Department of Education

AET programme board

The AET programme is governed by its programme board which determines its strategy, protects its values and both supports, and holds the staff team to account for the delivery of its objectives. Programme Board membership reflects a broad and rounded perspective from across the autism and education communities to include autistic people and parents.

Current members are:

Jolanta Lasota – Chair. Chief Executive, Ambitious about Autism.

Ryan Bradley – manager for the Communication and Interaction Service in Oxfordshire.
Phil Christie – a consultant child psychologist, and former director of an autism specific school, working as part of autism associates.
Dr Glenys Jones – Chartered Psychologist and Honorary Lecturer at the University of Birmingham
Wendy Peel – Specialist Teacher, Communication and Autism Team, Birmingham City Council & Parent.
Carol Povey – Director of the Centre for Autism, National Autistic Society
Alex Rowley – Representing the autism community
Iain Sim – Principal, West Kirby Residential School
Pam Simpson – Assistant Manager, Communication and Autism Team, Birmingham City Council
Claire Thomson – is Head of Specialist Education Services and Safeguarding at Babcock Education.

AET Sign


1 Context
1.1 Under contract to the Department for Education (DfE), Autism Education Trust (AET) was founded by National Autistic Society (NAS), Ambitious about Autism (AaA) and Council for Disabled Children (CDC). These three organisations being the named contract partners with DfE.
1.2 Subsequently, Council for Disabled Children withdrew and, for a period, Autism Alliance UK joined as a contract partner. However, it also has withdrawn.
1.3 AET continues to enter into contracts with DfE in the pursuit of its mission and, in this context, the concept of contract partners remains relevant. However, in recognition of the aspiration for AET to reach a position where it is not dependent on government funding and/or in anticipation of that funding ceasing, the National Autistic Society and Ambitious about Autism will be described as founding partners.
1.4 A consistent feature of AET’s work and, recognisably, one of its major strengths and attributes is how it has developed partnerships and alliances across the autism and education communities with those who share in its vision and values.
1.5 Whilst the founding partners have a clear role in facilitating AET, it is their expressed intention that AET should be governed by appropriate stakeholders from across those communities and with the sole purpose of pursuing its mission. To this effect, a Programme Board was established at the outset to include those stakeholders.
1.6 It is not the intention of the founding partners that they should exercise any greater power or control than other programme board members.
1.7 AET has no legal status. On behalf of AET it is therefore NAS who assumes all legal and contractual obligations to include the employment of AET staff.

2 Purpose
2.1 To describe and protect AET vision, mission and values
2.2 To describe AET strategy in pursuit of its vision and mission
2.3 To describe a (business) plan and associated objectives to achieve the strategy
2.4 To describe AET policy
2.5 To support and monitor delivery of the plan and policy to ensure necessary compliance and performance
2.6 To understand and ensure effective management of presenting risk
2.7 To take necessary action where compliance and/or performance and/or risk are compromised
2.8 To describe AET position relative to wider policy and associated matters

3 Powers
3.1 To determine AET vision, mission and values
3.2 To determine the (business) plan and associated budgets
3.3 To determine all AET specific policy (acknowledging policy provided by NAS relative to its organisational and statutory requirements)
3.4 To approve hosting arrangements with NAS
3.5 To instruct NAS to appoint a programme Director to implement the strategy and plan
3.6 With the Director, to determine other staffing requirements and to instruct NAS accordingly
3.7 To establish committees for the pursuit of necessary programme activity
3.8 To support the Director and committees and to hold them to account for their performance
3.9 To approve membership of committees and approve removal of members consistent with their terms
3.10 To instruct NAS to terminate the employment of the Director
3.11 To request that NAS enter into contracts on its behalf (negotiating as appropriate)
3.12 Request that NAS terminates contracts, licenses or agreements entered into on behalf of AET
3.13 To determine AET position relative to wider policy and associated matters

4 Membership
4.1 Membership of the Programme Board will be by way of open recruitment processes through the AET stakeholder network. Appointment will be made by a sub-group of the Programme Board
4.2 Programme Board members will be recruited to specific roles and/or to represent a particular stakeholder group. Those roles/positions are:
• 1 x founding partner – National Autistic Society
• 1 x founding partner – Ambitious about Autism
• 1 x Autistic Adult (over 25 years)
• 1 x Autistic Young Person (under 25 years)
• 1 x Parent of an Autistic Person
• 1 x Autism Academic/Researcher
• 1 x Early Years Programme Partner
• 1 x School Programme Partner
• 1 x Post 16 Programme Partner
• 1 x Experienced Autism Education Professional
• 1 x Autism Voluntary Sector representative
• 2 x local authority representative
Up to 2 further positions at Programme Board discretion

Chairmanship every 3 years. And second term

5 Meetings
5.1 The Board will meet four times a year in accordance with the wider AET work planning cycle.
5.2 Focus/agenda of meetings will reflect that planning cycle.
5.3 A minimum of six members in attendance will be required for the meeting to be deemed quorate. If not quorate the meeting will be re-convened.
5.4 Should the chair and vice chair not be present the meeting will elect an acting chair from amongst those present.
5.5 Decisions will be by simple majority vote. The chair will enjoy a casting vote.

6 Conduct of Members
6.1 The entire AET programme is predicated on selflessness, cooperation, partnership and mutual respect. It is anticipated that programme board members will operate consistent with these principles.
6.2 Board members will be expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with AET values and the Nolan Committee standards in public life.
6.3 Board members will actively promote and advocate for AET and not knowingly undertake any activity which undermines or threatens the AET programme
6.4 Board members shall not miss more than two consecutive meetings
6.5 Where a group member’s conduct falls short of these expectations, this will be addressed by the chair to include, if necessary, exclusion.


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