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Autism Ambassador Groups

Autism Ambassador Groups come together, proud to be autistic and promoting World Autism Acceptance week


Warden Park Primary Academy, Warden Park Secondary Academy and Northlands Wood Primary Academy are all part of Sussex Learning Trust and have been working with the Autism and Social Communication Team (ASCT) for several years to support the Autism Ambassador Groups set up in each of their schools.

The concept of Autism Ambassador groups was developed by the West Sussex Autism and Social Communication Team (ASCT) to harness the power of pupil voice in developing understanding and acceptance of autism within school settings and within the wider communities that schools interact and associate with. These three schools piloted autism ambassadors in their schools and shared their experiences with the ASCT.

From working with schools, the ASC Team had become increasingly aware of the real difference that can be made to an autistic pupil when they are supported by staff and peers who have a good understanding of autism and when the autistic individuals themselves have the skills to articulate and share what their autism means to them.

Thanks to the support and commitment of these schools and the learning they have shared with the ASCT we now have a growing number of groups in schools who are consistently having a positive impact on their school communities.

Autism Ambassador Groups consist of a mix of autistic and neurotypical individuals.

Autism Ambassadors promoting Autism Acceptance

As COVID restrictions lifted staff at all three academies were keen to facilitate the three autism ambassador groups meeting to share experiences and to work together on joint projects. On the 21st February 2023 all three groups came together at the secondary school to plan how to raise awareness and acceptance of autism in their community.

On Monday 27th March 2023 forty-three Autism Ambassadors from the three schools undertook a charity walk at the secondary academy to raise awareness and to raise money. They set their target of 100 miles between them.

Commenting on the day, Northlands Wood Primary Academy Inclusion Manager, Sam Dann said “The children were amazing, so enthused and motivated. In total we walked 244 miles and raised an impressive £898”

Some of the Northlands Wood autism ambassadors commented:

I was very excited to raise money but also nervous to see how much money we had raised”

 “It was fun and we got a lot of exercise.  It was good we raised lots of money”

 “It was the most fun I had doing exercise”

 ‘It was a good day and I enjoyed going round with my friends from the Secondary School”

Some of the Warden Park Primary Academy autism ambassadors added:

It was fun because we could walk round different parts of the secondary but it was tiring!”

“It was important that we did it so we could raise money to help other children with autism and we can help them.”

“It was a regular walk but better! I was doing something to help the autistic children in my school.”

The Autism Ambassadors groups are often consulted for changes and developments within school including playground resources, regulation resources and the sensory demands of the school environment. 

Emma Phillips who supports the Warden Park Primary Academy Autism Ambassadors shared some of the feedback their group has had on developments around school.

We decided to make a calm area on the playground. It was important so we had a space on the playground to get away from the screaming and shouting.”

Children have commented that they “… like being able to go to a different spot. I can calm down, there’s less noise and I can relax.”

We moved furniture and made sure we had some places to sit. We also did some planting. Everyone in the Autism Ambassadors helped to tidy and make the calm area. We then shared what we had done in an assembly.”

Angela Baxter, Deputy Head of School (Inclusion) at Warden Park Primary Academy summed up the fit with the school inclusion vision and positive impact of their Autism Ambassadors group across the whole school:

 “We want all children to feel heard and accepted, and capable of having a positive impact on the world around them.  A group like the Autism Ambassadors, which brings together neurodivergent and neurotypical children to understand each other, care for each other and solve problems in their environment together reflects the inclusive vision we are striving to achieve.

Ian Simpson, Teacher-Additional Learning at Warden Park Secondary Academy who supports the school’s Autism Ambassadors added how valuable this pupil voice has been across the whole school community:

“From my point of view, the autism ambassadors provides a safe space for students to come and be themselves. Students are enlightened to be in a group with other neurodiverse students and many friendships have developed as a result. Involving students in the planning and vision of the group has led to many great ideas and contributions from students which in turn has visibly empowered the students and given them a voice.”

Top Tips for schools considering setting up an Autism Ambassadors Group

  • Talk to your ASCT Advisory Teacher to gain an understanding of how they can support you and suggest schools you may like to link with in your locality who have a group set up.
  • Consider how much the children or young people already know about autism.
  • Support the group to focus more on the strengths and differences of neurodiverse individuals and not on the deficits or difficulties.
  • Ensure that the members of the groups contribute in ways that are most comfortable for them.
  • Ensure that you give the group ownership of the projects/messages they would like to deliver.

Links to the West Sussex Inclusion Framework

The inclusive support in Northlands Wood Primary Academy, Warden Park Primary Academy and Warden Park Secondary Academy links to a number of Aspects and Dimensions within the West Sussex Inclusion Framework.

Within Aspect 1: The Environment, Culture and Ethos

1.2 A welcoming environment

  • A welcoming school where children and young people (CYP), parents and visitors are greeted and feel they belong.


  • CYP and parents can describe how they are welcomed and what efforts are made to overcome any barriers to their involvement and participation, so that everyone feels that they belong. For example, parents are greeted and treated with an awareness of different cultural, disability or sensory considerations.
  • The welcome area(s) is physically accessible to all visitors. A copy of the school’s accessibility plan is available on the school website.

Within Aspect 3: Personal development, well-being and welfare

3.1 Social and emotional wellbeing and self-awareness

  • There is an open and supportive atmosphere that promotes self-awareness and allows children and young people (CYP) and staff to reflect on their own emotional needs and triggers.
  • Staff and CYP well-being are promoted and supported allowing them to flourish.
  • CYP are given opportunities to share their feelings and emotions and these are acted upon by the adults within school.
  • The school curriculum is reflective of CYP needs and provides a universal curriculum for all CYP to develop all areas of social and emotional well-being and self-awareness.


  • Staff at all levels understand CYP’s behaviour in context, in terms of communicating or attempting to address unmet needs. Staff understand their role in co-regulating and developing CYP’s capacity to become independent, regulate their emotions and manage their behaviours effectively.
  • Staff audit the learning environment on a regular basis, ideally with parents and CYP, to explore how it meets the needs. The planning of the environment takes account of the triggers for CYP. Adjustments are made to the interior and exterior environment to make it accessible e.g. sensory garden/ low arousal spaces. Staff try to see the world through the CYP’s eyes and really listen to their experience, even though they may not truly understand exactly how this feels.
  • Staff do not assume CYP understand the language of emotions so use scaffolds to support their understanding and use language that supports co-regulation.
  • Staff understand the link between emotional regulation and readiness to learn and refer to the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) when concerns arise.

3.2 Respecting each other

  • Positive relationships support all members of the school community and shared values are understood by all.
  • All children and young people (CYP) feel individually valued and known.
  • Personal strengths are recognised within day to day school life.
  • The school counters all forms of discrimination.
  • The school curriculum is reflective of CYP needs and provides a universal curriculum for all CYP to develop all areas of relationship education.
  • Staff need to be challenged and reflective to teach a diverse curriculum, such as teaching history from different perspectives.
  • To teach a diverse curriculum, staff need to be challenged and reflective.


  • CYP show they have a real understanding of different viewpoints and feel able to positively challenge others’ language or behaviour and understand why they need to do this. They show respect for the different protected characteristics defined in law and no forms of discrimination are tolerated.
  • There are opportunities for CYP from diverse backgrounds, contexts and needs to learn from each other and together.