Staff Awareness and Training
With the current prevalence of autism suggested to be 1 in 100, it is likely that most school staff will have a pupil with autism in their school or class at some time. The importance of access to development and training is well documented and will
- increase knowledge about the autism spectrum among staff
- identify the importance of getting to know individual pupils, their strengths, interests as well as needs
- share good practice so that schools can make adjustments to their policies and practices
- support effective personalised provision for pupils
- promote equality and inclusion in teaching.
- improve outcomes for pupils on the autism spectrum
- encourage staff to consider their teaching style and its impact on pupils with autism
“The increased risk of exclusion from school and the need for improved communication amongst teaching staff and between teachers and parents/carers was highlighted. Children, young people and adults with autism felt that some teaching staff lacked an understanding of their problems.” (Wittemeyer et al., 2011, Autism Education Trust (AET): Educational provision and outcomes for people on the autism spectrum, p.10)
The nature of autism means that there will be great diversity in the level of support required for individual pupils. For some, an awareness on the part of staff that a pupil may think differently or require more time to process information, or perhaps require information in a more visual format, will be enough. For another pupil, skilled staff may provide significant accommodations and resources to address barriers to learning due to autism.
To meet the range of needs schools should strive to provide access to CPD on several levels
- Basic awareness of autism for all school staff (including management, clerical, janitorial, catering, bus and taxi drivers and escorts) to develop an awareness of the key features and effects of autism
- Provide information about individual pupils as necessary. Is there any provision for new, peripatetic or supply staff to get information or support?
- More specific training for staff working directly with children on the autism spectrum (including teaching assistants) to increase and develop their knowledge, understanding and skills and to review and reflect on their practice. These staff would also benefit from training in specific approaches and interventions appropriate to the needs of their pupils eg TEACCH, social stories, use of visuals, PECS
- Opportunities for accreditation through Certificate, Diploma or Masters for staff who have knowledge and experience and may have a lead role or responsibility for autism within the school
- to help question and evaluate current practices
- to provide support and advice to other staff
- to audit staff training needs with an overview of whole school practice.