The Highlights: Meeting the Demand for Good Autism Practice in Education

23 Nov 23
Di Sarah Broadhurst, SET Director, smiles at the camera. Next to her there is text that reads: Featured Post.

The Highlights: Meeting the Demand for Good Autism Practice in Education

Dr Sarah Broadhurst, AET Director, reflects on the positive reaction to the AET’s ambitious plans to upskill the workforce & meet the needs of autistic CYP...

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 27 seconds

Our 'Meeting the Demand' webinar was so well received, I feel buoyed by the support received for our ambitious plans to meet the demand for good autism practice in education.

The AET is committed to making a significant impact to the embedding of good autism practice across schools and trusts against the evolving landscape of Special Educational Needs (SEN).

The Current Landscape:

Let's delve into some concerning statistics provided by the Department for Education.

In England alone, there are over 180,000 autistic pupils, with 73% in mainstream schools.

The number of pupils with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan has risen, and sadly, only 1 in 4 autistic children feel happy in school.

This is a challenging scenario, and our goal is to change it.

The Impact:

The repercussions of not meeting the demand for good autism practice are substantial.

Autistic pupils are nearly three times as likely to be suspended, and only through understanding and proper training can we alter this disheartening trend.

The powerful voices of our autistic young experts is a constant reminder that their perspectives will always guide our work.

Photo of Dr. Sarah Broadhurst, AET Director, with the quote: Our ambition at the Autism Education Trust is BIG! We believe it has to be to make a necessary positive impact on the lives of autistic children and young people."

Our Commitment:

At AET, our vision is a world where all autistic children and young people experience an education that supports wellbeing.

Despite the well-documented challenges of inadequate resourcing and funding being available to support professionals to meet SEND needs, the AET is committed to offering flexible solutions to empower the education workforce to be better equipped.

Our award-winning professional development programme and training resources have been recognised as a beacon of positive change, and in my tenure over the last four years we've seen significant growth in our training numbers.

The Path Forward:

Looking ahead, we plan to increase our training numbers to reach 12% of the workforce and at least 27% of schools over the next three years.

This means over 500,000 education professionals will access evidence-based, quality-assured AET materials, fostering a positive environment for autistic children.

The importance of partnerships and collaboration

The importance of partnerships and collaboration was a key highlight of our webinar, highlighting the role of expert-led training via our AET Training Partners in effecting positive change and meeting needs at local community level.

Assistant Director, Rhonda Janes, discussed our plans for more partnership work: including more national projects, continued work with current local partners, and increased support for schools and trusts.

Peer Learning Networks:

Rhonda shed light on our commitment to peer learning, showcasing our pilot-phase new membership groups for teaching assistants and SENCo's. These groups provide a safe space for sharing experiences and accessing valuable information, fostering a sense of community and learning.

Increasing Demand for Bespoke Consultancy

Emily Niner, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Projects, outlined our approach to AET Consultancy partnerships with a core focus on evidence-based practices, outcome-oriented strategies, and collaborative efforts.

Emily highlighted the success of our national projects and the increasing demand for bespoke support from schools and trusts, which lead to Senior Programme Manager Fiona Riddle introducing our brand new online Work-Based CPD Program.

Through a network of AET work-based champions, schools and trusts will receive support to embed good autism practice skills. Fiona shared a testimonial from Jo Evans, CEO of St Christopher’s Academy Trust (excerpt below), highlighting the effectiveness of our program.

“As the CEO of a Multi Academy Trust, having tried and tested resources and training is enabling us to embed good autism practice at scale. Because of the AET offer, I know that the staff in our 19 schools are getting consistent, ongoing CPD.”


Our ambition is BIG!

We believe it has to be to make the necessary positive impact on the lives of autistic children and young people.

We can't achieve our ambitious plans without your involvement, and there are so many ways that you can be a part of our professional community and expert network.

You can access the webinar recording here:

Watch now!

Your questions and comments are vital, so please contact us if you would like to share anything!

Thank you for being a part of our critical mission to meet the demand for good autism practice in education.