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AET Project Brief – Part time specialist adviser for post 16 training programme

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AET Project brief - Training Hubs - NOW CLOSED.

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 out the brief for a part-time specialist adviser to advise the AET on the development and roll out of its  new post 16 programme. The commission is for 20 days  input, initially over a six month period.

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To advise the AET on the commissioning, development and implementation of its new post 16 programme.

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The Autism Education Trust 
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 have been 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 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 are now receiving regular feedback from schools that this supporting staff CPD in this area of expertise. 

Interim evaluation 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 if 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 95% 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.

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The post 16 strand of the new  2013/15  programme

The AET is building on the success of its school age training programme to extend the range of training to include staff in post 16 schools and colleges. This will involve:

  • Adapting and developing the current school training  materials for use with post 16 institutions
  • Commissioning 4 training hubs to start the delivery of the new programme in 4 regions of England
  • Adapting the AET Education  Standards and Competency Framework for use by the post 16 sector

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The role and work of the specialist adviser

The role of the adviser for the first 6 months of this strand of the 2013/15 AET Programme will be to:

  • Advise the AET on the current post 16 educational context and the implications for the development of training materials and the delivery of training.
  • To participate in the assessment process to select contractors to develop the new post 16  materials 
  • To support and monitor the development of the materials and liaise with AET staff as necessary
  • To participate in the assessment process to select four new training hubs to deliver the post 16 programme

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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. 
  • A track record of delivering high quality training 
  • Extensive experience of working in the post 16 sector
  • Being up to date with the latest developments in post 16 education, SEND and provision for young people with autism

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The commitment for the first 6 months of the programme

Because of an uncertainty over the VAT implications of the DfE contract with us we are currently unable to finalise the overall budget for our 2013/15 programme. As a result we are only able to commit to 6 months funding of the adviser role currently. There maybe opportunities to extend the adviser’s role once the budget is finalised.
The broad timetable of work for the adviser is set out below

post 16 advisor schedule

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Time and fees

The fees for the commission for the six month period will be £5,000 inclusive of any VAT. Any reasonable travel/subsistence expenses will be paid in addition to these fees. The total time allocation for the adviser during this period will be 20 days to be deployed according to the needs of the project. As indicated previously there may be a facility to extend this once the exact funding of the project has been finalised.

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Further information

Applicants should submit a CV with two referees by April 23rd 2013.   Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on May 1st 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.

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Relevant Documents

AET Post 16 Training Materials Brief