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Young People’s Panel

Young people’s panel - 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 2011/16.
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 setting up a Young People’s Panel which would be  designed to facilitate children and young people’s ongoing feedback during the development of the  2016/17 AET Programme.

To facilitate a coherent input of young people with autism across the all the strands of the 2016/17 AET programme. All AET programme teams have a brief that includes involvement with the Panel.

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 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 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

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 puple are new developments for 2016/17.


The importance of the involvement of young people with autism in the AET programme

The AET attaches central importance to the involvement of people with autism in its programme. They provide the programme with a unique and essential perspective on the expertise, approaches and issues in the area of autism education. Consequently they are involved at all stages of the AET programme: development, delivery and governance.

We have included young people in this partnership with people with autism over the years. However we recognise there is much more to be done in this area and the Young People’s Panel is a key step towards this objective. The panel will be briefed and consulted on all the 2016/17 programme strands and we expect to be able to track their impact on the programme over the year.

What are the key deliverables?

We will develop a detailed project plan with the contractor once they are appointed but there will be four broad deliverables in this strand of our programme:

• The appointment of a panel of between 5-10 young people with autism who have a range of backgrounds, strengths and needs.
• In partnership with AET officers, providing an overview of the AET programme in an accessible form.
• Providing preparation and training to facilitate panel members feeding back to programme developers.
• In partnership with AET officers, organising contact with teams developing the programme.
• Working with the evaluation team to track the impact of the panel’s input on the programme

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 children and young people with autism including their involvement in consultative processes.

• A track record of delivering small scale, high quality projects on time and within budget

When do we need it?

The delivery timetable is set out below:

 Activity  By When
 Appoint project team
 May 2016
 Detailed project plan finalised including schedule of meetings and preparation
 June 2016
 Appointment of panel
 July 2016
 Engagement of panel with development teams
 September to December 2016
 Feedback to AET programme evaluation team
 January 2017
 Meeting with panel to review their work and thank them
 January 2017
 Final short report to AET programme board on the work of the panel
 February 2017


The total funding for this brief is £7,500. This is inclusive of any VAT and covers all expenses except travel expenses of the young people which will be paid for by the AET. No further payments will be made.

Further information

Organisations who are interested in competing for this work should submit the proforma available to download here by Friday 13th May 2016. Those shortlisted will be interviewed on May 25th 2016 in London (unfortunately we can’t pay interview expenses).

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