Even more questions and answers about what LEANS is (and isn’t!), and about using the resources.

What the LEANS resource pack is, and isn’t! 

✘ A one-off activity or event.  ✔ LEANS is cohesive curriculum with a progression of ideas and content across units. It is designed to be delivered over one term or longer, setting the class up to apply and reflect on this idea over time. 
✘ A “pick n’ mix” collection of stand-alone neurodiversity activities and tools.  ✔ The LEANS materials are a set, designed for delivery in a certain order—and many will make little sense out of-sequence! The LEANS Teacher Handbook explains why we discourage people from picking and mixing. 
✘ A neuroscience teaching resource.  ✔ For pupils, LEANS is light on brains and neurons. It does discuss information processing throughout, but focuses on people’s experiences.  
✘ A skills programme or intervention for children who are struggling socially or academically.  ✔ LEANS is designed for whole-class delivery, to upskill everyone about what neurodiversity is. It does not teach study skills or interpersonal skills—and tries to be minimally prescriptive about the “right” things to do. 
✘ A programme that trains teachers or gives “top tips” on how to teach neurodivergent pupils ✔ In the teacher-facing materials, LEANS gives a grounding on neurodiversity terms and concepts, and discusses how to teach about this topic sensitively and successfully.  
✘ An anti-bullying programme for schools.  ✔ LEANS talks about how our actions can impact others, but is not suitable as an anti-bullying tool. We’d encourage you to seek a dedicated programme. 
✘ A tool to tackle school exclusions, or anxiety around school attendance.  ✔ While LEANS seeks to increase accepting attitudes and actions in the school environment, it’s not a silver bullet. It was not designed to address these situations.
✘ Only for children with diagnoses of conditions like dyslexia, ADHD, Tourette’s, or autism.  ✔ LEANS is not a psychoeducation programme, and doesn’t give lists of facts about diagnoses. It discusses a range of experiences, including people without diagnoses.  
✘ A diagnostic tool, to something that encourages people to identify themselves or others as neurodivergent.  ✔ LEANS is a not a diagnostic tool. It does not encourage participating people to label themselves in any particular way, or include activities that ask people to label or sort themselves. It does encourage people to think of themselves as a member of neurodiverse groups. 
✘ The right choice in every classroom.  ✔ Classrooms need to individually assess their suitability for LEANS. Our self-evaluation exercise in The LEANS Teacher Handbook can help you do this. 

Community FAQ 

We aim to regularly update this FAQs section, as we hear from people who are using LEANS or considering it for their school. 


Yes, definitely! While our team is (mainly) based in Scotland, we have considered multiple UK education systems from the start. LEANS is designed for use across the UK and Ireland—not Scotland alone. Multiple members of our educator participatory design team worked in English schools, and we also included England-based teachers and community members during our consultation phase. 

The LEANS Teacher Handbook uses the term SEND as well as the closest Scottish equivalent (ASN), and explains how those terms relate to neurodiversity and the LEANS curriculum. 

This is a very common question—we know that there is a demand for secondary school content, and that students beginning secondary school in the UK (S1-2) are only slightly older than the LEANS target age group. Students beginning secondary/high school in other countries may be much older, making LEANS less appropriate!

There are two parts to answering this question. First, you can use LEANS in older classrooms—that is completely within the terms of use. If you choose to alter the materials for older students, this is also within the terms of use as long as you do not share any adapted content with others, post it online, or otherwise distribute it in any way. Adaptation is permitted for personal use only. Please review our terms of use.

Secondly, should you use LEANS with an older group of pupils, such as those just starting secondary? This is a judgement call for teachers about their individual classes, but do keep in mind that LEANS was designed for primary schoolers across the board. The stories in particular are obviously about a primary classroom—the same group of pupils together with one teacher, all day. The classroom environment, interactions, and pupil supports are likely to be different at secondary. The stories are integral to LEANS’ goals and content, so cutting them out isn’t a good solution here!

