As at Friday 16th September
Key Dates for bidders:
• Assessment Criteria documentation returned to me by Friday 23rd September 2011
• Returns assessed by AET Panel Monday 26th September
• Bidders invited to present their documentation, present training materials and answer Q&A Wednesday 5th Oct and Friday 7th Oct
• All bidders notified week beginning 10th October
Below includes responses to the latest questions that have been raised about the training hubs tender. We have given the answers below to inform potential bidders but would be taking stock of feedback by bidders before we finalise the details of the programme.
Q1. The project brief does not make the budget clear: it says it “equates to a .05 FTE member of staff over 2 years” but does not specify what level that member of staff is (Autism Advisory Teacher/SENCO/Administrator etc.)
A1. It was planned that the person delivering the training would be a qualified teacher with SEN points included. We are flexible about whether or not that person currently occupies a SENCO or other role. In order to deliver the training credibly to teachers they must have teaching experience and the authority to inform large groups of teaching staff.
Q2. If the member of staff is recruited externally it is not clear if a budget will be provided for the recruitment process.
A2. Yes, a budget for recruitment has been included. This could be to recruit the hub delivery member of staff or to backfill for an existing member of the hub staff delivering this work.
Q3. The project brief states that each school is required to develop a training pack: whilst it states that these training packs will incorporate existing material it is unclear how much work is still left to do and also what kind of quality checks will be in place to ensure that all packs are of a consistent standard.
A3. The training packs will be developed centrally, but there will be elements of tailoring to specific cluster specialisms which may need to be done by the trainer or to accommodate the inclusion of local parents and young people into the training. All of the hub trainers will meet regularly to share expertise and feed into developments in the programme.
Q4. There is a potential conflict of interest if the training material that a school is asked to deliver is not consistent with the approach that the school takes (i.e. not evidence based) or is of poor quality. It is not clear if the opportunity exists to differentiate material, or if there is an opportunity for a school to focus on its particular area of expertise?
A4. The development of the core materials will be done centrally under an AET contract in line with the principles identified in the recent Good Practice and Outcomes Research and will build upon existing materials already approved by the AET and will be of the high quality that we expect for all AET materials. We do want differentiation to meet the needs of specific groups of trainees and defined specialisms e.g. Early Years provision and Secondary.
Q5. There is nothing about the type of schools that would be recruited as cluster schools. I am not sure that it is possible to deliver the same material to very different schools with different populations (will depend on the material of course) – again is this an opportunity for differentiation?
A5. We would anticipate a body of core materials that would apply to all settings and differentiated materials to match the requirements of specific groups.
Q6. The method of delivery is unclear. There was talk of level 1 being on-line but this is not in the current documentation) This has resources implications.
A6. The delivery method for each level of training is an issue that relates to the project as a whole and is currently under review. Whatever is decided will have to be within the existing funding level i.e. 1 x 0.5 time person per hub.
Q7. Will there be a cost to become a training hub?
Q8. Are training packages provided, or do the hubs need to set the packages up?
A8. Please see A3 above.
Q9. Would I be able to be the point of contact/facilitator, or does this need someone more senior then me? (I am a senior learning assistant for asd)
A9. We need our hub trainers to be able to lead groups of teachers with conviction. This is a role that is around the delivery of training to possibly large groups of teachers, rather than coordination. (See A1 above)
Q10. Would I be able to access the level 3 training package. I do not think our SENCo would be interested and I have done 1 year of the asd certificate at Uni of Birmingham, so specific to asd.
A10. We hope to appoint hubs in a good spread of geographical areas. The list of hubs will be put onto the website after selection. They will all be looking to recruit clusters of schools to participate in the training at all levels, so there should be plenty of opportunity to access the training through the hub sessions
Q11. As a point of detail what does the funding of 0.5 staff member mean? Is this equivalent to a teachers salary? If so at what level?
A11. Please see A1 above
Q12. It would be good to know the scp and if it includes the 2 SEN points that are payable
A12. There is some variability in pay scales. The budgeted amount for each member of staff including spine points is 0.5 of a FTE £30,300 (not including NI & pension which are budgeted separately).
Q13. The Budget for delivery equates to 0.5 fte post over 2 years. What is this in monetary terms? Is this per annum?
A13. This equates to £15,150 per annum (excluding pension and NI).
Q14. Is there additional funding for materials/running costs of the project?
