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Mandatory Autism awareness training for mainstream schools

Submitted by Kellie Mccart on Tuesday 22nd September 2020

Published on Monday 19th October 2020

Current status: Closed

Closed: Monday 19th April 2021

Signatures: 13,483

Relevant Departments

Tagged with

Assembly ~ Children ~ Mandatory ~ Save Lives ~ Schools ~ Staff ~ Thousands ~ Train ~ training

Petition Action

Mandatory Autism awareness training for mainstream schools

Petition Details

I would like all staff members in mainstream schools to be trained on autism and how to cope with meltdowns, I would also like awareness on autism put through assembly’s in school on a monthly basis to refresh children’s minds that not all people are the same. Making this mandatory could save lives.

Additional Information

Having autism awareness spread is important to thousands of family’s across the world and if schools knew more maybe the kids could be a bit better on school.

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Government Response

The Government responded to this petition on Tuesday 15th December 2020

The Government is committed to ensuring teachers and other education staff have access to training to develop and build on their awareness and understanding of supporting children with autism.

The Government’s ambition is for every child, no matter what challenges they face, to have access to a world-class education that sets them up for life.

All teachers are teachers of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), including children with autism. High quality teaching which is responsive to children's individual needs is particularly important for autistic children and others with SEND.

As part of their initial training, trainee teachers must satisfy the Teachers’ Standards, which include a requirement that they have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with autism, and that they are able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them.

Headteachers and local authorities are usually best placed to decide the training needs of their staff, in line with local needs and circumstances. The Government does not propose to make training in autism mandatory for staff in mainstream schools. All schools are expected to ensure that their staff have a good understanding of pupils' SEND, and are able to adapt their teaching accordingly. Schools are required to support this through their performance management and continuous professional development processes.

The DfE is committed to supporting the development of teachers' and educational professionals' skills, as well as evidence based and effective practice within schools and other education settings.

The DfE has been funding the Autism Education Trust (AET) since 2011 to deliver autism awareness training to staff in early years settings, schools and colleges. AET actively promote improved autism practice within settings and improved educational access, and provide a range of practical resources to inform practice at both setting and practitioner levels. They promote communities of practice to facilitate mutual support and shared learning. The AET has also developed national standards for autism support and a progression framework for those who work with children who have autism. These are available from their website at www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk.

To date, the AET has trained more than 277,000 people via its regional networks, not just teachers and teaching assistants, but also receptionists, dining hall staff and caretakers, promoting a whole-school approach to support for pupils with autism.

The DfE also fund the work of the National Autistic Society in providing advice and information on exclusions to parents and education professionals.

In addition, the DfE has funded the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen), on behalf of the Whole School SEND consortium, for a programme of work to embed SEND into school practice. This year (2020/21) included within the programme of work is the development of an Autism Resource Suite for primary and secondary schools.

In relation to school assemblies, it is the responsibility of the senior managers in schools to plan topics for discussions. However teaching about respectful relationships is now a compulsory part of the Relationships, Sex and Health Education which became statutory in the curriculum from September 2020.

At primary school pupils should be taught about the importance of respecting others, even when they are very different from them (for example, physically, in character, personality or backgrounds), or make different choices or have different preferences or beliefs.

This is built on at secondary school and covers the characteristics of healthy friendships and relationships, and how stereotypes can cause damage. The statutory content includes bullying and harassment and legal rights and responsibilities regarding equality, including that everyone is unique and equal. More information on the content can be found in the Relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The DfE has published Teaching about relationships, sex and health - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk), alongside implementation guidance which equips all schools to provide comprehensive teaching in these areas in an age-appropriate way, giving schools the confidence to construct a curriculum that reflects diversity of views and backgrounds, whilst fostering all pupils’ respect for others, understanding of healthy relationships, and ability to look after their own wellbeing.

For all these reasons, the Government believes it is not on balance necessary to mandate training for mainstream schools in the manner suggested.

Department for Education

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552054)

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