What schools and further education settings can do

Guidance and tips for becoming an ADHD-friendly school.

If you are at all concerned about a child or young person, you should always speak to your designated safeguarding lead as a matter of priority. They will be able to advise on suitable next steps, and speaking to them about any concerns should always be the first action you take, ahead of any of the suggestions on this page.

Although the suggestions on this page are broadly split into primary and secondary age groups, the majority of the advice can be applicable for all ages. All children and young people are different, and it’s important to understand the needs of the individual child and young person when looking for ways to support their mental health and wellbeing.

Amongst other things, the ADHD Foundation notes that an ADHD-Friendly-school (AFS):

  • ensures that all staff implement AFS practice ensuring that if a child doesn’t respond to the way that they teach, then they need to change the way that they teach to ensure that learning takes place
  • expects high standards and believe that all pupils can make progress beyond their starting points
  • is one where all staff model positive behaviours and reward the behaviour they want to see more of
  • sees physical activity and nutrition as an important aspect of allowing the child to succeed and build this into their daily timetable

What primary schools can do

Adapt the learning environment

If a child struggles to focus in lessons, teaching staff will need to adapt the learning environment and their teaching style to compensate for regular distractions, limited organisational skills and poor concentration.

Focus on strengths

A ‘strength-based approach’ can often help children with ADHD – focusing on what the child can do well, rather than on the negatives, and helping them to develop into a more confident learner.

Develop social and emotional skills

All children will benefit from schools delivering good quality teaching programmes supporting all children’s social and emotional skills. Some whole-school programmes have shown promise in reducing hyperactivity in children.

What secondary schools and further education settings can do

Adapt the learning environment

Provide students with movement breaks, think about where they sit in the classroom and break tasks down into smaller chunks to make them more manageable.

Consider the need for additional support within the classroom

Having a teaching assistant or additional needs coordinator work with a student in the classroom may be beneficial.

Refer to specialist services for assessment

If a student is presenting with possible OCD but has not had a diagnosis, they will need specialist support via CAMHS. For advice before making a referral, schools can call their local CAMHS duty line.

Concerned about a child or young person?

If you are worried that a child or young person is at risk involve your designated safeguarding lead as a matter of priority who will contact the parents/carers and other services as necessary. If the child or young person is at immediate risk, ensure that they are taken to their GP or A&E as a matter of urgency, depending on the severity of the concern.

Find out more

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