Jacqui Ashton Smith
Jacqui Ashton Smith (Dr) has over 35 years’ experience working in the field of education, autism and SEN. She has presented at numerous conferences world wide, delivered international training and consultancy and post graduate training at a number of universities in the UK, Europe and Japan.
Jacqui is a qualified teacher with post graduate qualifications in SEN and autism. She has a Doctorate in Education and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and has undertaken a range of training in the field of autism and education. Her specialist areas are Educational Leadership, the identification of Girls and Women on the autism spectrum, autism specific quality assurance and autism specific education. She was a lead trainer for the National Autistic Society in the UK and has had her research and papers published in professional journals.
For 25 years Jacqui was Principal then Executive Principal of specialist residential schools for autistic children and for the past 9 years has led the Education Division of a national organisation which runs eight schools as Head of Operations then Director of Education. She led all aspects of strategic development, business development and operations. As the Director of Education Development she has recently been involved in the opening of 4 specialist schools and has gained valuable expertise in this field.
Jacqui is a member of the Autism Education Trust Expert Reference Group and a member of the Expert Advisory Panel of Autism Accreditation, a UK quality assurance system run by the National Autistic Society for autism specific schools and adult services. She is an Associate Consultant for AT-Autism and has provided specialist consultancy in the UK, delivered management and autism training in the middle east and involved in a number of research projects.
- ShipCon Head Trainer, 2019 – Present
- Director of Education Development. National Autistic Society Academies Trust, (NASAT) UK. September 2017 – July 2019
- Responsible for the opening of Autism specific free schools for children and young people on the autism spectrum. Primary and Secondary ages and specialises in meeting the needs of able students on the autism spectrum with complex needs including mental health needs.
- Executive Director of Education. National Autistic Society and National Autistic
Society Academies Trust, UK. January 2014 – August 2017
- Strategic lead of the education division and managed the 8 specialist schools for students
on the autism spectrum UK wide. All aged and residential schools specialising in
the education of the full spectrum of need.
- Head of Operations. National Autistic Society, UK. January 2011 – December 2013
- Operational management of 6 specialist independent residential schools for students on the autism spectrum UK wide All aged and residential schools specialising in the education of the full spectrum of need.
- Executive Principal. Helen Allison & Robert Ogden Schools, NAS. January 2007- December 2010
- Strategic leadership and operational management of specialist ASD primary and secondary schools, further education colleges, weekly and termly boarding schools and children’s home. Specialising in the education of the full spectrum of need including a specialist unit for students with Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome.
- Principal. Helen Allison School. NAS. May 1993 – December 2007
- Specialist all age residential school and FE college. Catered for students on the autism spectrum
- Principal: Glendale School (Autism & SEN), Cape Town. 1987 – 1993
- Specialist SEN all age school with specialist provisions for students on the autism spectrum and those with mental health and/or social/behavioural needs.
- SEN Teacher SEN and Autism, 1981-1986 Experience in the full range of special needs including SLD, ADHD, Dyslexia and a range of specific learning difficulties and behavioural and social difficulties.
- Personnel Officer. Unilever, Johannesburg. 1979 – 1981
- Mainstream Primary, Middle and Secondary ages. 1977 – 1979
Achievements & awards:
- Appointed as one of the youngest and female Principals in South Africa.
- Headed the first special school in South Africa approved by the government to admit all children.1991
- Merit award- Exceptional Ability and Service to the Teaching Profession – Department of Education (RSA) 1988
- Runner up: Lifetime Achievement Award- Autism Professional awards 2015. ..\Lifetime achievement award.doc
- Part of the team who developed the SPELL framework.
- Part of the team who developed the Autism Accreditation standards.
- Opened 4 all aged SEN schools and 3 specialist units attached to mainstream schools to support students on the autism spectrum.
- How do we attract the right people to work in the field of autism- the identification of the personality characteristics, skills and leadership styles of effective staff in residential schools for students on the autism spectrum. Journal of Research in Specialised Education. 2016
- Mutual attraction? How do we identify, recruit and retain the right people to work with people on the autism spectrum. Good Autism Practice Journal. Volume 12, Number 2. October 2011
- Miss or Missed Diagnosis: Girls and Women on the autism spectrum. Ashton Smith, J & Gould, J. Good Autism Practice Journal. Volume 12, Number 1. P 34-41. May 2011
- Developed the full teaching curriculum (Primary and Secondary) for the new schools I developed including all policies and procedures.
Training: United Kingdom:
- Lead trainer in Autism, Asperger syndrome and Education for the National Autistic Society (NAS).
- NAS accredited SPELL trainer, Training the trainer
- Trainer for Canterbury Christchurch University course: Post Graduate Certificate in Education- Autism & Asperger Syndrome in your school.
- Co leader/ tutor- Sheffield Hallam University: Post Graduate certificate in Asperger Syndrome.
- Kent County Council – delivered a range of courses on SEN, Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Education
- England– Local authorities: training in the autism spectrum, challenging behaviour, neurodiversity.
- Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – a range of training delivered.
International training and consultancy:
- Universities of Athens and Thessaloniki: Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Education.
- Tokyo, Japan. Taisho University – A course on the identification and education of girls on the autism spectrum.
- Amman, Jordan – Led a team to deliver 5 days training for the British Council & Jordanian Government on Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Education, Leadership, Management, Organisational Structures and Autism specific Quality Assurance Systems.
- Oslo, Norway – 4 day training delivered to schools on education strategies in autism specific schools
- Zurich, Switzerland – 2 days training on the Identification and education of girls and women including social understanding and mental health issues.
- Saint Helier, Jersey – Consultancy and training delivered in autism and gender identity.
- Israel. Parent training in SEN and autism, education and challenging behaviour.
- The Republic of Ireland: Middletown Centre for Autism. Training courses on:
- Girls on the autism spectrum
- Autism and Transition
- Accreditation – Autism Specific Quality Assurance Systems.
United Kingdom Conference presentations:
- Presented at National Autistic Society International conferences:
- Quality assurance in autism specific schools and services
- Transition planning and managing change for people on the autism spectrum
- ASD and problem solving and decision making.
- Girls and women on the autism spectrum (annually)
- Miss or missed diagnosis – with Dr Judith Gould (annually)
- Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (annually)
- PDA and diagnosis with Dr Judith Gould (annually)
- Autism Scotland Conference: Girls and women on the autism spectrum
- Queens University, Belfast: Leadership and management of SEN & ASD schools
- BELMAS (British Educational Leadership, Management & Administration Society)
- Kings College London: Asperger Syndrome – Innovative methodology in educating students with Asperger syndrome
- Exeter University. Annual conference for SaLT Doctoral students:
- New Schools Network, Brighton UK: How to successfully open a new autism specific school.
- Birmingham University Conference with Theo Peeters and Rita Jordan on Asperger Syndrome
- Autism Education Trust: Asperger Syndrome – Innovative methodology in autism specific education.
- Research Autism UK –
- The first conference on the identification and education of girls on the autism spectrum
- Information Technology and autism
- Autism/AS and SEN
- Gender identity.- presentation & led an interactive brainstorming professional workshop.
- CoSPPA Professional Conferences-
- Person Centred Planning and autism
- Transition Planning and autism
- Feuerstein methodology an autism
- Leadership and management of SEN and autism specific schools
- Cutting edge practice in autism and education
- Identification and education of girls and women on the autism spectrum
- Taking Heads: what is innovation in the field of autism
- Durham University Research Conferences–
- Baseline assessments and autism
- Transition planning and autism
- Challenging behaviour and autism
International Conference Presentations:
- World Autism Congresses:
- Melbourne, Australia 2000- Autism Specific Quality Assurance Systems,
- Cape Town, South Africa 2006 – Autism and Transition, Quality Assurance
- Monterrey, Mexico 2010 on Autism & Girls and Women.
- Autism Europe Conferences:
- Glasgow, Scotland – Best Practice in autism and Asperger syndrome
- Lisbon, Portugal – Transition planning and the autism spectrum
- Budapest, Hungary – The identification and education of girls on the autism spectrum
- Catania, Sicily – The identification and education of girls on the autism spectrum
- Dubai Autism Society Conference: Quality assurance systems in autism specific education
- Japanese Autistic Society, Tokyo: Autism specific education strategy and systems in the UK
- Spain, Autismo Burgos Conference: Girls and women on the autism spectrum
- Malta Conference: Postponed to 2020 Girls and women on the autism spectrum
Research programmes and collaborative work:
- Ground breaking work with Dr Judith Gould (Wing & Gould) on the Identification, Diagnosis and education of girls and women on the autism spectrum.
- HANDS project: EU funded to develop smartphone technology to support autistic pupils in social situations. Other participants- Norway and Hungary.
- MBA: Evaluation of the effectiveness of quality assurance systems in SEN education
- EdD: The identification of the personality characteristics, skills and leadership styles of effective staff in residential schools for students on the autism spectrum.
- Hosted and participated a range of research programmes eg Bridges in Social Understanding, Universities of Birmingham, Kent and London School of Education and the Tavistock Clinic
- Worked with a range of local authorities in their development of education provision.
Memberships & Collaborations:
- Autism Accreditation- Standards Body & Expert Advisory Group: 1994 – present.
- AET (Autism Education Trust) Expert Reference Group
- Autism Accreditation- Lead Panel member: 1998 – 2015.
- CoSPPA (Professional Autism Association) 1996 – current. Chair for 5 years
- NASS: National Association of Special Schools.
- BELMAS: British Educational Leadership, Management & Administration Society
- PDA (Pathological Avoidance Syndrome) Research lead group
- Affinity project in collaboration with Scottish Autism.
- Associate Consultant: AT-Autism. UK
- Autism and education consultancy
- SEN consultancy
- Education Consultant: Bridges in Social Understanding, Singapore/UK
- International programme development