Three Scottish charities have welcomed new measures developed in partnership with the Scottish Government (SG), the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), Education Scotland (ES) and the Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE) to improve autism awareness and training within schools and educational settings. The measures are a direct outcome of the findings from the ground-breaking Not Included, Not Engaged, Not Involved report, published in 2018.

Children in Scotland, the National Autistic Society Scotland and Scottish Autism have worked with the Scottish Government and partners to agree a number of changes that will ensure new teachers receive a common baseline of content on autism during their initial teacher education (ITE) programmes. This will form part of the most comprehensive set of measures anywhere in the UK to ensure all teachers have access to the most up to date information on how to support autistic learners.

The announcement by the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, comes following Children in Scotland, National Autistic Society Scotland and Scottish Autism’s Not Included, Not Engaged, Not Involved campaign that found a third of parents surveyed had their child unlawfully excluded from school in the last two years.  A lack of knowledge in how to best support and include autistic children in education was cited as the primary reason for these exclusions.

The measures agreed with the Scottish Government, GTCS, ES, SCDE and the three charities include:

Revisions to the framework used by the GTCS to accredit programmes of Initial Teacher Education (ITE).  Accreditation will require an outline of how a programme is designed to develop and promote equality and diversity with a specific reference to a range of neuro-development differences, including autism.

Inclusion of reference to the key areas of additional support needs, including autism, within the revised GTCS Professional Standards for Teachers which are to be used from summer 2021.  These Standards set the benchmark for what is expected of teachers and which support their professional learning.  GTCS has recently published a Professional Guide for registrants on autism to support its revised Professional Standards.

Development of a common baseline of content on autism during the delivery of initial teacher education (ITE) programmes.

HM Inspectors continuing to consider how well the needs of all children and young people with additional support needs, which includes autistic learners and their specific needs, are being met. 

Ongoing development of the ‘Autism toolbox’ for new and more experienced teachers. 

Creation of a community of good practice sharing in autism across the country for education professionals.

Creation of an implementation group to support embedding these changes.

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