Mandatory Autism Training to be Introduced for NI Teachers

Posted in : NI on 6 February 2020
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Minister for Education Peter Weir, agreed earlier this week to introduce mandatory autism training for all teachers and classroom assistants throughout Northern Ireland. This was the first debate within the Chamber to take place since the reinstatement of the Assembly.

The news comes after three long years of campaigning from local charity Autism NI. Kerry Boyd, CEO of Autism NI has reacted to the news stating, “I am absolutely delighted that this step has been taken by Minister Weir to introduce mandatory autism training. The school environment is ultimately where a child spends most of their day and therefore it needs to be fit for purpose to support that child. If teachers are given the correct skills and strategies to understand autism, they can support autistic children to reach their full potential.”

Figures from the Department of Health last year showed that one in thirty school age children (9,768) had been diagnosed with autism with the vast majority in mainstream schools.  Kerry Boyd said at the time, parents in some areas were waiting up to 18 months for their children to be assessed and receive support services, adding, “The vast majority of children with autism are within mainstream schools.”

Chair of the All Party Group on Autism and DUP MLA Pam Cameron said: “I’m pleased that the motion I put forward for mandatory autism training was well received by the Minister for Education Peter Weir and gained support from all parties. The introduction of this vital training is promising to ensure our children get the support they need to take them into adult life.”

Read the full press release from Autism NI:

Christine Kearney, Director of Development at Autism NI will be speaking on Autism & Neurodiversity issues in Northern Ireland schools at Legal Island's education conference NI Schools' Legal Update 2020

Christine's session 'Equality Issues 3 - Autism & Neurodiversity' will set out how schools should deal with students diagnosed with autism and neuro-diverse conditions and those awaiting formal diagnosis and provide delegates a checklist of options for school leaders to consider.

View more information on this event here:

This article is correct at 06/02/2020

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