teacher, pupil and assistant

The Government has today confirmed that from September 2018 every new teacher in England will have to learn about the needs of autistic children and young people as part of their teacher training.

Until now, there has been no requirement for new teachers to learn anything specific about special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). We have been campaigning for SEND – and autism in particular – to be included in the new Initial Teacher Training (ITT) framework. This framework has been published today, and it states clearly that all trainee teachers should learn how to adapt their teaching strategies so that pupils with autism are fully included and helped to succeed.

Over 7,000 people signed our joint open letter with Ambitious About Autism in the spring, which called on the Government to include autism as a compulsory part of ITT. With the vast majority of children on the autism spectrum in mainstream education, every teacher will teach a child on the autism spectrum at some point in their career. So it is essential that every teacher has the tools to support all their pupils. We're delighted that the Government has listened, which wouldn't have been possible without thousands of you speaking out. 

Providers of teacher training courses (such as colleges) will have to have the new ITT framework in place by September 2018. Both they and the Government will need to make sure that this training gives new teachers the skills they need. 

We look forward to working with the Department for Education and training providers to make sure they have access to the best training resources on autism, so that every child on the autism spectrum has a teacher who understands them and can help them succeed in school. And our charity will continue to campaign for every autistic child to receive an education that supports them to reach their potential.

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society, said:

“The new framework will mean that, for the first time, every new teacher in England should have a basic understanding of autism and the different ways it can affect students. This is fantastic news for the autism community and will make a huge difference to the lives and prospects of generations of children on the autism spectrum. 

“Children on the autism spectrum often share certain difficulties, such as struggling to understand unwritten social rules and managing change, but it affects each individual differently. Around 70% go to mainstream schools, so teachers are bound to work with autistic students at various points in their career. Yet, until now, there hasn’t been a requirement for new teachers to learn about autism. 

“This is why we and Ambitious about Autism, and over 7,000 of our supporters, have been calling on the Government to include autism in Initial Teacher Training. We’re pleased they’ve listened to our voices and will now be working with the Department for Education and training course providers to make sure teachers get the skills they need. We’re also calling for the governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to follow suit. 

"Every teacher deserves the right training, and every autistic child needs a teacher who understands them.”