A14. Yes there are. The total amount will depend on the number of hubs appointed, whether the staff member is are appointed by the NAS, or by hub providers. Support would be provided to underwrite the cost of employment for the hub provider which would include contributions towards the purchase of a laptop and projector, recruitment, stationery, a mobile phone, travel and subsistence, venue hire and organisational overheads. We would want to allow hub providers flexibility and we may be able to provide a grant (see Q25).
Q15. Where Training materials are already developed can they be incorporated or will AET's training materials have to be used?
A15. The training materials are being developed under a separate tender that will be published on the AET website. A key part of the tender is to research and incorporate existing materials into the AET training pack. If you would be willing for some of your materials to be considered, please let us know. Any materials used will be fully credited to the originating author / organisation.
Q16. Where a LA already has an established Training programme how will the AET Project enhance or compliment that programme?
Q16. The AET training programme is being developed alongside a national set of standards for autism education. At the same time, we are developing a national competency framework. We will be seeking to develop national accreditation for Level 2 and 3 training which sits between autism awareness training and specialist university accredited masters programmes in autism. Without knowing the LA programme in detail it is difficult to be precise, but some LA Services may be selected as hubs, in which case, they may choose to lead in a particular area of specialism (e.g. Secondary, Early Years, PRU or Special schools). If they were a specialist lead, they would be adapting the core materials to meet the specialist requirements. As a hub delivery partner, they would also have access to the full AET core training materials (please see Q15 above).
Q17. Will there be a cost to schools for the training?
Q17. Level 1 (whole school autism awareness) training will be provided free of charge. Schools will need to pay for Level 2 and 3 training (specialist training and support).
Q18. In the information it states the development of training materials will be a separate bidding opportunity. Will this be for additional bidders or those successful in the training bid? Will the materials be developed and ready for the Hubs to use in time?
Q18. Training materials are being developed under a separate tender (please see Q15. above) which is one of a number of tenders that may also be of interest to bidders for the hubs tender. Please see the AET website for details of the full tender schedule and a schema detailing how the work fits together. The Programme allows for the development of training materials in advance of their trialling in schools and final development before the start of the paid programme of delivery. Each of the areas is being managed in parallel with materials being piloted.
Q19. How important is it that we have existing networks of schools to deliver the training to?
Q19. Hubs providers who have really good networks will find it much easier to achieve the targets that they will be given in terms of the number people trained as they will already know possible schools who may want the training. Providers without existing networks will need to build them from scratch which is likely to delay their ability to deliver training.
Q20. If successful, when will we need to start delivering training?
Q20. The need to develop core training materials and to put in place agreements around whether delivery staff are employed by the AET or the hub provider followed by recruitment, means that although hubs will be told whether they have been successful well in advance of the start of the work. Please see the amended timescale below for details.
Q 21 Will all hubs start at the same time?
Q21 We envisage that the majority of hubs will start according to the timescale above. However it may be necessary for some work in some regions to be delayed. We will discuss this when we meet with shortlisted bidders.
Q22. We would like to consult with other members of our network before bidding. Would you consider extending the deadline in order to allow us to do so?
Q22. Yes. If we find that insufficient providers have send in bids by the original deadline on 9th September, we will send a reminder timed to coincide with the new school year with a new deadline of Friday 23rd September.
Q23. I’m unclear whether you will accept applications to be a training hub provider from LA Support services. The criteria/application form suggests yes, but the supporting information only refers to schools. Please advise.
A23. Yes applications will be accepted from LA support services and other organisations as well as schools. We will apply our selection criteria equally to all and have no bias towards one kind of provider.
Q24 As a charity, we have traditionally not been used to gathering data about how many people/schools we have provided training to and our monitoring and evaluation of impact are likely to be very different from what is routinely collated and measured in an educational setting. Please let me know how else we could demonstrate our knowledge and experience in a way that would be acceptable to those making the decisions regarding the designation of hubs.
A24. We are flexible about the evidence that is presented. However it is important for us to have information about how potential providers gather feedback about how effective their training has been and what the evidence is about its scale and its impact.
Q25. We would prefer to work on the basis of a grant or single payment for delivery to allow us to be more flexible about how we deliver this work. Would this be possible?
A.25. Yes, a number of potential bidders have raised this issue. We are currently investigating ways that we might be able to do this and will provide more information to shortlisted bidders.