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Reducing Exclusions

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AET Project brief - Reducing exclusions - Closing date for applications February 24th. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on the 3rd March 2016.  

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 2011/16.
An extension to the current contract until April 2017 will build on the success of the AET’s three previous programmes.

This document sets out the brief for running an exclusions programme designed to support children and young people with autism who are at risk of exclusion.

There are three main strands to this strand of the programme:

1.    To reduce the numbers of exclusions for children and young people with autism (CYPA)
2.    To support the parents of CYPA who are excluded from school or a post 16 setting
3.    To develop and share good practice relating to the integration of CYPA who have been excluded.


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 AET DfE programmes from 2011-16

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 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).

For level 2 and 3

• Over 8 out of 10 thought the training was ‘worthwhile’. • 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

Subsequently the DfE extended its contract with the AET to support the 2015/16 programme. This extended the reach of the Early Years and Post 16 Programmes to a further three English Regions. It also revised the schools materials and developed a number of new materials and training modules including a new progression framework and modules focussing on complex needs and participation. By the end of 2015 the programmes had trained well over 80,000 staff in all three age phases.

The diagram below sets out the broad structure of the AET 2016-17 programme. The elements in green are new developments for 2016/17.

The NAS Exclusions Service

Over the past 2 years the DfE has funded the NAS Exclusions Service which has supported 1,129 children and young people with autism (CYPA) who had been or were at risk of exclusion.  Over this period  the key causes for exclusion of CYPA have been identified as:

• a lack of knowledge of autism and empathy for the pupil with autism
• a lack of reasonable adjustments made to policies and practices
• behaviour that challenges staff, usually stemming from anxiety that occurs as a result of underlying difficulties and unmet needs
• a lack of high quality Alternative Provision (AP) that is suitable to a pupil with autism’s age, ability and individual needs
• pressure on a school to meet targets, perform well in league tables and secure a favourable judgement from Ofsted inducing head teachers to deviate from the statutory guidance on exclusion
• schools lacking a genuinely inclusive ethos.

To address the root causes of exclusion of pupils with autism, the successful bidder will work to overcome barriers to inclusion through providing a combination of the following:

• Parent Support
      o information & advice
      o management of support through volunteers
• Professional Support
      o information and awareness
      o inclusion and reintegration strategies

What are the key deliverables?

There will be deliverables in 4 areas:

A.    Providing information and advice for parents of CYPA who are excluded from school/FE college, or are at risk of exclusion, via phone appointments, email, face to face – 1,000 parents annually.

B.    Coordinating volunteers to help support parents as above, extending the reach to a further 400 parents annually

C.    Information and Awareness - Provide information for 10,000 education professionals on autism (including AET literature), resources and strategies to overcome barriers to inclusion (see key causes for exclusion overleaf) via professional internet networks; information on the website and the teachers email networks.

D.    Inclusion strategies – Advice for schools on the key components of how to reintegrate CYPA who have been excluded from school or college based on a model outreach service. These to be shared through the networks above. 

These will be delivered using a detailed project plan and will include the following outputs:

1.    Monthly data dashboard detailing the following:
     a.    No. of parents supported
          i.    Face to face
          ii.    by phone
          iii.    by email
     b.    No of professionals reached

2.    Quarterly narrative report updating progress and activity detailing
     i.    Coordination of volunteers (including how many and issues faced)
     ii.    Resources and strategies identified and developed as a result of the project
     iii.    Dissemination activities

3.    Production of a 'Guide to effective reintegration of excluded pupils' based on good practice identified to be published as a PDF on the AET and other major autism voluntary sector websites

4.    Dissemination plan focused on sharing key information to reduce exclusions.

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 with parents of CYPA.

• A track record of delivering high quality information and advice on autism

• Experience of working with volunteers

• Detailed and long-standing knowledge of the legislative framework relating to the exclusion of children with autism.

When do we need it?

The delivery timetable is set out below:

 Activity  By when
 Appoint Exclusions Team
 3rd March 2016
 Detailed exclusions project plan finalised including schedule of events and dissemination strategy
 End March  2016
 Delivery of data dashboard
 Narrative progress report
 End June 2016, Sept 2016 & Dec 2016
 'Guide to effective reintegration of excluded pupils' published
 March 2017
 Final project report
 March 2017


The total funding for this brief is £81k spread over three terms and runs for 1 year from April 1st 2016 to March 31st 2017. This is inclusive of any VAT and covers all expenses. No further payments will be made.

Invoice 1 dated 1st April 2016 for £27k
Invoice 2 dated 1st Sept 2016 for £27k
Invoice 3 dated 1st Dec 2016 for £27k

Further information

Organisations who are interested in competing for this work should submit the proforma by February 24th.  Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on March 3rd 2016 in London.

These opportunities are subject to a contract extension with the Department for Education. Discussions are currently taking place on this and we are hopeful that they will be successfully concluded. We hope and expect  to confirm this by the time that we shortlist. 

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

Reducing exclusions proforma