What were the main aims of the initiative?

The following examples illustrate how Primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Education Studies students are introduced to theoretical and practical ideas relating to Inclusive Pedagogy and Practice within the School of Education at Oxford Brookes University. These examples aim to develop the knowledge, skills and understandings of students by focusing specifically on the inclusive education of pupils with ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs. Module overviews are shared to demonstrate how students progress through their studies. Additionally, the organisation of student placements in a range of educational settings and involvement with local provisions, practitioners and professionals is discussed.


The main aim of this initiative is to encourage an interdisciplinary awareness of the importance of understanding inclusion and ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learner needs. This is achieved through developing the knowledge and skills of current and future professionals who recognise, support and advocate ‘inclusion’ in a wide range of educational and alternative settings.


Location, setting, Scope, key events etc.

The School of Education at Oxford Brookes University (OBU) is located in the diverse city of Oxford. OBU is one of the largest schools of education in the UK, training the teachers of the future from the early years through to the post-compulsory sector. OBU values long-term relationships with a wide variety of school and college partners and local communities. At foundation, undergraduate, master’s and doctoral level, the University works with locally based professionals to develop projects that matter to communities through drawing on links with locally based charities and inclusive organisations such as Adviza, Spurgeons, Family Links and Reading Quest. At all levels courses encourage students to reach out on a more global basis to gain a wider perspective of educational inclusion through understanding the importance of recognising ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs.

Alongside Initial Teacher Education there is a suite of undergraduate and master’s programmes that enable students to interrogate and explore ideas around the purposes and practices of education, inclusion, ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs. These include courses that allow students to critically reflect on a range of contemporary educational considerations including policy, pedagogy and practice in light of developments over time. The Education Studies Degree for example is developed around the foundational disciplines of History, Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology. Core themes underpinning this degree include academic research in education, educational changes in relation to the development of ICT, new media and technologies, policy critique, inclusion, global awareness and childhood. More information can be viewed in the additional materials section (video one and two).


What issues/challenges does the example address?

The term ‘inclusion’ is reflected through international, national and local policy initiatives both abroad and in the UK, however its successful implementation over time has appeared problematic at a number of levels. In recognising, supporting and promoting the importance of inclusion and an awareness of ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs, the School of Education adopts a critical perspective. This includes an awareness of National statistics in the UK which raise questions in relation to the success of inclusion in educational settings, particularly in light of attainment and achievement, attendance and exclusion data. Inconsistencies in the identification of and support for pupils with ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs across our schools are also discussed. Consequently, the complexity of inclusion is explored through examples of effectiveness and excellence within the local community and beyond and by developing understandings from a variety of alternative perspectives, including; academic research, critical awareness of policy, recognising the importance of pupil voice, practitioner and professional experiences and partnership with a wide variety of schools and alternative educational settings.



How was the Initiative implemented?

Inclusive pedagogy and practice is at the core of work within the School of Education and is therefore incorporated throughout all courses and as part of the wider strategic aims of OBU. Selected examples referred to here provide details of specific implementations in the Primary Teacher Education and the Education Studies degree courses. A discussion of University activities, school based inclusion placements that are organised for all beginning teachers (BA PTE and PGCE), partnerships with a range of educational settings and a range of professionals is included here for information. These developments pre-empted the recent Carter Review (2015) which made recommendations for Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in England. The module content described promotes consideration of a variety of understandings in relation to inclusion. Such theoretical understandings draw on and are underpinned by a range of interdisciplinary and alternative perspectives with the aim of increasing criticality in relation to understanding the complexity of inclusion.

At Undergraduate level:

BA Primary Teacher Education

While first year compulsory modules focus more on general aspects of effective teaching, learning, pedagogy and practice and understanding notions of child development, during the second and third years, specific modules focus on inclusive practice.

Understanding the inclusive classroom: Year 2: 4 sessions

This module explores inclusive pedagogy and practice by considering and recognising the importance of understanding the learning of all children. Students are encouraged to create rich learning opportunities so that every learner is able to participate fully in classroom life. Students rotate through four pathways: physical health and wellbeing, language and culture, the environment (indoors and outdoors) and behaviour and motivation. A content overview for this module can be located in the additional resources section (see resource 1).

During the year, four, one week placements are also arranged in a variety of alternative settings, which relate to each specific pathway. These include: an on campus fully inclusive physical education, competition and leadership experience, a primary school placement with a focus on children with English as an Additional Language (EAL) in mainstream school, a secondary school placement with a focus on pupil transition from Year 6 to Year 7 and a special school or alternative educational setting placement with a focus on observing, planning and teaching for inclusion.

