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Autism Education Trust (AET)

Autism Education Trust Youth Panel Member, and Edvocation Services Public Speaker and Advisor: Jacob Willis at his first AET board meeting:



'I have an amazing opportunity ahead of me.  A chance to be heard and a chance to influence change.  I feel privileged to be working with an amazing group of people who are just like me.  We come from all over the country, but our stories and experiences are pretty much the same.  I have a lot to learn and a lot to give.  Being with young people – some of whom find it more difficult to speak in front of others than I do – has made me really realise the difference it makes when you give someone time to articulate their thoughts – take the pressure off and wait that little bit longer and they are incredible.  Importantly being given that time to speak makes you feel valued’.


Jacob Willis in the board meeting room, Evelyn Yard, London, at the start of his first AET Youth Panel Meeting.


Reflecting on his experiences as a Public Speaker, Jacob explains:


‘I’m beginning to get used to the changes that are happening in my life.  My first venture was when I was invited to speak to parents at Whittington Primary School.  I received a standing ovation.  I was then asked to present at Shropshire’s SEND strategy conference for professionals, parents and young people – an audience of nearly 200 people.  From local beginnings I have been asked by Sarah Boradhurst – the director of AET – to speak at the National Autism Show in Manchester. And each time I think to myself – I hope I will do a good job!’


The Autism Education Trust was founded by DfE as an amalgamation of Ambitious About Autism and the National Autistic Society underpinned by academic research by the University of Birmingham.  The Autism Education Trust are the named training provider for Autism in the SEND Code of Practice (2015), and the Government continue to fund projects and research undertaken by the Trust.


The Autism Education Trust Youth Panel is comprised of 10 young people from 16-25.  All have a diagnosis of autism and some have additional learning needs.  These young people have travelled through mainstream, specialist and alternative educational provision.  Together they review and input into Government Policy and Strategy on Education policy to give a voice to Autism.  These young people have spoken with Ministers at the House of Commons and been invited to the House of Lords. In May this year Jacob was asked to join the Youth Panel after being successful in his application. 


Shropshire Council have provided the opportunity for all staff across our schools in Shropshire to receive Autism Education Trusts Tier One training ‘Making sense of Autism’, and offer more specialised training at Tier two – for teachers and TA’s working with a young person with autism, and Tier three for school managers to develop school ethos and culture with regard to the legislation on Equality (2010) and the Children’s and Families Act (2014). 

Examples of the variety of work we have been doing across Education and Health:

Since starting out, Edvocation Services Ltd have worked across the key services of education, health and social care to deliver affordable and bespoke work to support families, young people, school staff and local authority professionals.  This work has included:

  • Working with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Service to support the diagnostic processes for autism assessment.

  • Individual tuition in home settings for young people unable to access mainstream schooling. Highly personalised, low arousal approaches to the curriculum focused on personal, social, emotional health and academic activity organised around the interests of a young person as well as traditional curriculum approaches.

  • Contribution to EHCP process.

  • Assessments of profiles and screening of individual young persons strengths and challenges from: Autism; ADHD; Oppositional Defiant Disorder/Conduct Disorder; Anxiety and Social, Emotional and Mental Health. This includes report and recommendations.

  • Input and support in transition of young people back into mainstream and specialist provision placements.

  • Social care PA support for respite and interventions for families and young people through 'out and about' opportunities, as well as specific strategies to empower young people and families to recognise, manage and respond to behaviours.

  • Delivery of training to support schools in managing pupils with a diverse range of needs to achieve better outcomes.

  • Parent, social care and school requests for assessment of needs screening and advice on interventions. 

  • Supporting school and parent/carers applications for requests for referral to CAMHS.

Professional achievements and strategic partnership work:


Receiving the Vic Fincklestein Award for excellence in Health and Social Care research.   Angela was nominated for this award for her doctoral study of the 'Experience of a Year Nine autistic pupil in a mainstream secondary school'.






Working with Shropshire Council SEND team delivering Autism Education Trust

training to staff from Shropshire schools. Tiers 1; 2 and 3.





                                          Working with Mental Health and Wellbeing Service as the Educational Consultant                                              as part of the assessment team for Autism Diagnosis led by Dr Mohamad.

Working in partnership with Empathy for Special Children as part of their

Empower Outreach programme to support and advise parents through

Education, Health and Social Care frameworks.




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