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College staff offered training to help autistic students' transition to FE

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Training courses to help college staff support students with autism in their transition from secondary school are being launched across England.

Charity Ambitious about Autism is running the one-day sessions to improve the often difficult experience of transition. The progamme has been funded by a grant of nearly £240,000 from the Department for Education.

It  follows the charity’s Finished at School Programme, which ran between 2013 and 2015 and helped young people with autism access FE provision. Four colleges worked with schools and other agencies to improve the transition of more than 110 young people with autism. 

A report into the outcomes of the project, published last month, revealed the first cohort of 45 young people, who left school in summer 2014, all made successful transitions to post-GCSE education, with 34 going on to attend FE colleges. It recommended all college staff should have access to autism awareness training.

The DfE has now commissioned a follow-on project called Succeeding at College. The new courses will be run in 10 colleges across England in the autumn and spring terms of 2015-16. They are open to all FE and sixth-form college staff, as well as secondary school special educational needs coordinators and local authority transition leads.

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, said research showed that fewer than one in four young people with autism continued their education beyond school.

“It is vital young people with autism are given the same opportunities as their peers,” she added. “With the right support, they can make successful and worthwhile transitions to college, which is crucial to opening up doors to employment and preparing for adulthood.”

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