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AET Project Brief – Programme Evaluation

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AET Project brief - Training Hubs - apply by Sunday 23rd June 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 out the brief for the evaluation of the new programme and some follow up work on the 2011/13 programme.  An application pro forma is available with this brief.

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To evaluate the effectiveness of the 2013/15  programme activities, follow up the ongoing impact of the 2011/13 programme and feed this information back to the AET, the AET development teams, AET Training Hubs and the DfE at regular intervals throughout the 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 May 2013: 

  • Over 12,000 school staff have been trained at level 1, over 1,100 at level 2 and over 300 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.

AET pyramid image

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What are the key deliverables / milestones?

1. To design and implement a sustainable monitoring system for the programme which requires the minimum effort from the AET staff and partner organisations while at the same time supplying useful data to inform development and delivery. 

2. To follow through key strands of the 2011/13 programme and assess their sustainability and impact.

3. To feed into Programme Partner meetings on a six monthly basis help guide the programme.

4. To feedback to the AET Programme Board at least annually.

5. To provide a written interim and full term reports for the AET/DfE.

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Main Measures

The precise measures to be used will be developed by the contractor in consultation with AET. However they will cover the following broad areas:

a. Numbers trained.

b. Knowledge gained by practitioners

c. Impact on practitioners confidence

d. Impact on practice and provision in schools, colleges and early years settings

e. Take up National Standards by:

  • Schools
  • Colleges
  • Early Years settings
  • Parents
  • LA support services and commissioners.

f. Take up of Competency Framework by individual staff

g. Take up AET certification of portfolios of evidence by staff

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What key skills / capabilities are important to us?

The chosen organisation will be able to offer:

  • Ability to undertake high quality evaluation which is of practical use for all our stakeholders
  • An excellent track record in working in similar scale action research projects in the area of SEND and the delivery of CPD.
  • Ability to understand the wider policy framework for SEND and CPD in the context of new legislative and systemic changes.

Bidders should state where their research team includes researchers with autism and how their skills will be used in this work.

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Timetable for key deliverables

The delivery timetable is quite tight but experience with the 2011/13 programme shows that it is doable. A suggested timetable is set out below:

evaluation brief schedule image

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The total budget for this part of the 2013/15 AET programme is £40k inclusive of VAT. This will cover all costs including any subcontracted work.

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Further information

Organisations who are interested in competing for this work should submit the proforma available with this brief by Sunday 23rd June 2013.   Shortlisted organisations will be interviewed on Friday 5th or Monday 8th of July 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 and links

Evaluation tender proforma

The AET National Autism Standards

The AET Training Programme for schools