Working in Partnership | The AET & Plymouth Learning Partnership

09 Nov 23
Jon Couch, Senior Educational Psychologist, (MAST) Plymouth Learning Partnership

Working in Partnership | The AET & Plymouth Learning Partnership

In this guest blog, Senior Educational Psychologist Jonathan Couch, from Plymouth Learning Partnership, describes a collaborative model of support and delivery for children and young people in schools.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 40 seconds

We are now in our 5th year of working in a successful partnership with the Autism Education Trust (AET) and schools in Plymouth have felt many benefits of our collaborative relationship in providing quality autism training for school staff.

Who are we?

Our organisation, Plymouth Learning Partnership, is a community interest company owned by its member schools, providing school services across Plymouth and surrounding districts. 

This means we have a close, collaborative relationship with schools, listening to their needs (meeting with head teachers and SENCos regularly) and being responsive to what support and services they require. 

Profits we make from any of our services are reinvested into support for children, families and schools in Plymouth, ensuring services are accessible and costs are kept as low as possible.

Our Multi Agency Support Team (MAST) and needs-led intervention

One of our key services to schools is our multi-agency support team that consists of educational psychologists, counsellors, therapists and family support workers who are able to provide holistic, joined up, needs-led support for schools where required. 

Back in 2004 we wanted to provide expertise at an earlier level to prevent escalation.

Our partner schools are able to request support for individual children and young people on a weekly basis for responsive, early help. 

There is no set threshold and no time limits on how long we may stay involved supporting a case – meaning we aim to know our schools and communities and be as needs-led as possible.

How do schools in Plymouth access AET support?

A large part of support for schools has been our systemic work and a capacity building CPD programme to help deliver training to a wide variety of staff in schools so that they feel they have the knowledge, skills and confidence to support children and families with a range of needs. 

This started off small and has rapidly grown to encompass a large variety of topics to support parent support advisors, teaching assistants, teachers, SENCos and senior leaders in schools. 

We review this programme annually and review feedback from attending participants and schools each year. 

It is into this context that the AET programme of training and support for schools has fitted so successfully.  We have been pleased with the range of AET courses which meet the needs of those staff who are newer to learning about autism, but also those who require a deeper level of knowledge and practical skills and who might, for example, be working with a child with autism on a regular basis.

There are also courses and resources aimed at those leading autism development at a senior level in schools to help make systemic change. 

Assessing the quality and impact of AET delivery in Plymouth

Courses are designed and co-constructed using research, knowledge and advice from skilled practitioners within the AET along with the AET’s Panel of young Autistic Young Experts and are reviewed using feedback from those delivering the courses and participant evaluations. 

The AET also provides a helpful network of support for their partners across local areas. 

We have been able to benefit from the creativity, ideas and experiences of our other AET partners from across the Southwest of England. 

The quality of course delivery is also maintained through our educational psychologists/practitioners observing each other delivering the AET training and we reflect on feedback from those attending and rating the courses. 

In addition, our multi-agency staff are frequently alongside our AET course participants (back in schools), helping them to embed their learning, answer any queries and provide further support.

To date, all participants from schools have rated the AET courses highly and we continue to look at new ways to deliver the information in the best way possible to meet the needs of schools and settings in Plymouth – ranging from delivering online, as well as in person in our training suite, and as whole school training in settings.

In summary

We have been very pleased with the professional, supportive and collaborative approach of the AET that has helped us provide quality autism training and resources for school staff in Plymouth. 

We look forward to continuing this relationship to further enhance professional development for school staff for the benefit of children, young people and families in Plymouth.

Jon Couch

Senior Educational Psychologist

(MAST) Plymouth Learning Partnership

For more information about the AET and how it could help your setting or area please visit: Find Your Local Training Partner