What education professionals need to know about the new autism strategy

28 Sep 21
Photo from the waist down. Child standing in school uniform, long, grey pleated skirt

What education professionals need to know about the new autism strategy

In July 2021, The Department of Health and Social Care and The Department for Education published a National strategy for autistic children, young people and adults: 2021 to 2026.

National strategy for autistic children, young people and adults

The strategy offers the government’s intentions to improve the lives of autistic people and their families and carers in England. It builds on the previous strategy: Think Autism, which was published in Spring 2014.

How did the Think Autism Strategy change?

On 19th March 2019, a review of the old National Autism Strategy was published. Two surveys, 2,745 responses and seven focus groups considered the strategy around four themes:

Being a part of the local community

The community’s understanding of autism

Respondents of the survey reported that, in general, the people and organisations in their local area had poor understanding of autism and the needs of autistic people.

This theme also considered: Taking part in the community.

Getting the right support at the right time

This theme focussed on ease of access to information for autistic people. Are they able to access information on the care and support they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives?

Support during education

The new autism strategy is being extended to include children and young people for the first time, so the review also asked questions about the support that autistic people received throughout their educational life from early years to higher education.

‘Almost half of autistic respondents (47%) reported that they felt poorly supported in their education […] Only 5% said they felt well supported.’

This theme also considered: People’s experience of getting a diagnosis, Professional understanding of autism.

Developing skills and independence and working to the best of your ability

This theme considered the support that autistic people could access to help them develop the skills they need to live independent lives. Survey questions asked about the amount of support received in the transition from school to paid work and the support from their employers.

Support when leaving school or college

‘Almost half of autistic respondents (47%) said they felt poorly supported.

This theme also considered: Support to help find a job.

Progress and priorities for future action

This part of the review asked respondents what they thought of the progress made since the publication of Think Autism, and what they wanted to see improve in future.

You can read more about the review, including summaries of the focus group findings, on the Gov.uk website: Summary of findings from the government’s review of the National Autism Strategy 'Think Autism': call for evidence

The new strategy: how can the Autism Education Trust help

The Autism Education Trust is a not-for-profit organisation which supports autistic children and young people in their educational life. Their training modules and materials are offered through their Partners who tailor support to the needs of autistic people in their local community.

The findings of the Think Autism review have led to the introduction of the new 5-year strategy: National strategy for autistic children, young people and adults: 2021 to 2026.

The strategy has 6 main areas:

Helping people to understand autism.

How the AET can help: You can explore all our modules, including an awareness-raising module for those working with autistic children and young people. Appropriate for everyone, whether you’re a teacher, learning support assistant or school meal supervisor.

Read about our Autism Training

Helping autistic children and young people at school.

How the AET can help: Free online resources, including the Progression Framework, which monitors the progress of individual pupils, the Standards Framework, which considers leaders and leadership groups and the Competency Framework, for individual staff members within a setting.

Explore our Resources

Helping autistic people to find jobs.

How the AET can help: The Transition to Employment Toolkit.

Making health and social care services equal for autistic people & making sure autistic people get help from their communities.

How the AET can help: contact your local training partner to get tailored support for your education setting. The AET license holder for your local area will plan their own autism strategy with the needs of autistic people in their local community at the forefront.

Find out how they can help you: Find your local training partner

Help for autistic people in the justice system.

Find out more in their easy read version of the strategy: The national strategy for autistic children, young people and adults: 2021 to 2026

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