In welcoming the guidance, Minister Madigan said:
“My vision is of an education system with inclusion at its heart where every child is fully supported to reach their full potential. School staff do wonderful work to support students and today’s announcement is about making sure they have the resources they need. This guidance provides an essential reference point for people working with autistic children and young people in an education setting. It is the first and most comprehensive guidance framework of its kind and can be accessed through a user friendly interactive online portal on the department’s website.
“The guidance draws from a wide range of local and international research and effective practice in the area and will help schools in their practice and engagement in the school and classroom environment. More broadly, the guidance will inform teacher education programmes and training programmes for school staff.”
The guidance is relevant to supporting students across mainstream, special class and special school settings. It provides information and support across eight key areas of practice to support the wellbeing, learning and participation of students with autism.
A companion document to the guidance document, outlines indicators of effective practice which schools can use as part of a reflective process to review aspects of provision for students with autism.
Minister Madigan said:
“Education is a right and should be vindicated as such. In developing this guidance, the department aims to ensure that all our schools have the knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to adapt their culture, provision and environment so that all our autistic students can engage in meaningful, full-time participation in their school communities. Consultation with education stakeholders was a central element in the development of the guidance and the guidance will be reviewed and updated in light of experience.
“Today’s publication is a further support in ensuring that inclusion remains at the heart of education and that every child is able to fulfil their full potential at school. I am confident that these supports will be of benefit to many students, their teachers and families.
“I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the valuable work being done in schools and classrooms, and the dedication of our school staff to creating a school environment that supports the wellbeing, learning and participation of our autistic students.”