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Julia Leatherland

Autism and Pedagogy: Effecting Positive Change in Teacher Practices and Pupil Outcomes


Discipline/professional area 

Outline of research project

Considered particularly vulnerable within the pupil population identified with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), many autistic pupils experience multiple barriers to their successful inclusion in mainstream education. A gap in teacher knowledge of autism’s core features, and of its unique implications for individual autistic learners, is thought to contribute to a range of negative outcomes related to their achievement and well-being.

In response, a system, designed to communicate pupil-generated information to their teachers, is being developed on the assumption that improved teacher knowledge of pupil need will have a positive impact on autism pedagogy and pupil outcomes. Realistic evaluation methods will be employed to explore mechanisms of change, and inform future system development, should expected outcomes be observed.

Key references

House of Commons Education and Skills Committee (2006) Special Educational Needs: Third Report of Session 2005-2006. London: HMSO. [online] Available at: 802.htm [Accessed 21 February, 2012].

Hebron, J., and Humphrey, N. (2014) Mental Health Difficulties Among Young People on the Autistic Spectrum in Mainstream Secondary Schools: A Comparative Study. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. Vol. 14 (1) 22-32

Barnard, J., Prior, A., and Potter, D. (2000). Inclusion and Autism: Is it working? London: National Autistic Society

Sciutto, M., Richwine, S., Mentrikoski, J. and Niedzwieki, K. (2012) A Qualitative Analysis of the School Experiences of Students with Asperger Syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. Vol. 27 (3) 177-188.

Charman, T., Pellicano, L., Peacey, L.V., Peacey, N., Forward, K. and Dockrell, J. (2011) What is good practice in autism education? Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), Department of Psychology and Human Development, Institute of Education, University of London AET report

MacBeath, J., Galton, M., Stewart, A. S., MacBeth, A. and Page, C. (2006) The Costs of Inclusion: a study of inclusion policy and practice in English primary, secondary, and special schools. Commissioned and funded by the National Union of Teachers. 2006. [online] Available at: [Accessed, 02/04/2014]

Pawson, R. and Tilley, N. (1997) Realistic Evaluation. London: Sage

Director of studies
Professor Nick Hodge

Dr Bronwen Maxwell
Dr Luke Beardon

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