Over 40 professionals, parents, and students joined the ACoRNs team at Totton College on November 9th 2017 to focus on the voices and experiences of autistic students at school. The event was part of the ESRC’s annual Festival of Social Science which aims to showcase social science research to the general public.

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After an introduction from Professor Sarah Parsons and Dr Hanna Kovshoff from the University of Southampton, Chantelle Zilli gave an overview of her research being undertaken as part of her Doctorate in Educational Psychology. This project is a great example of research and practice in partnership as Chantelle is working with ACoRNS founding partner New Forest School. Her project is finding out how autistic students at the school feel involved in decision-making about their education.

Then there was time for mingling, networking and discussion with ACoRNS partners Bitterne Park SchoolBlackfield Primary School and Aviary Nursery.  Two students from Bitterne Park came along to talk about how they have been supported in expressing their views at the school, including through their art work.

Harriet Hummerstone, a Doctoral student in Education at the University of Southampton, also gave some insights into her research which has used creative visual methods for accessing the views of autistic students in secondary mainstream schools.

There was a great friendly buzz in the room with many good discussions taking place. This was a fantastic opportunity for the local community to get together to share ideas and to promote the importance of listening to the views and experiences of children and young people with autism.