LEANS is a free curriculum to introduce pupils aged 8-11 to the concept of neurodiversity, and help them explore how it impacts school experiences. It is a teacher-delivered resource for the whole class. LEANS is guided by three big goals: know-think-do. The aim is for participating pupils and staff to...
KNOW: Increase their knowledge of neurodiversity terms and concepts.
THINK: Develop more positive attitudes towards neurodiversity and neurodivergence.
DO: Increase individuals’ positive and inclusive actions within the school community.
LEANS in a nutshell
|What is LEANS?||
This resource introduces the concept of neurodiversity to children, and how it is relevant to their own schools and lives. It is a multi-session curriculum, with a mix of hands-on activities, storytelling, and factual resource items. LEANS was developed by a neurodiverse team of researchers and educators.
|Why should a class deliver LEANS?||Better-informed, more accepting school communities can help make school experiences more positive—for everyone. LEANS’ goals are to change pupils’ knowledge about neurodiversity, their beliefs about neurodivergence, and the actions they take at school.|
|Where should I deliver LEANS?||LEANS is for whole-class delivery in mainstream primary schools, to children ages 8-11 years.|
|Who should deliver LEANS?||LEANS is a teacher-delivered resource, but it won’t be the right tool for every class. We provide a self-evaluation exercise to help you decide.|
|When should I deliver LEANS?||Delivering LEANS takes an estimated 15-19 hours of classroom delivery time, or about 1-2 hours per week over a whole school term.|
|How can I deliver LEANS?||
The teacher handbook is a ‘one stop shop’ for developing your understanding of neurodiversity concepts, guidance on teaching this topic, and LEANS activity plans. It's a training course, in a book!
The resource pack provides all you need to prepare and deliver LEANS. It’s all free of charge, but does require a time investment, especially the first time you deliver it. We estimate 6-8 hours for initial programme preparation, to work through the handbook content and the planning and safety steps it outlines.
In 2021, we evaluated LEANS in Scottish primary schools, and used teacher and pupil feedback to create the final resources available today. After participating in LEANS, pupils more strongly endorsed courses of action (or made judgements about school situations) that aligned with the accepting and inclusive principles in LEANS, compared to the views they expressed before LEANS. On a post-LEANS quiz, they also successfully demonstrated knowledge of neurodiversity concepts and vocabulary. 90% of participants agreed “I think other schools should do LEANS too.”
What topics does LEANS cover?
The LEANS curriculum is organised into seven units, each one covering 1-2 main topics.
|1. Introduction to neurodiversity||Neurodiversity concepts and terminology|
|2. Learning and thinking differently||Variability of experiences with lessons and the physical school environment|
|3. Communication and understanding||Communication modalities and situations; miscommunication|
|4. Getting along together at school||
Understanding needs vs. wants, conflicting needs; Offering and accepting help
|5. Is that fair?||
Equality and equity-based concepts of fairness ; Applying fairness concepts to classroom supports, treatment at school
|6. Different ways to make a friendship||Friendship, relationships with classmates|
|7. Neurodiversity in our classroom||Review, reflection, and planning toward the future|
What kind of materials does LEANS include?
LEANS combines different types of materials across the curriculum. A small number of explainer videos introduce tricky new vocabulary and concepts, in child-friendly language. Each unit includes pupil activities. These are hands-on explorations of neurodiversity ideas, usually combined with class discussion or reflective elements. Activities vary in format and may include games, problem-solving tasks, or art.
Activities are integrated with the LEANS stories about a fictional, neurodiverse classroom of pupils, who are also doing a LEANS-like programme. The purpose of the stories is to show how the bigger-picture neurodiversity concepts impact people’s lives. The story characters represent a range of experiences, strengths, and challenges, and different diagnostic statuses (neurodivergent, differences but no diagnosis, and neurotypical). Fiction lets LEANS be specific about school experiences, without putting real class members on the spot to share personal information.
A set of colourful unit posters for classroom display help remind pupils of major ideas, during and after LEANS.
Currently, all materials are only available in English.
I’m interested in using LEANS—what do I next?
You can find more details of what LEANS is (and isn’t) on our FAQ page.
LEANS asks teachers to complete a self-evaluation, considering practical and safety issues around using LEANS in their class before they make a decision on adopting the resources. This programme won’t be the right choice in every class, right now.
Advertise LEANS in a school/ organisation with our free info flyer (2 sides of A4). This colourful flyer answers some key “who what where” questions based on the info table on this page, and provides web links.