Before committing to the LEANS curriculum, we recommend that a class’s teacher or co-teachers complete a short self-evaluation exercise. Self-evaluation is about assessing how LEANS may fit (or not fit) with your class and school’s circumstances, and what the likely effects of delivering it would be.
Self-evaluation covers practical circumstances, like staffing and delivery time, but is primarily about safety. Teaching a diversity-related topic is never completely risk-free: we are discussing real people’s lives! We believe that the risks related to delivering LEANS are broadly in line with teaching other topics that are already better-established in schools. However, there are some risks more specific to neurodiversity as a topic:
People using their neurodiversity knowledge to hurt others (intentionally or unintentionally).
Increasing (instead of decreasing) marginalisation of neurodivergent people at your school, or increasing negative attitudes toward this group.
People feeling distressed by thinking and talking about neurodiversity.
Throughout, LEANS content and guidance have been developed with an eye on mitigating these risks as far as possible, but teachers still need to make a judgement about their specific classroom circumstances.
So, when might LEANS be a good fit for a particular classroom?
Some of the key features would be…
A qualified teacher can prepare and deliver the LEANS curriculum in full during the same school year, and substantially as designed. This person should be the class’s main teacher.
In general, the class’s pupils and staff treat each other with respect and consideration. The class and school do not have patterns of bullying amongst pupils or staff.
Pupils have had prior experience with talking about diversity and/or socially sensitive topics at school, and staff feel comfortable discussing these topics too.
You DO NOT need to be a neurodiversity expert to successfully deliver LEANS! The Teacher Handbook can help you get to grips with this topic.
The resource is not recommended for pupil cohorts who would be unable to access it without major amendments (e.g. younger age groups, classes with a large numbers of English language learners).
This isn’t the whole list—the LEANS Teacher Handbook includes a structured self-evaluation questionnaire with 18 yes/no questions about characteristics and circumstances that might support LEANS delivery, or represent elevated risks.