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AET Project brief - Early Years Training Hubs

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AET Project brief - Early Years Training Hubs - Closing date for applications October 8th. Shortlisted organisations will be interviewed on the 12th or 13th November 2013.  

The Autism Education Trust has been awarded a contract by the Department for Education (DfE) for the development and delivery of an integrated programme of training and materials over the period 2013/15.

The new programme will build on the success of the AET’s 2011/13 DfE funded programme. It replicates the structure of the previous programme and applies it to 4 English regions not covered in 2011/13, develops it to meet Early Years and Post-16 settings as well as developing new resources for parents and Local Authorities.

This document sets down the brief for an AET Post 16 training hub in one of four English regions based on the areas demarcated by the old Government Regional Offices: South West, South East, London, East, West Midlands, East Midlands, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside and North East. Applications are welcome from organisations all over England as we are not prioritising any particular region. It is hoped to extend the programme to the remaining regions later. 

To act as a training hub to facilitate the delivery a 3-tier programme of training programme for Early Years staff in a region of England as part of the Autism Education Trust’s DfE supported 2013/15 programme.

The Autism Education Trust (AET) was founded in 2007 by Ambitious about Autism (formally Tree House), The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) and The National Autistic Society (NAS) and has received consistent support from both governments since that time.

The  vision of the AET is that all children and young people with autism should receive an education which enables them to engage in society as active citizens and that their families and the professionals who work with them are informed, supported and equipped to enable this to be achieved.

In order to achieve this, the AET has a mission to improve the education of young people with autism.

The AET achieves its mission through:
• the identification and promotion of high standards in autism education practice
• the identification and promotion of effective practitioner competency in support of those standards
• providing a platform for training in effective practice in support of improved competency
• disseminating information regarding evidence-based and good practice approaches/services to policy makers,  commissioners and practitioners
• providing  an interface between users, practitioners and policy makers in respect of service development
• ensuring that full and proper engagement of stakeholders informs its work and facilitating the engagement of stakeholders with government

The AET is in a unique position to carry out these activities because of:
• Its independence
• The partnership it supports between voluntary bodies and voluntary bodies and the maintained sector
• The active role of people with autism in the work and governance of the AET.
• Its national brief
• Its  focus on practical activity in education contexts

The 2011-13 AET programme

In the summer of 2011 the DfE awarded the AET funding to deliver an ambitious 2 year programme to raise workforce competency through:
• Delivering autism training for school staff  at level 1 (general awareness), level 2 (for staff working with young people with autism on a daily basis) and level 3 (for specialists such as SENCOs)
• Integrating this training with national standards for schools for autism education.
• Developing a competency framework to guide professional development

Birmingham University were commissioned to develop the training materials and the standards and 7 regional hubs were commissioned to deliver the training. The programme was rolled out successfully. As of March 2013:  
• Over 10,500 school staff were trained at level 1, over 850 at level 2 and nearly 200 at level 3.
• The AET Standards were published in May 2012 and there has been strong interest and positive feedback from schools.
• There is now evidence of the standards being used in schools and strategically in some LAs on a whole LA basis. More surprisingly there has been a high level of engagement from parents with email feedback and enquiries at the AET stands at national events and shows.
• An AET Competency Framework was published in September 2012 which provides a structure for professional development. We now receive regular feedback from schools that this supporting staff CPD in this area of expertise.

A final evaluation (2013) from University of Warwick CEDAR unit has found:
For level 1
• Very positive feedback  with robust evidence of staff moving on to level 2 as a result of undertaking level 1 training.
• Level 1 AET training materials have been successful in raising the knowledge, awareness and understanding of the majority of the participants, including those with previous experience of working with pupils on the autism spectrum.
• There was a highly significant rise in pre- and post-training mean total score on the Knowledge Quiz (p < .001).
• Over 8 out of 10 thought the training was ‘worthwhile’.

For level 2 and 3
• Very positive feedback with over 84% indicating the training was worthwhile and had increased their knowledge
• 93% of level 2 delegates and 97% of level 3 delegates  were interested in further training

The programme was also been reviewed by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism which published its report The right start: reforming the system for children with autism in June 2012. The report’s first recommendation is: 

The Government should continue funding for the Autism Education Trust (subject to evaluation) to enable it to expand the development of a three-tier training programme beyond March 2013. In particular it should include areas of the country not already covered. These are the South West, East and North East of England as well as Yorkshire and Humberside. It should be extended to provide training to staff in post-school settings, such as further education colleges, in line with plans for a holistic 0-25 SEN system.

