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AET Project brief - AET progession framework and associated training

AET Project Brief – Development of a Progression framework and associated training module - NOW CLOSED

The Autism Education Trust was awarded contracts by the Department for Education (DfE) for the development and delivery of an integrated programme of training and materials over the period 2011/15. An extension to the current contract until April 2016 will build on the success of the AET’s two previous programmes.

This document sets down the brief for the development of a progression framework for autistic children and young people and an associated training module for delivery by AET training hubs on the use of the framework to education staff.

To produce a framework that will enable education staff to track the progress of children and young people with autism and assess the impact of interventions and design a training module to train staff in its use.

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 and 2013-15 AET programmes

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. By the end of the programme in March 2013:   
• Over 10,500 school staff had 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 was strong interest and positive feedback from schools from the outset. There is now evidence of the standards being used in schools and strategically in some LAs on a whole LA basis.
• 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.

A final evaluation (2013) from University of Warwick CEDAR unit 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 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 DfE awarded the AET a contract for a new 2013-15 programme that built on this success. It extended it by:
• Developing new early years and post 16 training materials and associated autism standards and competency framework
• Commissioning 4 early years and 4 post 16 training hubs to deliver the programme
• Developing the AET standards for use by parents in selecting schools and having a constructive dialogue with staff ion their child’s school.
• Developing a toolkit for LAs and other organisations who are using the AET training, standards and competency frameworks
The diagram below sets out the broad structure of both the 2011/13 and the 2013/15 programme. This structure will continue to underpin the new 2015/16 programme.

Research and development to produce a progression framework and associated training module measuring the progress of children and young people with autism

The need to for research that can be applied by teachers to track the progress of children and young people with SEND has been identified as a research priority by DfE in its latest paper in March 2014. This strand of the AET 2015/16 programme is an important response to the sharper focus on outcomes set down in the new SEND Code of Practice. This priority has also been identified consistently by AET training hubs.

The first part of this work is a review of the literature which has a practical application to the work of education staff tracking the progress of children and young people with autism and using this information to guide their educational offer. The second part is to produce a framework that can be applied in a wide range of settings for pupils with autism with diverse needs. The final part of the brief is to develop a training module for the AET training hubs that can support staff in applying the framework in their own situations.

Integration with other project strands in the new 2015/16 programme

This strand of the AET 2015/16 programme links with other strands of the programme and it is important that it links with them.  In particular work will need to be coordinated with the following strands of the 2015/16 programme:

Revision of the 2011-12 schools training materials and Revision of the 2012 AET Schools Autism Standards and Competency Frameworks

By 2015 well nearly 50,000 staff will have been trained using level 1, 2 or 3 training materials. Feedback on the materials and their impact on practice and provision has been gathered systematically since they were developed. This information will inform an extensive revision which will also integrate changes introduced by individual trainers. A significant feature of the revision will be that the materials will be updated to take account of the new legislative framework that has been introduced since the original materials were produced.  

These revisions will be supported by the development of a hard copy support pack of teaching strategies for participants

The AET Standards and Competency Frameworks are being used increasingly by schools. They provide descriptors to allow schools and staff to structure development priorities. Each priority is hyperlinked to resources to support development. The frameworks and the hyperlinked resources need to be updated to reflect new developments, changes in legislation and the new Ofsted framework. The proposed revision will also illustrate use with numerous case studies from schools.

A module for meeting the needs of children and young people with complex needs including exemplification for children with little or no verbal skills.

A number of particular needs for training have been identified over the 2½ years of the current training programme. It is proposed the first of these to be developed would be a complex needs module to supplement level 2 training for special school staff.

Increasing the participation of children and young people with autism including those with few or no verbal skills

The new SEND Code of Practice raises the bar of expectations of the participation of children and young people in determining their education.  Within this proposal we will seek to broaden the existing participation work to focus specifically on including the voice of young people with severe and complex needs.

What are the key deliverables?

There will be 3 key deliverables:

1. A review of the literature relevant to development of a progression framework for children and young people with autism.
2. The development of a free standing progression framework that can be applied by education staff for a wide range young people in diverse settings. This would be applied to both inform individual work and assess the impact generally of particular interventions.
3. The development of a training package to be delivered by the AET school training hubs. This will include the production of training packs for each of the 11 AET schools training hubs and the production of production ready materials for delegates. Contractors will need to decide in consultation with the AET and the AET training hubs the structure of the training module and whether it should be integrated within the new revised training materials or whether it should be a free-standing training module which is signposted in the main AET training offer.

What key skills / experience are important to us?

The team chosen should have a range of skills and experience including:

• A rigorous and broad knowledge of the latest relevant research developments in the area.
• Experience of applying research to develop practical materials for practitioners.
• Extensive experience in working with people across the autistic spectrum, whether they have High Functioning Autism / Asperger Syndrome or have classical autism with or without other learning difficulties.
• Experience of the development of training materials and delivering high quality training.
• Experience in and knowledge of school improvement and more general progression materials. Good familiarity with quality assurance and inspection frameworks would be desirable.
• A good knowledge of the existing AET training materials would be an advantage but not essential.
• 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?

The delivery timetable is set out below:

 Activity By When
Contractor appointed
February 2015
Commencement of contract
April 2015
Review of the literature relevant to development of a progression
framework for children and young people with autism.
July 2015
Development of progression framework for piloting October 2015
Final progression framework produced and training module developed
including any integration with revised schools training materials
February 2016

Budget and course cost structure

The total funding for the contract inclusive of any VAT payable, all production costs and all expenses is £37,000

Further information

Organisations who are interested in competing for this work should submit the proforma available to download here by Friday 6th February 2015. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on Tuesday 25th February 2015.

For an overview of the AET please see the AET website at
For individual queries please email our Administrator, Joanne Driver at . We will either respond to your query by email or arrange a phone call if necessary.

Relevant links

The AET programme