In general, it may be off-putting for secondary pupils to be presented with content that appears “too easy” or “for little kids”. Depending on your class, that may really affect whether pupils are willing to listen at all, or whether they take on board that neurodiversity also applies to their context. You wouldn’t want to send an inadvertent message that neurodiversity is “easy”, “boring”, “stupid”, or only for primary schools. LEANS also doesn’t address many topics that will be increasing in importance to older pupils, like phones/online interaction, romance, or exams!

All this said, LEANS may give useful ideas of topics or concepts to introduce in a secondary class, or other resources to look for. For example, there is other content out there on equity (i.e. fairness based on needs, rather than sameness), or you might use citizenship or human rights lessons to help frame a discussion on the difference between needs and wants. For older pupils, you may be better able to borrow from neurodiversity introduction articles, books, or videos created for adults. 

LEANS was designed for each class of pupils to do it in full, once. We honestly think it’s not the best use of time for that same group of pupils to repeat the whole programme again in one or more following years. They may also be much less engaged the second time around!

However, pupils can really benefit from consolidating their neurodiversity learning in later terms/school years, and getting further opportunities to apply these new concepts and terms. These opportunities could be planned (such as re-watching the three explainer videos from units 1, 4, and 5), or quite informal, with teachers picking up on connections or review opportunities as and when they arise in the curriculum. We would encourage schools and staff members to consider these review/consolidation opportunities, as a way to make the most of the time you have invested in delivering the LEANS programme.

As an example, your school might decide year 5 is the “LEANS year” every year, and then teachers in year 6 might plan to revisit key vocabulary and concepts, and actively try to connect these to new lessons or situations. For example, revisiting terms like neurodivergent and neurotypical, or identifying new examples of conflicting needs.

Note: SEMH stands for social, emotional, and mental health difficulties, and SEMH schools are specialised settings focused on meeting those needs.  

This question isn’t answered in the current Teacher Handbook. The short answer is: there is no automatic reason not to use LEANS in a SEMH school.  As in mainstream school provision, we recommend that you only choose LEANS if the majority of children in your class have literacy and interpersonal skills of age 8+, as that is where the resource is targeted. We have suggested a target age range of 8-11 years, but there is no reason not to use LEANS with slightly older pupils if they won’t be put off by materials/stories that clearly talk about primary school! 

School staff should review the materials, and make a judgement call about how well LEANS fits the specific group of pupils to whom they wish to deliver it. That is not about detailed self-evaluation like in Part 1 of the handbook, but general goodness-of-fit: the activity formats and options for modification, delivery time, level of adult support that pupils might need to take part. For example, how feasible is it for your pupils to do small-group discussion, or a piece of reflective writing? It might be great for some SEMH classes, and not workable in others! 

LEANS is free for any person to download, as long as they are doing that for a reason that respects our terms of use (for example, you are not downloading it to sell). This definitely includes parents and carers.

There may be many reasons you’d want to download LEANS, such as:

  • Your child is doing LEANS at school and you’d like to see the materials, or would like to continue classroom conversations at home
  • You’re interested in suggesting the LEANS resources to your child’s teacher/school
  • You want to better understand how neurodivergence/ a neurodiverse classroom might affect your child’s school experiences
  • You’re looking for ideas about how discuss neurodiversity concepts with your child in an age-appropriate way

We encourage you to do all those things! Parents and carers are incredibly important in supporting learning about every topic, including neurodiversity—and also play an important role in communicating to schools that they value neurodiversity in the curriculum.

What about directly using LEANS materials as a parent or carer? That’s a more difficult question. LEANS was not designed for home delivery by parents and carers, and we do not recommend the curriculum is used in that way. This does not imply in any way that parents/carers lack capability! It means that LEANS is very specifically about neurodiversity in the context of a mainstream primary school (not across all aspects of children’s lives), and was designed to be delivered by educators, who know and support them in that context. It also relies throughout on a group of children doing the content together (e.g. games, discussions). Using LEANS within your family or for home-schooling may be less relevant to children because you are outwith that school context, and many activities may not work without a group. That said, you are not violating the terms of use if you deliver LEANS outside of a school.

