Autism awareness in the Department for Education, and in schools.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Education,

What autism / Asperger / ASC awareness training do Department for Education staff receive, particularly decision-makers?

What form does this take?

Who provides the training?

How often is this training rolled out?

What autism / Asperger / ASC awareness training do schools receive, from the Head Teacher downwards?

How do you ensure schools are sufficiently autism aware and make the necessary and appropriate adjustments to properly and effectively understand and support such pupils?

Yours faithfully,

[P. Smith]

Department for Education

Dear [P. Smith]

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as
possible. For information, the departmental standard for correspondence
received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days as you
are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2011/0043097

Thank you.

Central Allocation Team

Public Communications Team

Tel: 0370 0002288

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Department for Education

Dear Ms Smith,
Thank you for your emails dated 15 and 19 June concerning autism
training.  You requested information on autism awareness training in the
Department and in schools and whether autism awareness training is part of
the teacher training syllabus in all teacher training institutions.  I
have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


Department for Education (DfE) staff do not receive specific
autism/Asperger's syndrome/ or autistic spectrum condition training. 
However, during 2011 training sessions have been held on each of the
Department's four sites to look at the Equality Act 2010 and its
implications for DfE policy and practice. These sessions have looked at
all protected characteristics under the Act, including disability.  These
sessions were provided by the Department's Equality Mainstreaming Team. 
It is for schools themselves to decide how to use the funding they receive
from their local authorities through the Dedicated Schools Grant, or
direct from the Government in the case of Academies, and whether to use
the funding for in-service teacher training.  Schools can use the funding
to provide in-service training on autism.  In 2009 the Department
published in-service training materials to help early years and school
staff meet the needs of children on the autism spectrum under the
Inclusion Development Programme
(IDP) ([1] 

An "Evaluation of the impact of DfE investment in initiatives to improve
teacher training skills in relation to SEN and disabilities" (Universities
of Warwick and London) found that by November 2010 some 66 percent of
primary and 49 percent of secondary teachers were aware of the IDP, and
newly qualified teachers were more confident to support pupils with SEND
if they had received IDP training.  Some three quarters of SEN
Coordinators reported attending local authority training. Most SENCOs who
had attended training reported that the IDP materials had promoted
discussion of pupils’ teaching and learning needs (96 percent SENCOs),
improved teachers’ knowledge (94%), improved teachers’ empathy with
pupils’ having barriers to learning (90%), and benefited the learning of
targeted pupils (89%). 
The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) has also produced
training materials on special educational needs.   In June 2008 TDA
launched a comprehensive training resource for providers of undergraduate
primary initial teacher training (ITT).  It included 18 taught sessions,
including one specifically focused on recognising and supporting children
with autism.  In 2009 TDA launched a resource for secondary ITT, which
included a taught session on autism, and Self Study Tasks for primary and
secondary Post Graduate Certificate in Education courses covering the same
ground.  A similar approach was taken in materials for Newly Qualified
Teachers which were published in 2010.  

The Green Paper Support and aspiration: A new approach to special
educational needs and disability, which was published in March, said that
we have asked TDA to commission advanced level online training materials
for teachers about profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe
learning disabilities, ansd complex learning difficulties and
disabilities.  It also said that the Department will make available free
of charge the TDA training materials focused on four areas of SEN,
including autism. 

Autism awareness training is not a specific mandatory requirement
for qualification as a teacher nor is it a compulsory part of in-service
training.  However, to qualify as a teacher a trainee must know how to
make effective personalised provision for those they teach, including
for those who have special educational needs or disabilities, and how to
take practical account of diversity and promote equality and inclusion in
their teaching.  They must also know and understand the roles of
colleagues with specific responsibilities, including those with
responsibility for learners with special educational needs and
disabilities and other individual learning needs.   

When inspecting schools, Ofsted reports on how well the school meets the
diverse needs of the school's population.  New inspection requirements set
out in the current Education Bill are quite explicit about SEN and
disability.  Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools (HMCI) will be
required, when reporting on the quality of education in a school, to
consider specifically how the school meets the needs of pupils who have a
disability and of pupils with special educational needs, including those
with autism. 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.


If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter.  Your complaint will be considered by
an independent review panel, who were not involved in the original
consideration of your request. 


If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office. 


Yours sincerely,

Nigel Fulton
Special Educational Needs and Disability Division
[email address]

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2011/0043097.

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P. Smith

Dear Department for Education,

Thank you for your response.

Because of the policy of "Inclusion", most teachers will encounter a pupil with diagnosed or undiagnosed autism / ASC / Asperger syndrome.

In effect, ALL teachers have become SEN teachers, through this policy of "Inclusion".

If autism awareness training is not mandatory, this explains the ongoing utter misery experienced in mainstream schools by most on the autism spectrum, especially in senior schools.

Are there any plans to make such training mandatory, because currently the education system is NOT working for those with ASCs.

What other plans to make life more tolerable for those with ASCs in schools, are there?

Please follow this link:-

A school which totally fails an ASC/autistic child can be passed by OFSTED with flying colours for SEN in general.
"New inspection requirements set out in the current Education Bill are quite explicit about SEN and disability."
Please could you tell me where I can see a copy of these new requirements? How do they relate to autistic children in mainstream schools? Do they addrsss the issues?

Autism is a VERY PARTICULAR disability. Autism awareness training for all school staff, the Dept for Education (and OFSTED inspectors) is essential.

Yours faithfully,

[P. Smith]

Department for Education

Dear Ms Smith,
Thank you for your email dated 1 July following your earlier Freedom of
Information (FOI) request about autism.
As you say, autism is a particular disability and guidance which the
Department published back in 2002 said that all who plan and provide for
children with autistic spectrum disorders should have an understanding of
the condition and my response to your FOI set out some of the ways in
which the Department and the Training and Development Agency for Schools
is working to raise awareness of autism amongst school staff.  In
addition, since 2007 the Department has funded the Autism Education Trust
to raise awareness of autism and to promote good practice.  Currently the
Department is funding the Trust to deliver basic level training on autism
to some 20,000 staff, more advanced training to some 600 staff and yet
higher level training to 200 staff.  In addition, the special educational
needs and disability Green Paper, Support and aspiration, says that
outstanding special schools, including autism-specific special schools,
can apply to become "Teaching Schools" which will develop staff in their
own schools alongside staff in other local schools and sharing their
expertise.  The Green Paper also commits the Department to helping local
networks of schools develop teachers with specialist skills who can be
deployed across local clusters of schools.  These could include teachers
with specialist skills in autism. 
So as you can see the Department has taken and is continuing to take
action to increase awareness of autism amongst school staff.  However,
there are no plans to make autism training compulsory in schools, or in
the Department for Education or Ofsted. 
With reference to Ofsted, Clause 40 of the current Education Bill
([1]// sets out the duties that will be
placed on Ofsted when reporting on schools, assuming the Bill receives
Royal Assent.  In reporting on a schools Ofsted will have to consider how
well the education provided at the school meets the needs of disabled
pupils and those with special educational needs.  A framework for future
inspections is being developed at the moment, following a consultation by
Ofsted, and will be published in the autumn. 
Yours sincerely,

Nigel Fulton
Special Educational Needs and Disability Division
[email address]

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2011/0047900.

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
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