The National Autistic Society Scotland has responded to a call for views from the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee on Additional Support Needs in school education.
The call for views was intended to inform an evidence session with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, which will take place on 8th March on the subject of school education.
Our submission focused on one of our main objectives; ensuring that teachers have a better understanding of autism. Autistic children and young people (and their parents) are clear about the necessity of this: in a survey we carried out in 2015 on what our charity’s priorities should be in relation to our work with Government, 70 per cent of Scottish respondents identified teacher training as the most important change that needed to happen in our education system.
Currently, there is no requirement for new teachers in Scotland to learn about autism. This is despite the fact that there are 13,423 autistic children in Scottish schools and the likelihood that every teacher will have autistic pupils in their classes throughout their careers.
Following the success of the Every Teacher campaign, a concerted campaign by parents and teachers supported by The National Autistic Society, all new teachers in England will be trained in autism from 2018. Our submission called on the Scottish Government to follow the UK Government's lead and include autism in the Initial Teacher Education framework in Scotland; meaning that all new teachers must learn about autism.
We also outlined the importance of ensuring that teachers who are already qualified have access to training in autism as part of their continuing professional development.
We believe that autistic children in Scotland should be educated by teachers who really understand the condition, and know that a child who is understood and supported can make excellent progress.
You can read our full submission here.