The development of a positive classroom ethos through recognising and understanding behaviour in relation to effective teaching and learning is considered an important aspect of all pathways and placements. The module also considers a range of theoretical perspectives linked to effective practice including, the use of ICT, media and technology as learning tools·and approaches that exemplify effective pedagogy across a range of non-core subject areas.

Students taking part in an inclusive physical education lesson

Figure 1: Students taking part in an inclusive physical education lesson

The BA Primary Teacher Education (PTE) Year 2 Inclusion Placement

As part of the behaviour and motivation pathway (see additional resources section, resource 2), a week long inclusion placement is organised for all second year BA PTE students, with the support of our Partnership Office. These inclusion placements take place in a variety of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ local special schools or alternative Educational settings in and around Oxfordshire. A list of possible schools can be located here as an example of the range of schools that support this placement.

The organisation of placements in local special schools and alternative educational settings recognises previous and ongoing research into the benefits and challenges of organising and supporting students prior to, during and after such placements (see for example Mintz, 2015., Nash & Norwich, 2010., Norwich and Nash, 2011).

Support for students is provided during University based sessions before and after the placement. Importantly, while the inclusion placement is not assessed, students are encouraged to engage with a variety of ‘focused activities’ while on placement. Such activities aim to provide structured examples of tasks to complete. An overview of focused activities can be located in the support materials section (see resource 3).

The aim of the inclusion placement is to support beginning teachers to develop skills, knowledge and understanding in relation to working with pupils with ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs through spending time in local special schools and alternative educational settings. Student feedback in relation to their inclusion placement reveals a number of ways in which such experiences have contributed positively to their continuing professional development. Additionally, feedback from special schools and alternative educational settings identify further positive examples, such as future employability as revealed in the quotation below.

“Participating in the Inclusion Week helps to ensure that students get access to a wide range of examples of special school practice and an opportunity to ask questions related to special education more broadly. In contributing to this, we can seek to raise awareness of the needs of some of society's most vulnerable learners and how we can meet their needs in both mainstream and specialist provision. This in turn may draw to students’ attention alternative career paths that they have not previously considered. It is worth noting that we have appointed trainees from the Oxford Brookes University PGCE programme, as a result of the contribution we have made to Inclusion Week drawing attention to what we do. This is a vital opportunity for special schools given the challenges we have in recruiting people of a suitable quality.” (Special School Assistant Head Teacher. Knight, 2015).

Pre-Placement Support

Prior to going out on placement, a University based session provides opportunities for students to respond to the following key questions.

  • What aspects of the placement are you particularly looking forward to?
  • What do you hope to gain from the placement?
  • How will the placement contribute to your professional development?
  • What aspects of the placement are you particularly concerned about?

Such questions support interesting discussions through encouraging individual reflection in a group context. Additional aspects of this session include: a detailed case study of a special school which caters for pupils with complex learning needs and associated challenging behaviours, a video interview with a pupil who attended the special school as an example of pupil voice and overview of the focused activities to be completed while on placement.

Prior to going out on placement students are encouraged to visit their specific school’s web-site to learn more about the provision and the ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs of pupils attending their placement school. It is also recommended that policy documents available on the school’s web-sites are located and read prior to the placement. Students are encouraged to contact the school to ask about school expectations with regards to, for example, dress code and student participation in specific activities such as swimming or forest schools. During this initial contact, students are encouraged to be proactive and to arrange a meeting with a member of the Senior Leadership Team on arrival at the school. This meeting aims to provide an important induction to the placement school and enables students to discuss their responsibilities while on placement.

Finally, while on placement, students are encouraged to:

  • Be proactive
  • Ask questions
  • Interact with pupils formally and informally
    • Support pupils in their learning
    • Join pupils at break/lunch time
  • Find out about strategies employed to promote positive behaviour, self-discipline and respect
  • Find opportunities to reward pupil behaviour
    • Effort/ achievement/ learning/ behaviour
  • Enjoy the experience!

Post-placement follow up

Having returned from their inclusion placement, students participate in a post-placement follow up University based session. This session provides a second opportunity for individual reflection in a group context. Students are encouraged to write brief reflective responses to the following key questions:

  • What aspects of the placement did you particularly enjoy?
  • What aspects of the placement did you find particularly challenging?

These reflections form the basis of discussions during the session in addition to revisiting and exploring student responses to the focused activities undertaken while on placement.

