teacher 2Every new teacher in England will be required to learn about the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) as part of their initial teacher training from September 2018, the government has confirmed.

In ‘A framework of core content for initial teacher training (ITT)’, the Department for Education’s response to the Carter Review of initial teacher training, it confirms that those training to be teachers will be given training in SEND for the first time.

Currently, there is no requirement for teachers to learn anything about SEND, although campaigners have been calling for this to change for some time.

The framework states: “Providers should equip trainees to analyse the strengths and needs of all pupils effectively, ensuring that they have an understanding of cognitive, social, emotional, physical and mental health factors that can inhibit or enhance pupils’ education. Providers should ensure that trainees understand the principles of the SEND Code of Practice, are confident working with the four broad areas of need it identifies, and are able to adapt teaching strategies to ensure that pupils with SEND (including, but not limited to, autism, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory impairment or speech, and language and communication needs (SLCN)) can access and progress within the curriculum. Providers should ensure that SEND training is integrated across the ITT programme.”

This move has been welcomed by the National Autistic Society (NAS), which has been campaigning for this. Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, 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.”