Stage of Research: Translate Team Members: 4
Autism Communication Neurodiversity SEND

Electronic Developmental Support Tool (EDST)

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Research shows that all children and young people are able to thrive in mainstream education if their needs are adequately supported in a timely manner. However, support is often diagnosis-led, meaning that many children and young people must have a particular cluster of difficulties (e.g., those associated with autism or ADHD), and reach a clinical threshold to receive tailored support within the classroom.


Meanwhile, there are also children who do not currently, and may not ever, meet clinical thresholds, yet still face difficulties in the classroom. These children also need to be adequately supported. We must, therefore, move from a diagnosis-led system to a needs-led system, which will allow for all children to receive the support they need to thrive. In many cases, effective support can be delivered through inclusive, quality first teaching for all, backed up by simple adaptations to common policies.


Importantly, research has demonstrated the ability of early statutory assessments – such as the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) – to identify unmet need (e.g., a child later being identified as having Special Educational Needs). However, the EYFSP was never intended for this purpose.

A team of researchers, service providers and educational psychologists drew inspiration from existing tools (such as the EYFSP) to develop an Electronic Developmental Support Tool (EDST). This new, digital tool empowers teaching staff to identify children’s learning and support needs and can be delivered at multiple time points throughout a child’s education. It then automatically suggests evidence-informed approaches and interventions, that can be put in place immediately by teachers and parents.


As part of the EDST offer, all staff within participating schools will also participate in training surrounding neurodiversity and neurodevelopmental disorders (the recognised medical term for conditions that meet a clinical

threshold), as well as potential strategies or practices that might be put in place.


The tool is currently being trialled in 13 Key Stage 1 settings, with the aim of working with an additional primary 50 schools in 2024.

The ESDT brings together advice and guidance from specialists across health and education to ensure that help is offered when it is most needed for children and young people.

Project Image for Electronic Developmental Support Tool (EDST)

Fundamental Research

Core Science

Fundamental Research

Discovery and Design


Trials and Assessment

Co-design and test in ~ 10 schools


Large Randomised Controlled Trial


Regional Rollout


Evidence-based Policy

Our team members

Avatar Image for Ava Green

Ava Green

Bradford District Care Trust - Head of Autism

Avatar Image for Ruth Dennis

Dr. Ruth Dennis

City Of Bradford Metropolitan District Council - Principal Educational Psychologist

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