Ally Owen, founder of Brixton Finishing School, has announced plans to launch a pilot neurodiverse course, focusing on creating opportunities for "different thinkers" within adland.
While neurodiverse students currently make up 15-20% of Brixton Finishing School’s intake, Owen told Campaign that these students would better reach their potential in a "tailored environment".
"I began to understand we were delivering the course in a way that better suited 'typicals' and felt we were doing an important part of our intake a disservice," she said.
"By creating a pilot that is focused on delivering learning and experiences in a way that's best suited to this talent segment, we hope to rectify this."
According to Owen, the pilot, which is set to launch in spring next year, will be an eight-week course focusing as much on preparing future employers as the talent themselves.
It will be launched in partnership with Creative Equals, marking the School's first joint venture with the diversity-driven organisation.
Initially, the course will be tailored towards 10-15 creatives with autism, with plans to expand this to other aspects of the neurodiverse community in the future.
Owen continued: "It's incredibly exciting and, as a 'non-expert' in this area, also daunting. So we are keen to build a 'launch alliance' of those who wish to help shape the project – those within this pool of talent, their allies, experts and those employers who wish to be involved in ensuring their businesses benefit from having all talents represented."
Data from Creative Equals’ Equality Standard found the ad industry has twice the number of neurodiverse people (individuals with dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia and autistic spectrum disorder, among others) compared with the standard population, making up 20-30% of senior leadership, creative, data science and account management departments.
Opened in 2018, Brixton Finishing School is a 12-week course in digital, advertising and marketing skills for groups underrepresented in the creative industries, including black, Asian and minority-ethnic people, working-class and female students, as well as the neurodiverse.
This year’s course has resulted in three full scholarships to London’s School of Communication Arts, one strategy internship at R/GA and a fellowship at the BBC.