It’s springtime, let us shine: Marching on the mission for Inclusive Education

Written by Dr Vicky Mountford-Brown

In my first Director blog for EEUK, I wanted to focus on something that has been increasingly important to me, which is actively celebrated this month in the UK, that of inclusivity (particularly in education) and celebrating difference and diversity.  There’s a palpable momentum gaining around understanding the role and potential of (neuro)diversity in our education and workspaces in recent times, and this presents us with many opportunities. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to ruminate on the special significance of this for us as enterprise educators, and offer you all a cornucopia of ways you can learn more and get involved. The call to action, I believe, for all of us, is to innovate and create respectful and inclusive working and learning environments.

March represents a month of many celebrations of difference and diversity with International Women’s Day having already taken place this month on 8th March and a whole week of ‘Neurodiversity Celebration’ (18th – 24th March – see for a whole programme of free, accessible events throughout the week).  On a more local level for yours truly, the image you see here is from a north-east England based social enterprise, called Celebrate Difference, who actively support individuals and organisations to understand and support neurodiversity, and on 15th March launched their QbTesting facility, offering ADHD Screening assessments to 18-60 year olds. Having this as an option to consider for residents of the northeast, will be life changing for some, many of whom are stuck on a ’waiting list’ for assessment that can vary from months to several years (ADHD UK, 2023) and this alone, presents many pertinent issues for us all in the enterprise education community.

We know that adult diagnoses of neurodivergent conditions are on the rise – particularly autism spectrum condition (ASC) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); and also, that individuals often become aware of their neurodivergence through education. This means that many of the learners we are already working with are on an individual journey towards understanding and navigating their neurodivergence; some are beginning to make their own links, some are awaiting diagnosis. Put simply, in working primarily with adult learners in higher education, neurodivergence and inclusive education affects all of us – add the interesting significance of neurodivergence and entrepreneurship, and the situation for us as enterprise educators becomes even more compelling.

Many of you may have encountered the Charter for Inclusive Entrepreneurship which establishes core principles for supporting inclusivity across the entrepreneurship ecosystem and emphasises the role of lifelong learning in entrepreneurship education. Some of you may have even been lucky enough (as I was) to be at IEEC 2023 and attend Rob Edwards (check out: Neurodiversity & Entrepreneurship Association) and Dr Lorna Treanor’s ‘Best in Track’ session. This session not only stirred lively and engaged discussion (that could have easily gone on for hours!) around the important topic of Neurodiversity and Enterprise Education, but also (particularly welcome for me) put the emphasis on ‘how do we best allow our neurodivergent students to shine?’ To enable our students to shine requires greater understanding and innovation in our education (and work) spaces and work is underway to develop best practice guidelines to share across the sector – watch this space!

There’s an equally welcome and growing emphasis in the research emerging around neurodivergence and entrepreneurship (currently dominated by research from USA) that emphasises the ways in which neurodivergent entrepreneurs can indeed shine.  For example, Lanivich, Moore and McIntyre’s (2024) newly-published article positions the cognitive abilities of neurodivergent entrepreneurs as offering exponential potential for entrepreneurial alertness, adaptability and entrepreneurial intent, and therefore represents another study situating a strengths-based model of understanding neurodivergence, in the context of entrepreneurialism. Positive associations with entrepreneurial traits and behaviours and the entrepreneurial mindset (see Wiklund et al, 2018 and Moore et al, 2021) highlight that neurodivergent individuals often possess enhanced capacities and capabilities in the practice of entrepreneuring.  Part of enabling our neurodivergent students to shine may be through learning that entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial career pathways can offer neurodivergent individuals the means to thrive and create value. This strengths-based view of neurodivergence in entrepreneurial contexts is a compelling proposition for us as enterprise educators.

And yet the ‘us’ I refer to as our collective of enterprise educators is striking in the huge variety of roles, levels of responsibility and different drivers – and funding – that shape the numerous and complex myriad of expectations tied into our working lives.  This means that the ways we encounter neurodivergence in our everyday working experiences are equally complex. We may work primarily with students in various extra-/co- and in curriculum capacities, however some of us also work with staff (including researchers), that we manage, coach and support.  Some of us work in very academic, research-focussed roles, with others more focussed on practice and managing people.  Beyond the functions of our roles, we tend to be a thoroughly diverse bunch further still – we come from all walks of life, many coming from industry and entrepreneurship as ‘accidental academics’ (Wilkinson, 2020), typically with a huge variety of past study experiences and subject specialisms.

I strongly support the increasing interest in neurodivergence and learning and for creating inclusive learning environments, but it strikes me that there’s an important part of this conundrum that is at risk of being overlooked – us.  With this ‘us’, I refer to those of us in the network who identify as neurodivergent (or ‘neurospicy’ as a brilliant enterprise educator friend would say) ourselves.  There’s been a surge in interest in how we can create inclusive learning environments and all too often, our roles as educators exclude us from being recognised as learners too. I think there’s some risk here and I want to address that.  To do this, I’m asking for any ‘neurospicy’ enterprise educators who would like to meet and discuss their experiences and practices and explore the potential for developing a working/research group around the topic, to get in touch.  Particularly if you identify as neurodivergent, please hit this link, leave your details and I will be in touch!

One of the things I love about EEUK is the network. Having engaged in several sessions over the past few months including our Fast-Track Programme and more recently, earlier this month (5th March), I attended an EEUK (EERPF-funded) event focussing on Developing a Toolkit for the Sustainability Mindset, where I met numerous talented and inspiring individuals (some of whom identify as neurodivergent too) who really want to make a difference.  Some of our conversations showed that by learning from our diverse collective, we can future proof our resources and practices to make our educational interventions truly inclusive. Getting out to events across the network (be they online or in-person) is a healthy step towards finding/assembling your tribe – our collective is such a rich and diverse source of learning.   As British springtime begins to emerge, signalled by the month of March, it’s our time to shine and collectivise to create inclusive and meaningful enterprise education.

Next month, expect more on this theme from my fellow Director, Jennie Baptiste, who will be commenting upon Neurodiversity & Intersectionality.

Dr Vicky Mountford-Brown
Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship
Director of Enterprise Educators UK


ADHD UK (2023) ‘NHS Waiting List Report October 2023’

Lanivich, S.E., Moore, C. and McIntyre, N. (2024), “The effects of neurodiversity on cognitive attributes of entrepreneurs”, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research,

Moore, C., McIntyre, N., & Lanivich, S. (2021). ADHD-Related Neurodiversity and the Entrepreneurial Mindset. Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, 45 (1), 64-91.

Wilkinson, C. (2020) Imposter syndrome and the accidental academic: an autoethnographic account, International Journal for Academic Development, 25:4, 363-374, DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2020.1762087

Wiklund, J., Hatak, I., Patzelt, H. and Shepherd, D.A. (2018), “Mental disorders in the entrepreneurship context: when being different can be an advantage”, Academy of Management Perspectives, 32: 2, 182-206, doi: 10.5465/amp.2017.0063.