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Reducing exclusions and improving outcomes for children and young people with autism

A paper by IPC and Autism Education Trust shows evidence that the needs of children and young people with autism can be met within mainstream services, confirming the efficacy of the whole-system commissioning model the IPC developed in 2017.

Using case studies from three regions across England, the paper sets out good practice in the approach to commissioning services. It illustrates a practical application for children and young people of the ‘Ordinary and unique lives for adults with a learning disability and/or autism: a six steps approach’ through the implementation of the Autism Education Trust (AET) programme. It goes on to demonstrate instances where savings for the public purse have been made, referrals to specialist autism support teams have been reduced, and exclusions and demand for specialist settings have been lowered.

The paper looks at the application of the Autism Education Trust (AET) programme in these studies. The AET is a national partnership, operating across England, and funded by the Department of Education. It creates and delivers a national professional development programme to enhance knowledge, understanding, and skills in the workforce, across early years, schools and post-16 settings. AET partners span local authorities, the voluntary sector, universities, and schools.

The paper argues that early intervention and short-term intensive intervention both have a role to play in managing the demand on specialist services but on their own, they are not enough. Using the IPC whole-system commissioning model offers a new approach to managing demand through investing in a ‘mainstream plus’ approach.

The Autism Education Trust provides a framework that can be used to change culture within education settings and across the local authority by providing training, ongoing support, and an approach to managing demand for top up funding and Education and Health Care Plans. Embedding the AET Programme creates a mainstream workforce that is skilled and confident, and local mainstream settings that are resilient enough to educate the local population of autistic children and young people.

The skill, confidence, and resilience in mainstream settings reduces the demand on specialist services, helps to prevent exclusions, and decreases the associated costs.

With local authorities reporting the common challenges of increasing numbers of autistic children and young people, a lack of confidence and skills in mainstream settings to support and educate them, and increasing demand and spiralling costs, the new approach embodied in the mainstream plus model promises cost-effective returns through reasonable adjustments to working practice and targeted support.

For further information on the IPC whole-system commissioning model contact IPC Assistant Director Philip Provenzano. For more information about the Autism Education Trust, contact Sarah Broadhurst

Philip Provenzano,

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