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AET Project brief - Quality Assurance of AET Training

AET Project brief - Quality Assurance of AET Training - THIS IS 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 builds 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 part of the new programme which covers the monitoring of training by hubs.  An application pro forma is available with this brief. There will be an opportunity for prospective contractors to be given additional clarification on request.

To report on a sample of AET training sessions by AET training hubs and their subcontracted delivery partners and provide a quality assurance report.

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 government since that time. Over 40,000 education staff have been trained across England by the AET programme since 2012.

The AET has a mission to improve the education of young people with autism. This mission is realised through:

• the identification and promotion of high standards and effective practice in autism education practice
• Experience of school improvement
• providing training to support effective practice
• disseminating information regarding evidence-based good practice approaches/services to policy makers, commissioners and practitioners
• providing  a network for practitioners and policy makers to develop provision and services
• ensuring that full engagement of stakeholders including people with autism 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 unique partnership it supports between voluntary bodies and the maintained sector including schools, colleges, early years settings, Local Authorities and universities.
• The active role of people with autism in the work and governance of the AET.
• Its national brief

The AET has had two successive government funded national programmes from 2011-2015

In the summer of 2011 the Department for Education (DfE) awarded the AET funding to deliver an ambitious 2 year programme to raise workforce competency. Following the success of this programme it was extended and developed with a further contract in 2013. As a result the AET now offers the biggest national training programme for education based staff. This comprises:

For Schools

• 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)
• National Autism Standards which allow school self-review and are hyperlinked to resources. These are free to download from the AET website.
• A Competency Framework to guide professional development hyperlinked to resources. These are free to download from the AET website.

Birmingham University’s Autism Centre for Education Research (ACER) has developed training materials and the standards/competency frameworks which are delivered by 11 regional hubs across England.

For Early Years

A brand new programme is being developed and rolled out in 2013 for all Early Years settings. It contains three tiers of training which have been developed in consultation with staff, training providers, individuals on the autism spectrum, parents and carers:

1. Making sense of autism. For raising awareness of staff in all early years settings, whether or not they work directly with children with autism. Free until April 2015.
2. Developing good autism practice. For all staff who work regularly with children with autism.
3. Building on existing knowledge and taking a lead in autism. For all staff who need further knowledge on autism and/or who may train or lead other staff in their setting.

Initially the training is restricted to 4 areas of England: West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside and North East. It is hoped to extend this to the rest of England from 2015.

For Post 16 Providers
A brand new programme is being developed and rolled out in 2013 for all College and other post 16 provision. It contains three tiers of training which have been developed in consultation with staff, training providers, individuals on the autism spectrum, parents and carers:

1.    Raising awareness. Basic autism awareness training for teaching or non-teaching staff within a post 16 setting (including office staff, governors; caretakers, drivers and escorts). Free until April 2015
2.    For professionals. Practical knowledge, hands-on tools and techniques for all staff working directly with young people on the autism spectrum (including tutors, staff, teachers).
3.    For leaders. For all staff who need further knowledge on autism and who may take a leadership role within a post 16 setting (including lead practitioners for autism, SENCOs, inclusion managers).

Initially the training is restricted to 4 areas of England: London, South East, West Midlands and East Midlands. It is hoped to extend this to the rest of England from 2015.

The Impact of the programme

The programme has been very well received by practitioners. As of August 2014: 

• Over 40,000 school staff have been trained at level 1, over 4,500 at level 2 and over 1,000 at level 3.
• Since 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.
• Since the AET Competency Framework was published in September 2012 we are receiving regular feedback from schools that this supporting staff CPD in this area of expertise.

Independent evaluation from University of Warwick CEDAR unit has found:
• Very positive feedback  with over 9 out of 10 participants reporting that the training was worthwhile or very worthwhile
• Statistically significant gains in the knowledge of staff.
• Growing evidence that the training is having impact on provision and practice in the classroom.
• High levels of staff expressing interest in training to a higher level.