The diagram below sets out the broad structure of both the 2011/13 and the new 2013/15 programme.

Levels of training and staff to be trained

There are three levels of training which are aimed towards professionals in post 16 education settings with different needs:

Level 1 - Basic autism awareness training for staff that need an understanding of autism in their role.
Level 2 - For all staff working directly with children on the autism spectrum
Level 3 - For all staff who need further knowledge on autism including lead staff for SEN and managers. (Entry level via Level 2 or equivalent.)

Training and induction and support of the new hubs

The new hubs induction will comprise:
• A complete set of training materials with written guidance on their use
• A workshop on the delivery  of the materials provided by AET
• Attendance  at least one level 1, 2 and 3 course run by an existing AET School Training Hub

Additionally there will be 6 monthly Programme Partners meetings where the post 16 hub can feed back on their experiences of the training and network with the materials developers, other hubs and other colleagues involved in the 2013/15 programme.

During the course of the year AET colleagues will sit in on training sessions and feedback to the new hubs as part of AET support to ensure quality of delivery.  Additionally there will be termly meetings with hubs to review progress, gather feedback and discuss any issues arising.  

What are the key deliverables / milestones?
The training will be subject to a formal evaluation similar to the 2011/13 evaluation conducted by Warwick University. Additional to this feedback there will be 4 key deliverables:  
1. To be  the exclusive  Early Years AET training programme deliverer  in one of four English regions based on the areas demarcated by the old Government Regional Offices: South West, South East, London, East, West Midlands, East Midlands, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside and North East
2. To pilot draft training materials in the spring of 2014 and provide the materials  developers and the AET with feedback to inform the final materials
3. To deliver training to at least 290 Early Years settings based staff by March 2015:
a. 250 staff to receive Level 1 training
b. 30 staff to receive Level 2 training
c. 10 staff to receive Level 3 training
4. To maintain the current quality of delivery as indicated by pre and post course knowledge questionnaires and feedback proformas gathered from all participants.
5. To contribute to the refinement and development of AET materials including feeding back improvement suggestions on the materials during the course of the programme

What key skills / capabilities are important to us?

• Extensive experience in working with people across the spectrum, whether they have High Functioning Autism / Asperger Syndrome or have classical autism with or without other learning difficulties.
• Extensive experience of working in or with early years settings. Members of the team with an early years qualification would be advantageous.
• A track record of delivering high quality training with independent evaluation of its effectiveness.
• Evidence of access to extensive networks of early years settings so that the new training hub will be able to “hit the ground running” at the commencement of the contract in November 2013. 
• A willingness to be trained in the delivery of the AET materials and to supplement these with local materials where appropriate. 
• Bidders should state where their employees include individuals with autism and how their skills will be used in this work.

When do we need it?

Timescales are quite tight but experience with the 2011/13 programme shows that it is achievable. The timetable is set out below:

Budget and course cost structure

The total funding for each hub is £44,000 spread over four terms from January 2014 to March 31st 2015 . This is inclusive of any VAT and covers all the funding available to hubs. It includes all funding for the purchase of the training materials for the trainers and delegates up to target levels. These materials will cost under £2,000.  All delegate fees up to the target levels will be remitted to the AET. Once target levels have been achieved delegate fees are shared between the AET and the training hub on a 50/50 basis.  
The current cost structure for delegates for each level for schools training is as follows:
Level 1: free
Level 2: £95 per delegate
Level 3: £190 per delegate

However the above are indicative only as the teams appointed will review with the AET the cost structure that will be sustainable for the sector and the training hubs. 

After the funding period is over all hubs can apply to be licensed providers of AET training on a financially self sustaining basis.  

Further information

Organisations who are interested in competing for this work should submit the proforma by October 8th.  Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on November 12th or 13th  2013.

For an overview of the AET please see the AET website at

For individual queries please email our Administrator, Peggy Freyne at . We will either respond to your query by email or arrange a phone call if necessary. 

Relevant Documents
AET Project Brief – Developing the AET training materials for the Early Years sector 

Training hubs proforma Early Years 2013