Mandatory autism training for teachers would ensure pupils given support, says Ferguson

Education Rachael Ferguson

Mandatory autism training for teachers would ensure all pupils receive the support they need, Alliance’s Rachael Ferguson has said.

The Alliance Foyle Assembly candidate said the action would not only give children and young people early support but make educational provision accessible to all in society.

It is one of a range of proposals from Alliance relating to education in its forthcoming manifesto, which includes a cap on school uniform fees, securing evidence-based relationship and sexuality education as part of the school curriculum, and investing in mental health counselling services within all schools.

“A number of reviews, both internal and external, have highlighted repeated failings with how pupils with special educational needs (SEN) are treated and supported in school,” said Councillor Ferguson.

“Children with SEN should have the same access to quality education as others, alongside support which meets their needs on a daily basis, so they can have the best opportunity to achieve their full potential.

“That’s why Alliance wants to see a range of measures introduced in the next Assembly mandate to give that support. Mandatory autism training for teachers and a speeding up of the statementing process for those who need it would give children the support they need in class.

“Special needs is not some form of devastating diagnosis, despite what some may think. Autism and other conditions are differences to be respected, accepted and included across all sections of society. We need to protect the most vulnerable in our society, while making education accessible and affordable to all.”