We’d encourage all parents and carers to have a look at our More Resources page, where there are community-suggested resources for children and adults (books, websites, etc) and also lists of relevant organisations.

This question could mean:

  1. Outside groups going into schools to deliver LEANS​​​​​​
  2. Delivering LEANS to a group of children, but outside of the school day.

Both questions have a similar answer, which is that we strongly encourage people not to use LEANS in this way. We think it will be less useful, and raises additional ethical issues. LEANS was not designed for delivery outside of a teacher-led classroom context.

There are many experienced people working outside of schools, and they may already have strong neurodiversity knowledge. If that describes you or your group and you want to deliver LEANS outside of a school, we would say…

  • LEANS is very specifically about neurodiversity in the context of a mainstream primary school (not across all aspects of children’s lives).
  • There is benefit in the class group exploring and learning about neurodiversity together, in the context where they see those differences play out. It can create new challenges if some classmates are learning about neurodiversity (for example, in an after school club or the scouts) and others are not. That may be compounded if their teacher has limited knowledge of neurodiversity, or holds negative attitudes about it.

That said, you are not violating the terms of use if you deliver LEANS outside of a school, as long as doing so does not generate income for your group, and otherwise respects the terms of use.

If you group wants to go into a school and deliver LEANS, we would say…

  • The programme was designed to be delivered by classroom teachers, to their own classes. They will know these children well, and be in a position to make judgments about the safety of doing the programme with this group, and to monitor how people are reacting (and interacting) as it goes along.
  • Children may continue to think and ask about LEANS topics long after the seven units are over. Their class teacher is the person who will still be there to answer questions and help children make sense of neurodiversity.
  • If third parties deliver LEANS because the class teacher is not interested (or not supportive), that adds risk for pupils. Their teacher may not be well-equipped to handle questions sensitively or accurately, or may contradict LEANS content in other parts of the class. An important purpose of LEANS is upskilling teachers on neurodiversity too—not only pupils.
  • Finally, neurodiversity isn’t neatly separable from other aspects of school. It’s part of every class, every day. We sincerely think it sends the wrong message to have a separate, “outside” person come in and deliver the programme.

Again, while not recommended, you would not be violating the terms of use if you delivered LEANS to a school as long as this did not generate any income for your group.

LEANS evaluation and neurodiversity quizzes

Yes, we conducted a pre-registered, school-based, teacher-delivered evaluation of LEANS in 2021, and used those results to refine the resource before the final release. Our team created two bespoke quizzes that tried to measure the specific ideas taught in LEANS, one focused on attitudes-actions and the other on neurodiversity knowledge. Overall, results from these measures and the study as a whole were positive and suggested that LEANS was a feasible, safe, and acceptable resource, and that it was successfully teaching children new content about neurodiversity, and affecting their attitudes. Please see our dedicated evaluation study page for details.

As of September 2023, a pre-print of our evaluation study paper is also freely available online, which includes more methodological and statistical detail than in the online summary.

In our evaluation study reporting and LEANS talks, we have referred to the “LEANS quizzes”. Our team created two bespoke quizzes that tried to measure the specific ideas taught in LEANS, one focused on attitudes-actions and the other on neurodiversity knowledge.  You can see some description of these quizzes on our dedicated evaluation study page, or the quizzes and scoring guide are available online for free.

Please also download the teacher quiz instructions, which you will need, but could not be added to the same file location as the quizzes (apologies!).

The teacher quiz instructions document can be found on the evaluation page

The quizzes and scoring guide are available online for free, and there is also a teacher quiz instructions document, which you will also need, but is not easy to find online (apologies).

The teacher quiz instructions document can be found on the evaluation page

Any teacher or school can use the quizzes and guides if they abide by the terms of use under which we made them available. These are the same terms as for the main LEANS resource pack—see some ‘plain English’ explanation of what the terms mean for educators.

