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"It's not fair!" How do we teach children about fairness and equality?

As Educational Psychologists, we are constantly working with pupils who may be considered neurodivergent, promoting their inclusion in the classroom. To do this, we may recommend the use of technology (such as touch typing or a reading pen), access to fiddle toys and other assistive equipment, ‘time in’ with specific adults and a whole plethora of other strategies. We might refer to these as ‘reasonable adjustments’, in keeping with the SEND Code of Practice (2015).


However, when it comes to implementation, school staff will sometimes ask ‘but if I do that for them, I’ll have to do it for everyone else. Otherwise, how is that equal?’

Equality within education is not about treating every pupil equally, but instead, it’s about ensuring that every pupil has an equal opportunity.

And to do that, everyone may require something a little different. Equality pushes us to celebrate individual difference and to recognise the unique contribution that each member of a school community brings.



To support with this, The University of Edinburgh has developed ‘Learning About Neurodiversity at School’ (LEANS). LEANS is a freely available curriculum, targeted at Key Stage 2 pupils, with the ambition of introducing the concept of neurodiversity and increasing the acceptance of difference within schools. LEANS defines neurodiversity as meaning that “we are all different in how we think, feel, and learn, because our brains process information differently”. Based on this definition, LEANS stresses that “neurodiversity includes everyone, because everyone has a brain!” Rather than focusing on pupils who have been identified as neurodivergent, LEANS is a whole-class teaching resource that involves every pupil thinking about their attitude towards neurodiversity.


Through increasing the pupils’ knowledge of neurodiversity, creating more positive attitudes around neurodiversity and encouraging inclusive actions within the school community, LEANS begins to support children in no longer stating “it’s not fair”, opening up the possibility of responsive, inclusive practice in the classroom, designed to meet the individual needs of each and every pupil.


For more information on LEANS or to download the full curriculum for free, please visit www.ed.ac.uk/salvesen-research/leans.


Do you have a specific question about LEANS? We’re lucky enough to have a LEANS Champion within the Learning & Wellbeing Psychology team! Drop us an email at contact@learningandwellbeing.org and Dr Amy Such will get back to you.

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