Jess Hirst: “Developing a holistic understanding of the barriers and facilitators to school outcomes for autistic pupils in mainstream schools”

In Students by General Account

We know that academic outcomes for autistic pupils in mainstream schools are hugely heterogeneous and data also suggests that there is an attainment gap between autistic pupils and their peers. As well as this, there are also reported differences in the experiences that autistic pupils have in mainstream schools. Autistic pupils report experiencing more bullying in schools than their neurotypical peers, and many autistic pupils do not find school a positive place to be.

In my PhD I am aiming to develop a more holistic understanding of school outcomes (both academic outcomes and well-being/ positive experiences) and the factors that might impact these, so that more targeted support for autistic pupils in schools can be implemented. To do this I will first use survey and interview studies to ask autistic adolescents and their parents about what school outcomes are the most important for them, and what the barriers and facilitators to these school outcomes are. I will use this information as well as prior research to develop a theoretical model of predictors to school outcomes. The second phase of my research will consist of testing this model empirically to see which of these predictors seem to be the most important for different school outcomes.