The quizzes are not officially part of the LEANS resource pack, and there is no recommendation or requirement to use them. They were created for a different purpose, to answer research questions about LEANS. It is completely up to teachers whether and how they want to formally assess their class’s learning about LEANS content. If you think the quizzes are a useful way to do that, you are welcome to use them.

Please note: Changing the method of delivery, such as making the paper quizzes into online forms, does not violate the terms of use. You can do that if it is helpful, though we encourage you to still follow the original delivery instructions with the teacher reading out questions/answer options as an additional support. Thank you to the teachers who checked with us about this!

Yes, you could use them for non-commercial research, if you abide by the terms of use (Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license). Please note that these quizzes are specific to LEANS and reference the resources multiple time. They are not, in their current form, a general measure of neurodiversity knowledge and attitudes in this age group.

If you plan to use the quizzes for research, there is no requirement to inform us, but we would be very interested to know about your work and how you plan to use them. You can contact us at LEANS@ed.ac.uk

Other resources and services

We are looking into offering training, as many people have expressed interest in this! This would be a separate training option from the LEANS Champions educator training (which is about delivering LEANS in schools).  

If you or your organisation is interested in discussing training, please contact the LEANS team.

LEANS contact page 

Right now, our team does not have neurodiversity teaching materials for children under age 8, and have not created any materials for secondary schools or further/higher education. Similarly, we haven’t created materials for home use. We are actively exploring how to adapt the LEANS materials to other age groups and contexts, and are seeking funding for additional LEANS projects. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to create more materials without further funding.  

In the mean time: Our list of community-recommended resources currently includes some books (etc) that are targeted at younger children, teens/adults, and parents. This may be a useful place to start. Especially for families, you might also consider contacting a charity or other organisation.

Visit our More Resources page 

Training about LEANS

No, there is no required training to deliver LEANS in your classroom. We deliberately wrote the teacher handbook to be a “training course in a book”, and explain not only what you need to do, but why. You will need to set aside a chunk of preparation time to review the handbook, prepare the lessons, and talk to the staff in your classroom (such as teaching assistants) about safety planning around LEANS.

Please see the beginning of the teacher handbook for more information on how to get started with LEANS.

Download LEANS

The LEANS Champions training programme is not about training people to deliver LEANS in their own classroom, and it is not required for anyone.

Champions courses are about training education professionals for an advanced, voluntary role as “local experts” on LEANS. They would provide advice and support to other educators in their area, who may have questions about adopting LEANS, or handling tricky situations during its delivery.

​​​Find out more about LEANS Champions

The answer to this question has to do with the Terms of Use under which we make LEANS available. All users must agree to abide by these terms, in order to download it.

All LEANS materials are published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International. Our terms of use page explains what the “non-commercial” part means:

You may not use the material, including the LEANS illustrations, for commercial purposes. Commercial purposes include any that generate income for you or your organisation, including selling printed copies of LEANS materials, or charging people for training about LEANS. 

You may not charge for any training about LEANS, regardless of what kind of organisation/individual you are, or who is buying the training. That violates our terms of use.

These terms don’t prevent organisations from providing free training about LEANS, as long as you do not present yourself as being affiliated with the LEANS project, or claim that we have approved or been involved with your training.

In other training on neurodiversity and education topics, you are of course welcome to refer to or cite LEANS, in the same way you may already refer to other research, materials, or classroom programmes.

Citing LEANS

Please cite the LEANS resource pack and/or the LEANS teacher handbook as follows (example in APA style): 

Alcorn, A.M., Fletcher-Watson, S., McGeown, S., Murray, F., Aitken, D., Peacock, L.J.J., & Mandy, W. (2022). Learning About Neurodiversity at School: A resource pack for primary school teachers and pupils. University of Edinburgh. https://salvesen-research.ed.ac.uk/leans

Please cite the LEANS stories/story booklet as follows (example in APA style):

Alcorn, A.M., Fletcher-Watson, S. (2022). The LEANS story booklet, in Learning About Neurodiversity at School: A resource pack for primary school teachers and pupils. University of Edinburgh.