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.|
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.
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!
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.
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.
We’re a charity, after-school club, religious group, or other organisation—can we deliver the LEANS programme?
This question could mean:
- Outside groups going into schools to deliver LEANS
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.