University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Programme in Inclusive Education
What were the main aims of the initiative?
The Inclusive Education programme at the University of Edinburgh is a new post-graduate course for MSc, diploma or certificate level awards. The programme builds on research that explores how teachers’ pedagogy can enable inclusion and promote equitable educational outcomes. Courses explore the complex relationship between the rights based principles of inclusive education and the challenges of practice. Specialist pathways focussing on working with visually impaired, deaf or bilingual learners are also available. The programme is taken by full-time students, many of whom represent international interest in this field, and part-time students, many of whom are practising teachers.
The aim of the Inclusive Education programme is for students to learn about the development of inclusive education systems, and examine the international evidence base that informs current understandings of how and why inclusive education can and should be possible. The programme is designed to provide academic development at a postgraduate level for teachers, and other educationalists as well as those in related professions. The core content of the programme draws from the disciplines of education, sociology, disability and childhood studies to enhance knowledge and understanding of the issues related to inclusion.
The main programme aims are to:
The programme is rooted in the concept of inclusive pedagogy, an approach to teaching and learning that supports teachers to respond to individual differences between learners but avoids the marginalisation that can occur when some children and young people are treated differently to others. As such, the educational aims of the programme are:
Location, setting, Scope, key events etc.
The MSc Inclusive Education at the University of Edinburgh can be undertaken as part of a Certificate or Diploma in Inclusive education. The courses that form the programme are also available to all Masters level students across the University. While it is anticipated that many students will be qualified teachers, this is not a pre-requisite. For example, some students come with scholarships from their government with an interest in policy development; some students wish to develop their professional expertise as part of career progression.
Part-time students on the programme who are also teaching in schools are given the opportunity to reflect on their own practice, as well as consider that of others. Full-time students on the programme are provided with the opportunity to study practice in a range of settings, as well as re-consider practice they may be familiar with in other contexts.
What issues/challenges does the example address?
Our approach to inclusive education is based on the concept of inclusive pedagogy, which locates the complexity and relational nature of the concept difference, often expressed in terms of ‘additional needs,’ within the broader discourse and foundation disciplines of education. It acknowledges differences between learners but seeks responses to those differences in ways that do not reproduce exclusion or marginalisation based on difference.
For example, as a core course on the programme, Inclusive Pedagogy builds on research (Florian & Black-Hawkins, 2011; Florian & Linklater, 2010; Linklater, 2010; Florian & Spratt, 2013; Hart et al., 2004) that articulates and explores the implications of a distinctive theoretical stance:
This principled pedagogical approach has the capacity to make a significant contribution to teachers’ professional development because of the ways that it supports teachers’ engagement in thinking about all children’s inclusion in opportunities to learn.
Particular attention is given to identifying how to critically engage with evidence of practice in ways that reveal how practice might inadvertently (as well as intentionally) stigmatise or marginalise diverse groups of young people. This knowledge and understanding provides the foundational knowledge of context necessary for the exploration of relevant practical and political pedagogical realities such as: the phenomena of the widening attainment gap; the correlation between poverty and underachievement; how schools identify and support children recognised as having additional support needs; the need for specialist expertise, and how to access it. Students on the course consider issues relevant to school curricula and assessment, as well as functional and strategic methods for inclusive pedagogy.
Through a range of taught workshops, self-study and reflection on professional practice (including visiting a range of settings) students:
How was the Initiative implemented?
Commencing in September 2016, the Inclusive Education programme will explore the key issues of inclusive pedagogy alongside the key challenges for teachers and structures of schooling. The overall programme reflects:
Building on the strong foundations of particular professional specialisms at Moray House School of Education, the programme is taught by staff who are actively researching many aspects of inclusive education. The team has experience of working and researching in ordinary classrooms with a very wide range of learners, and of evaluating the impact on pupil and staff attitudes. They have also worked with a range of technological and educational resources and approaches.
What where the key Outcomes? What impact/added value did they prove? What were the biggest challenges?
Although there are different pathways through the programme, the majority of students choose from a wide range of courses to develop their understanding and critique of inclusive pedagogy. Depending on the routes and courses taken by students, outcomes will vary. Each course specifies the expected outcomes.
On completion of the course, Inclusive Pedagogy students will be able to:
Has the initiative been evaluated or are there plans for this in the future?
This is a new course commencing in October 2016. It will be evaluated in line with the requirements of the University of Edinburgh programme review process.
In addition, it is anticipated that the course will serve as an important site for our on-going programme of research that will further our understanding of how to prepare teachers for inclusive education with a particular emphasis on the development of pedagogical practices intended to mitigate educational inequalities and understand how teachers develop and enact professional agency. Current projects included in this programme of research include:
1. Teacher Education for the Changing Demographics of Schooling: policy, practice and research (Lani Florian and Nataša Pantić )
This ESRC seminar series critically examines why so many teachers feel unprepared for the diversity challenges of today’s schools and considers the role that teacher education might play in addressing this problem.
2. Achievement and inclusion in schools
Lani Florian, Kristine Black-Hawkins, and Martyn Rouse
This project replicates and updates earlier research (2007) that involved case studies of primary and secondary schools to explore whether high levels of inclusion were compatible with high levels of achievement. Results show how combining the two is not only possible but essential if all children are to have the opportunity to participate fully in education.
3. Inclusive pedagogy: reducing inequalities by reimagining education for all
Holly Linklater and Lani Florian
The main focus of this study is to explore the potential of an inclusive pedagogical approach as an intervention, based on research findings from previous studies and evaluate the process of implementation to inform the design of future research.
Have any plans been made for future direction of the initiative?
Consultation with the General Teaching Council for Scotland has been undertaken to ensure that the course is developed in ways that support and promote the standards for professional development of all teachers.
The MSc Inclusive Education, and the course Inclusive Pedagogy are aligned with the Scottish Teacher Education Committee (STEC) Framework for Inclusion (http://www.frameworkforinclusion.org/NEW/). This Framework links the values and beliefs, knowledge and understanding and skills and abilities to promote inclusive education to the teaching standards established by the General Teaching Council Scotland. The Framework provides a useful guide to course development and enhances opportunities for teacher education and continuing professional development in building capacity to work in ways that are inclusive of all learners.
Our on-going research programme complements and informs the teaching of courses that are part of the programme.
What are the main learning points?
Are there further information about supporting materials?
Florian, L (2015) Inclusive Pedagogy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeeDwzZwTj8
Inaugural Lecture for Bell Chair of Education; Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh
Florian & Black-Hawkins (2011) Exploring Inclusive Pedagogy, British Educational Research Journal, 37 (5) 813-828
Florian, L. & Linklater, H. (2010) Preparing teachers for inclusive education: using inclusive pedagogy to enhance teaching and learning for all Cambridge Journal of Education 40 (4) 369-386
Florian, L. & Spratt, J. (2013) Enacting inclusion: a framework for interrogating inclusive practice European Journal of Special Needs Education 28(2) 119-135
Hart, S., Dixon, A., Drummond, M.J. & McIntyre, D. (2004) Learning without Limits Buckinghamshire: Open University Press
Linklater, H. (2010) Making children count: an autoethnographic exploration of pedagogy PhD thesis. University of Aberdeen, Scotland.