Over 45 ‘change catalyst’ teachers from primary, secondary, grammar and specialist schools in the Bay recently packed the Livermead House Hotel to kick off the second year of Autism training that will lead to an intensive yearlong Autism Champion training for some of them.
The aim of the trailblazing training initiative, which launched in 2015 and has just graduated its first cohort of Autism Champions (the first of their kind in Devon), is to even the playing field for local young people on the spectrum and create truly Autism Friendly schools.
The three tiered training programme is delivered by Fosse Way School and includes training from the Autism Education Trust (AET). Autism Champion Trainees are given an understanding of autism, how it affects young people in school and how children on the autistic spectrum can be helped to build positive relationships within school so they can concentrate on learning.
“Today has given me a better understanding around the behaviour and needs of autistic children and has given me the opportunity to reflect on what happens in my classroom. It’s lovely to work as part of a team and swap ideas,” says teacher Shaun Wingrove, Whiterock Primary School.
“The training is highly effective and set to benefit all students across Torbay,” adds delegate Lizzie Aston, Assistant Principal at Brixham College which has Torbay’s only designated Autistic Spec Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) provision within a secondary school setting.
“We’re a step closer to having an Autism Champion in every Torbay school. They’re already making a huge difference to the lives of young people by understanding the unique set of challenges they face and giving them the right support so that they can flourish and thrive,” says Autism-Friendly Schools Co-ordinator Mary Bruton.
“Torbay is leading the way in the South West with this programme and creating a future where children on the autistic spectrum can access a flexible, relevant and meaningful curriculum in mainstream education by tailoring teaching and learning to their needs,” says Jo Clay, Trainer for the Autism Education Trust who is based at its SW regional hub at Fosse Way Specialist School in Bath. “We’ve been hugely impressed by the enthusiasm and passion of this year’s cohort and their positive reactions to the training,” she adds.
Autism Champion Training was created in response to a survey conducted by the Autism Task and Finish group for Torbay Schools’ Forum. It identified that 4% of local young people were on the Autistic spectrum and schools wanted specific training in order to achieve the best outcomes for them.Follow