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Require education staff to be trained on learning disabilities and autism

Submitted by Paula McGowan OBE on Saturday 3rd June 2023

Published on Tuesday 6th June 2023

Current status: Closed

Closed: Wednesday 6th December 2023

Signatures: 71,399

Relevant Departments

Petition Action

Require education staff to be trained on learning disabilities and autism

Petition Details

Every neurodivergent student should be able to get the education they need. Many neurodivergent students are being failed and denied the most basic support, or adjustments at school.

Additional Information

Too many educators lack the knowledge and skills in understanding these communities of neurodivergent people

I would like the Government to pass into law that all staff in educational settings must be trained on learning disabilities and autism. There are already requirements for this for health and social care staff.

The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism is the Government's recommended and preferred training package for health and social care staff. The training is available and has been formally evaluated. It has received funding from the Government and could easily be adapted to meet the needs of staff based in educational settings.


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Government Response

The Government responded to this petition on Tuesday 11th July 2023

The Department recognises the needs of all pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and considers all education staff as supporting SEND pupils.

The Department considers all teachers as teachers of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and the quality of teaching is central to ensuring that pupils with SEND are given the best possible opportunity to achieve at school. This includes education support staff across settings.

The Teachers’ Standards set clear expectations that teachers must understand the needs of all pupils, including those with SEND. All trainees who achieve Qualified Teacher Status must demonstrate that they can adapt teaching to respond to the needs of all pupils, including those with SEND. 

It is not mandatory for education staff to undertake the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training as this is aimed at health staff, but it can be adapted where headteachers deem this appropriate for their staff.

Headteachers use their professional judgement to identify any further training, including specific specialisms, for individual staff that is relevant to them, the school, and its pupils. Schools are best placed to make decisions on continuing professional development (CPD) that best meets the needs of their staff.

To support all teachers in meeting these standards, we are implementing a ‘golden thread’ of high-quality teacher training reforms which begins with initial teacher training and continues throughout their career progression. These reforms are designed to ensure teachers have the skills to support all pupils to succeed, including those with SEND.

All mainstream maintained schools and academies (including free schools) must have a qualified teacher, or the head teacher, designated as the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO).

SENCOs appointed after 1 September 2009 are required to achieve a National Award for SEN Co-ordination (NASENCO) within three years of appointment.

To further support the needs of pupils and students with SEND, particularly in mainstream settings where most of these learners are educated, we have funded the Universal Services programme.

The Universal Services programme, backed by almost £12 million, will help the school and further education workforce to identify and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND, including those with autism, earlier and more effectively. It will also help them successfully prepare children and young people for adulthood, including employment. The programme includes autism awareness training which over 80,000 professionals have undertaken.

Department for Education

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