About the Autism Education Trust

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Improve the education of autistic children and young people
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Enable individuals to reach their potential and engage in society
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Support and inform education professionals

Our vision is a world where all autistic children and young people experience a positive education that supports wellbeing.

Our mission is to empower the education workforce and support them in securing a positive education that supports wellbeing for all autistic children and young people.

Find out more about our vision, mission and values in the AET Strategy for 2021 – 2024.

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Child in classroom smiling with chin in hands

Who we are

The Autism Education Trust (AET) is a not for profit programme led by two national autism charities – the National Autistic Society (NAS) and Ambitious about Autism (AaA).

The AET is not a legal entity and is hosted on behalf of the partnership by the National Autistic Society (NAS). NAS carries all legal responsibility for the programme and enters into all contracts on its behalf. 

Established and supported by the Department for Education, the AET promotes and supports partnerships throughout the education system to improve educational access, experience and outcomes for autistic children and young people. Underpinned by current research into good autism practice, the AET programme is structured around the three education phases – Early Years, Schools and Post 16.

The AET uses a social franchising model and has a network of licensed training partners.  Central to successful social franchising is ensuring that a clear set of social values are embedded and replicated in every franchised organisation. 

What we do

The AET is a partnership of autistic young people, parents/carers, academics and professionals. This, coupled with our approach to research and evidence-based resources, means that we have expert knowledge to share.

To achieve our vision, we will: 

  1. Share our knowledge and understanding - Develop standards and frameworks, training materials and resources that are current, bitesize, accessible, address the needs created by the pandemic and can be used flexibly by our training partners. 

  2. Develop the skills of the workforce - by building communities of practice through our training partners based in local authorities all over the UK.  

  3. Embed positive attitudes towards neurodiversity - by working with our Training Partners and the Autistic Young Experts Panel to promote positive images and examples of neurodiversity with their peers. 

  4. Support system leaders - by working alongside organisational partners and co-producing resources with leadership groups.

Our Values

Click the headings below to find out more about our values: 

  • Voice
  • Partnership
  • Reach and sustainability
  • Impact, outcomes and evidence

Voice

We consider the views and needs of young people, parents/ carers and professionals across ethnic, cultural, social-economic, gender and disability diversity in developing the AET's governance, plans, and work.

Partnership

We work collaboratively to run and deliver the AET programme. We work through partners to deliver our work because our focus is on capacity building and system wide change.

Reach and sustainability

The AET Programme reaches across the different education settings, the whole autism spectrum, age ranges from early years, through school age and onto post 16 and reaches across the ethnic, cultural, social-economic, gender and disability diversity among the autistic population. By continuing to develop our reach, and working sensitively to meet the diversity of need, the AET remains current and sustainable.

Impact, outcomes and evidence

Our aim is for autistic children and young people to learn and thrive in all education settings. Materials, resources and support remain evidence-based and current; and we will work to measure outcomes and impact at an individual and strategic level so that we know what works and this feeds back into the evidence for future materials and resources.

Autism is a difference not a deficit and we value the strength that comes with embracing neurodiversity and working in partnership.

The AET is the go-to destination for autism education expertise brought to life by our unique network of autism education specialists, autistic people, parents of autistic children, academics and education professionals.

Why do autistic children and young people need us to continue our work?

Unfortunately, many autistic children and young people still do not have a positive education experience that empowers them to achieve their potential. Some of the statistics that reflect this sad fact are: 

According to the latest SEND statistics from the Department for Education, which are based on the school census, there are currently 132,345 autistic children at state primary, secondary and special schools in England.   

294,800 school pupils have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in January 2020. This is an increase of 23,600 since January 2019.  Of those with an EHC plan, Autism remains the most common primary type of need with 30% (82,800) of pupils with an EHCP having this primary type of need.  

Not all autistic pupils have a diagnosis of autism and many are recorded as having Social Emotional and Mental Health needs.  

Over 70% of autistic pupils are educated in mainstream schools in England.  

The latest figures from the Department for Education show autistic pupils in England as being twice as likely to be excluded from school for a fixed period as pupils with no special educational needs.   

The most common reason being ‘persistent disruptive behaviour’ – 35% permeant and 31% fixed term.  

Fewer than 1 in 4 autistic people access education beyond compulsory school age. 

Only 16% of autistic adults are currently in full-time employment. 

Better equip your workforce with AET training. Find out more about the AET Professional Development Programme. 

Meet the team

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