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New AET Director

The AET is pleased to announce the appointment of Bob Lowndes as the new Director of the AET. Bob comes to the AET from Autism Wessex, where he was Chief Executive for 21 years.

Message from Bob Lowndes
I feel thrilled and extremely privileged to have been appointed AET Director. Some of you will know that I have been on the programme board of AET since its inception in 2007 and, for six years, I was Chairman. I am therefore very passionate about our work and extremely proud of all we have achieved over the past nine years. Much of that achievement has, of course, been due to the skill, energy and leadership of my predecessor, Steve Huggett who I know is well-liked and respected by you all. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Steve’s contribution and to express the hope that I prove a worthy successor.

There was a gap of almost three months between Steve leaving and my commencing in the role last month. An early imperative was to provide information to the Department for Education to advise how we believed the programme should develop and where we believed the department should continue to provide funding support. DfE is now using that information to describe a tender process, which will lead to a new contract from April 2017. This will be an open tender and the AET will be bidding against other potential providers. We are clearly in a strong position to secure this contract but there are no guarantees and we will need to ensure our bid is of a high quality.

The AET is essentially a wonderful partnership of many partners. I never cease to be humbled by the energy, commitment and enthusiasm of all our partners and feel a strong sense of responsibility in seeking to ensure the programme has a long and strong life. Clearly, DfE has been and continues to be a significant partner in providing strategic direction and funding. My view is that central government will continue to have a critical role in this on-going partnership and I will do all I can to encourage it to continue its investment in our work. Nonetheless, the relatively short-term nature and insecurity of government funding does not help long-term planning and one of my areas for attention is how we might become less dependent on that funding.

Beyond which, and like you, my motivation is to ensure AET does all it can to improve the confidence and ability of education practitioners to in turn secure the best experiences and outcomes for children and young people on the spectrum.

I very much look forward to working with you.

Bob Lowndes
AET Director

Picture of Bob Lowndes