Beacon
Behaviour Support for Schools

Four tried and tested ways of supporting students with ADHD





Recent statistics state that around 11% of 4 to 17 year olds have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. So that means that in your class of 30 children, 3 of them COULD potentially have ADHD.

ADHD is a condition that people are born with. It affects the transmission of messages along the neural pathways. CT scans show that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that deals with executive functioning skills, is the area which is most impaired in people with this condition.

Typically, children with ADHD present with a range of behaviours such as:

  • an inability to maintain focus
  • excessive movement
  • little sense of danger
  • impulsivity
  • excessive talking
  • fidgeting
  • calling out.

A person with ADHD is so inattentive or impulsively hyperactive (or both) that daily functioning at home, school or work is compromised.

(By the way, if you're interested in this, you might also be interested in our article Five ADHD Myths Busted).

However, this description may apply to many students in your class, whether or not they have a diagnosis of ADHD! Your challenge is how to help your pupils manage these behaviours.

Strategies to support pupils with ADHD therefore fall into two main categories - helping with focus and helping with organisation.

Here are four tried and tested strategies to support pupils with ADHD that will actually benefit many of the pupils in your class, and make it easier for you to teach :

Remove unnecessary distractions from pupil's desks

Only put out equipment such as pencils, rulers, rubbers, books etc, when they are actually needed. This cuts down on the need to interrupt learning time by repeatedly asking pupils to put things down or stop fiddling.

Have a seating plan

Using a seating plan (for desks and carpet time) that ensures that more easily distracted pupils are NOT amidst the flow of classroom traffic, or near to windows, doors, easily accessible equipment. Often pupils with ADHD struggle to sit still. Make sure they have enough space around them (perhaps seated on the end of a row) and make sure you keep sitting and listening time short and sweet.

Break tasks down

Break larger tasks down into small, manageable chunks. Use visual reminders such as task boards or now and next prompts to help pupils recall the order in which things need to be done. It can help to tick completed activities off the list, so that pupils can see that they are working methodically through the task (and that the end is in sight!)

Ask: can they do it?

Only ask pupils to do things that they are physically able to do. If sitting in silence for two minutes is a much as they can do right now, don't expect them to go into whole school assembly and sit silently for 20 minutes. They simply won't be able to, and this will lead to frustration for everyone.

Moving forward

Like all children, pupils with ADHD have strengths and abilities. Make sure you find out what these are and chose to focus on them. Some very successful famous people started life with ADHD, including Michael Phelps, Albert Einstein and Richard Branson.

Who knows what your pupil's could achieve?!

Staff meeting activity

This activity will take approximately 20 minutes and will enable staff to think about and discuss the provision they make for pupils with ADHD.

You will need:

  • Access to interactive whiteboard to show 6 minute video clip
  • Downloaded and printed out copy of Classroom Management Scoresheet
  • Pens, paper and post its on tables
  • Flip chart

Ask staff to sit in their year groups or phases for this activity.

Explain to staff that they are going to share ideas for helping pupils with ADHD, and these ideas will benefit lots of other pupils in their classes too.

First, watch the 6 minute clip 'Four Tried and Tested ways of Supporting Students with ADHD' (see the top of this newsletter)

Then, in groups:

2 mins: Discuss any pupils who you think have ADHD (whether or not they have a diagnosis). List the types of behaviours that you observe from them in class/ on playground.

2 mins: Take feedback - one example of behaviour from each group (scribe on flip chart)

5 mins: Chose one behaviour from the list e.g. calling out. Discuss when this happens and why it is disruptive. Think of three ideas for how to support pupils in managing this behaviour better. Think about, where the pupils are sat and what the adults should say and do when the behaviour occurs.

2 mins: Take feedback - examples of suggestions for different types of behaviour (scribe on flipchart)

2 mins: Ask each team to agree one action from the ideas list that they will take, starting tomorrow! Ask them to write on post its and then you can display them in the staffroom, as a reminder.

2 mins: Show printed copy of The Classroom Management Scoresheet. Ask staff to visit the website, print off a scoresheet and rate themselves or a partner before the next staff meeting (check in with staff before the next meeting, to find out what they discovered)


Do you teach students who have a diagnosis of ADHD? What support strategies do you use?

Share your ideas with our community in the comments section below.



Share this article with your friends: