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BERA and the Kusuma Trust: Neurodiversity in mainstream schools grant programme

BERA is partnering with the Kusuma Trust to deliver several research projects with the aim to improve the school experience and academic attainment of neurodiverse young people. The value of each individual award is up to £50,000 and there is budget for up to four projects.


This funding stream aims to improve the school experience and academic attainment of neurodiverse young people through classroom-, school-, college- or informal learning-based research. Research should include the trialling and testing of new approaches with the aim of contributing to key ongoing debates in the following thematic areas:

  • improvement of life skills (ages 2-18)

  • pathways to employment or improvement of employability skills (ages 12-18)

  • inclusive classroom practice (ages 4-18)


From the Anna Freud Mentally Healthy Schools website:

 Neurodiversity refers to the differences between how people think, process information, behave and communicate.  It emphasises that everyone’s mind works differently. People have different interests, motivations, skills, and strengths. These differences should be recognised, understood, respected, and celebrated. 

While everyone is unique, most people are neurotypical – their brains process information in a relatively similar way. People who process information differently may be neurodivergent.  

Neurodivergence refers to differences in mental or neurological function from what is considered ‘typical’. This results from a difference in the way the brain develops before birth and during childhood, and affects how someone communicates, behaves and responds to the world around them. 

In recent years, BERA has been active in supporting a greater understanding of how best to nurture neurodiverse young people. This has included podcasts, funding research and publishing numerous blogs and journal articles.

The funding

The Kusuma Trust is generously supporting this work with the funding to enable significant research projects to be undertaken.  BERA is administering the grant and using its expertise in promoting and assessing the proposals and then finalising, publishing and disseminating the outcomes. 

The aim of this research funding is to generate knowledge that benefits the public good in line with BERA’s charitable objectives. This scheme will support higher education providers to achieve quality research and knowledge exchange to support the aims outlined above.

The value of each individual award is up to £50,000 and there is budget for up to four projects. The final amount awarded will depend upon the quality of the bids received. While we would like the three themes above to be addressed overall, we are not committed to funding one project per theme but will instead award the highest quality bids overall.

The grant period will be up to 15 months, commencing in November 2024 with final report published in January 2026. Indicative dates are below – the exact deadlines will be clarified in the final award letter.

Applications open

21 June 2024

Enquiries meeting

September 2024

Applications Due

September 25th 2024

Award Date

November 2024

Research Conducted

December 2024 – September 2025

Interim report Due

March 2025

Project update meeting

May 2025

Report Due

November 2025

Report Published

January 2026

Research must be conducted (and the grant administered) through a university institution in the UK, with all research taking place in the UK with results primarily applicable to the UK context. Whilst acknowledging the different education systems and policies in the four nations of the UK, we would hope that learning would have relevance across all four jurisdictions and both the research, and the final report should be aware of this context.

The partner school, college (or informal learning setting) must be identified in the application and have confirmed, in writing, their willingness to participate in the research for the project to be considered. It should also be clear at the time of application whether the setting wishes to be named in the final public outputs of the project.


Ethical approval must be confirmed before the funding can be transferred. The host organisation is responsible for ensuring that ethical issues relating to the research project are identified and brought to the attention of the relevant approval or regulatory body. Approval to undertake the research must be granted before any work requiring approval begins.

Ethical issues should be interpreted broadly and may encompass, among other things, relevant codes of practice, the involvement of human participants, tissue or data in research, the use of animals, research that may result in damage to the environment and the use of sensitive economic, social or personal data. The BERA Ethical Guidelines can be found on the BERA website here.

Although higher education institutions may submit more than one application, an individual may not be listed as Principal Investigator in more than one application.

Applications can be made for a contribution to a larger research project, as long as the proposed grant makes up at least 20% of the total cost of the research.

 Criteria for Assessment

Proposals are submitted on a proforma (see below) and each proposal is judged as to how well the aims and objectives of the proposed research address the priority theme and are rigorous in their approach. We will also need to be satisfied that the proposed research team is able to fulfil the research set out.

Applications will be scored in the first instance by BERA’s College of Reviewers and assessed as to:

  • Originality, potential contribution to knowledge and the extent that the proposed project demonstrates innovation potential. (10%)
  • Quality of research design and methods including the soundness of the concept, and credibility of the proposed methodology. (30%)
  • Relevance to the aims outlined above. (10%)
  • Significance of outputs and dissemination for impact – the extent to which the outputs of the project would contribute to each of the expected impacts mentioned. (30%)
  • Value for money – including the proportion being spent directly on research activity. (10%)
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion[1]the extent to which equal opportunities are considered in the research team and for research participants. (10%)

There will then be a final decision made on which project/s to award made by a panel of BERA trustees, Kusuma Trust representatives, ensuring that expertise is the subject is included as a part of the final decision-making process.

[1] BERA’s work is based on building meaningful, enduring, and respectful relationships across different peoples and cultures. To do this successfully, requires a strong commitment to EDI and this commitment extends to all aspects of our work. When we talk about EDI at BERA, we mean treating people fairly, impartially and without bias creating conditions which encourage and value diversity, promote dignity and inclusion and a culturally sensitive approach. 

Conditions of award

 Successful recipients will be expected to adhere to the timetable outlined above and agreed din the final award letter. The researcher/s will be expected to liaise regularly with BERA about the project progress and release of funding will be conditional upon satisfactory progress being made. In addition, it is expected that the named PI will be involved in any progress meetings and presentation of research findings.

Recipients must ensure that the Project is carried out in accordance with all applicable ethical, legal and regulatory requirements including but not limited to relevant provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation, the Data Protection Act 2018, the Bribery Act 2010, the Fraud Act 2006, the Equality Act 2010 and the Modern Slavery Act 2015. All relevant safeguarding legislation must be adhered to. We particularly draw your attention to child protection legislation and the Modern Slavery Act 2015. You must have sufficient policies and/or processes in place in order to foster Safeguarding.

We reserve the right to call for periodic updates on the Project’s progress or to visit

the Project team, or request participation in evaluation studies. The Grant Holder must make all reasonable efforts, if so invited, to respond to requests for information or to attend events or activities organised by BERA or the Kusuma Trust concerning the research undertaken, including requests or events after the end of the Grant Period.

Recipients are wholly responsible for staff funded from the Grant, including Research Fellows, and accept all duties owed to and responsibilities for these staff, including, without limitation, their terms and conditions of employment, and their training and supervision, arising from the employer/employee relationship. In line with BERA’s commitment to equality, Research Fellows must be appointed as an employee for the full duration of their award.

Unless otherwise agreed, all intellectual property shall belong to the party that generates them. Where the Grant is associated with more than one Research Organisation and/or other project partners, the basis of collaboration between the organisations including ownership of intellectual property and rights to exploitation, must be set out in a formal collaboration agreement in a way that is proportionate to and appropriately reflects the exact nature of the collaboration. Recipients will be responsible for ensuring that all parties engaged in the research make every reasonable effort to ensure that the intellectual assets obtained in the course of the research, whether protected by intellectual property rights or not, are used to the benefit of society and the economy.

Branding and Publicity

 Adherence to the communications policy is a condition of the receipt of funds for a BERA Research Commission. We expect you to:

  • Provide publicity for the funding
  • Acknowledge Kusuma Trust and BERA support as far as possible, including in all publications and other forms of communication, such as press releases, PowerPoint presentations, papers, stationery, etc… using the logos where appropriate. You must follow our visual identity and logos
  • Give BERA advance notice and sight of press releases and, where possible, advance notice of likely newspaper articles, media appearances; this also applies to social media publicity where it may be beneficial to coordinate messages with the BERA office. Please contact .

Any published reports or outcomes from the Commission should be published through BERA in the first instance, not least through the final report submitted. This will be published open access on our website.


 We expect the projects to result in a final report of 5,000-6,000 words to be published by BERA. Each final report should take the form of the following:

  • Executive summary (500 words)
  • Introduction: provides background information to contextualise the project and a brief review of any relevant literature (800 words)
  • Research design: sets out the research question and methodology for the study (1500 words)
  • Findings & discussion: presents the findings, analyses the results, and discusses policy and practice implications (2,400 words)
  • Conclusions & recommendations: offers concluding remarks and next steps for consideration (800 words)
  • Alongside the report, the expectation is that the datasets must be made publicly available at the end of the grant period.

Alongside the final report, we would hope that the research teams will be able to offer:

  • At least one BERA blogpost on the research findings.
  • A presentation at the BERA Conference in 2025 or 2026.
  • There may also be a bespoke event (likely a webinar) on the subject of the completed research which the researcher/s will be expected to attend.

Eligible project costs

  • Researcher labour costs and administrative costs for staff working directly on the project, including permanent and contracted staff. Total number of working days for each staff member should be listed.
  • School labour costs, specifically to backfill staff time taken up by the project.
  • Training costs, where training is specific and necessary to the project.
  • Project materials costs
  • Licensing costs for technology required for delivery of the project.
  • Travel and subsistence costs.
  • Office supplies, stationery, printing.
  • Overheads up to 20% of costs.
  • Registration at BERA Conferences.
  • BERA Membership for members of the project team (the PI is expected to be a member for the duration of the project).

As standard, you should not make profit from the grant you receive. If you do make any profit during the project that relates to grant funds, you are required to pay this back.

Copy editing and publishing costs will be borne by BERA beyond the value of the grant.

Further costs relating to the dissemination of the research findings will need to be covered by the research group.

Successful applicants will receive an award letter, which will act as a contract between the Association, the grant holder and (where appropriate) their Higher Education Institute (HEI). The award letter and any subsequent agreement will need to be signed by both the grant applicant and the higher education institution (HEI). Normally payment will be made in three stages: 40% upon signing of the award letter, 30% upon submission of the interim report and 30% upon submission and acceptance of the final report. Our preference is to make these payments upon invoice from a host institution. While that institution could be different for different instalments, we are unable to process multiple invoices for each instalment.

BERA reserves the right not to award a grant if insufficient quality proposals are submitted.