The programme was also 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 was:
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.

The Hubs Training Model

The AET currently has 19 training hubs covering Early Years, Schools and Post 16 settings and are distributed across England. We are looking for people to attend a sample of training sessions as one element of providing Quality Assurance of training provided by the hubs.  

 North  South
 Early Years

Yorkshire and Humberside 
North East
West Midlands



East Midlands – Leicestershire


Yorkshire & Humberside
North East
North West
West Midlands
East Midlands - NORSACA




East Midlands – Leicestershire
South East
South West
Greater London  - AAA  Greater London – The Bridge

 Post 16
West Midlands


East Midlands – NORSACA
South East
Great London - AAA

 Number of Hubs
 9  10
 Pro rata Value of contract
 £12,600  £14,000

If we receive sufficient funding in 2015-17, we hope to extend the coverage further to include the whole of England.

This role involves considerable travel to cover the geographic spread, so we are looking to divide the country into North and South and let at least 2 contracts to cover the whole of England.

Every hub should have as a minimum the following visits between April 2014 and March 2015 and includes the write up and submission of a visit report to the AET and the training hub:
1 x Level 1 (1/2 day)
1 x Level 2 (1 day of 1 or both days of 2 day training)
1 x Level 3 (1 day of 1 or both days of 2 day training)

Schools hubs Level 2 is a 1 day training and Level 3 is a 2 day session. In Early Years and Post 16, Level 2 is a 2 day session and Level 3 a single day.

How the AET training is Quality Assured?

We have a combination of mechanisms to feed back on the quality of the AET programme and of training delivered within it.  They are detailed below:

• Independent review of the development of training materials by CEDAR at the University of Warwick
• Feedback from training hubs
• Individual delegate feedback forms completed at the end of every session
• Quality Assurance Visits to a sample of hubs training sessions.  Under the hubs’ contracts and licence agreements they agree to a minimum of 1 QA visit per level, per hub, per year. The QA assessor completes a visit report which is shared with the trainer and sent to the AET.
• The results of each and every delegate feedback form are collated. Either by the AET, or by CEDAR
• The information collated by the AET is subsequently reported back to Hubs, to aid their internal QA processes as well as to the AET programme Board and wider stakeholder groups.

What key skills / capabilities are important to us?

The chosen organisation/ individuals will be able to offer:

• Staff with an expertise and experience in educational improvement across a range of educational provision
• Staff with a comprehensive knowledge of research and approaches in autism education and / or training and quality assurance.
• A full driving licence and easy access to good transport links
• Good written and spoken communication skills
• Experience delivering training – preferably in an autism / special needs educational context.

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

Timetable for key deliverables

 Activity By When
QA Brief Published Friday 5th Sept 2014
Closing date for Applications Friday 26th Sept 2014
Interviews for QA contract Wednesday 15th October 2014
Contract Awarded to successful bidders Friday 17th October 2014
Schedule of visits agreed Monday 3rd November 2014
L1, 2 and 3 sessions completed  and reports sent for each hub 31st March  2015
Summary report on all training observed 31st March 2015

The total budget for this part of the 2013/15 AET programme is a maximum of £12,600 inclusive of VAT for the North and £14,000 inclusive of VAT for the South. This will cover all costs including travel and subsistence. We anticipate that to reduce costs, these will be delivered by different people / organisations. No additional payments will be made.

In the event that all sessions are not completed with within the timescale for any reason, payments will be reduced pro rata in line with the number of sessions that were quality assured based on a day rate.

In the event that both parties agree, the AET may choose to extend the contract with the successful bidders for an additional period.

Further information

Organisations who are interested in competing for this work should submit the proforma available to download here by Friday 26th September 2014. Those shortlisted will be interviewed on Wednesday 15th October.

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 documents

The AET National Autism Standards

The AET Competency Framework

The AET Training Programme for schools, EY and Post 16