Student evaluations of the inclusion placement during this session are then collected. Such feedback informs the organisation and development of future placements by identifying aspects that students found to be particularly positive in relation to their continuing professional development and aspects of the placement which they identified as being difficult or challenging.

Inclusion Pathway: Year 3: 18 sessions

The optional ‘Inclusive Pathway’ module develops skills, knowledge and understanding for teaching children recognised within the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice (2015), groups with protected characteristics who are included under the Equality Act (2010), and other marginalised and vulnerable pupils identified as ‘under-performing’ in national achievement/ attainment statistics and those over-represented in other national data such as attendance, exclusion, and NEET figures. A content overview for this module can be located in the additional resources section (see resource 4).

Throughout the module students are encouraged to critically explore ‘inclusion’ in light of historical, philosophical, psychological and sociological perspectives and to be able to recognise and develop appropriate strategies for supporting ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs in a variety settings.·

BA Education Studies

Inclusion: Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND): Year 2: 12 sessions

The Inclusion: SEND module explores the issues and challenges around inclusive provision for children and young people with special educational needs/disabilities.

The module aims to provide students with an understanding of the evolution of policy and practice relating to special educational needs/disabilities, ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs over time through developing an awareness of the legislative framework within which educational provision is made. The module analyses notions of discrimination and challenges students to think about their own attitudes and beliefs in relation to inclusion. A content overview for this module can be located in the additional resources section (see resource 4).

Inclusion: Diverse Perspectives: Year 3: 12 sessions

The Inclusion: Diverse Perspectives, as an Honours module is an extension to the Inclusion: SEND module. This module outlines a range of alternative perspectives on inclusive education and provides students with an opportunity to explore the ways in which various student groups who have been traditionally excluded from education can be included. The module explores the experiences of children who are marginalised or excluded and focuses on the impact of such experiences on the child and progression into adulthood and encourages a critical exploration of a range of national and international models and practice relating to inclusion. A content overview for this module can be located in the additional resources section (see resource 4).


What where the key Outcomes? What impact/added value did they prove? What were the biggest challenges?

As an example, three years of data has now been collected in relation to BA Primary Teacher Education evaluations of their ‘inclusion placements’. Data includes qualitative responses to specific open-ended questions. The analysis of end of module evaluations and written feedback reveal specific aspects of beginning teachers University and placement experiences that have supported their professional development. However such evaluations and feedback also encourage students to identify aspects of their University and placement experiences that were difficult or challenging and to provide critical feedback that identifies areas for improvement. The following selected examples of student feedback are included to illustrate how specific experiences while on placement lead to interesting discussions when students return. Such discussions encourage reflection on placement experiences which aim to identify aspects of the placement that have contributed positively to students learning and continuing professional development while recognising challenges that may be viewed as next steps in student’s professional development.

Examples of positive placement reflections:

  • The school felt like a community,
  • Feeling part of the school environment and being welcomed into the school,
  • Everyone was able to be themselves,
  • The staff knew about the children and really cared for their needs which was inspiring,
  • Getting to know the children and celebrating what they can do,
  • Building relationships with staff and pupils,
  • Children asking me for help and children teaching me how to communicate,
  • Having a chance to work with professionals that were so skilful in this area was great. I was able to pick up lots of little techniques that made a big difference.
  • Every day was interesting and provided new experiences.

Examples of placement experiences that were difficult or challenging:

  • Communicating with children in my class was sometimes difficult,
  • I found the placement quite emotionally challenging, perhaps because it was my first experience of a special school,
  • Understanding all the different types of need within my placement,
  • Not knowing what children are capable of,
  • Situations that were uncomfortable,
  • Unpredictable behaviour of some children,
  • Not having a detailed understanding of policy and procedures,
  • Traumatic life stories,
  • Getting children to believe in themselves,
  • Only having one week in the school.


Has the initiative been evaluated or are there plans for this in the future?

With regard to experiences and evaluations to date a number of challenges and areas for development have been identified which have encouraged the following proposed actions:

  • Challenge: The organisation of ‘inclusion’ placements for a large number of beginning teachers in recognition of the limited number of specials schools, alternative provisions and professionals in and around Oxfordshire
    Action: To continue to work closely with our Partnership Office to further develop our organisation of placements in our local special schools, alternative provisions, mainstream schools with a specific base attached, or shadowing a local professionals (Educational Therapists, Speech and Language/ Art/ Play Therapists etc.) in recognition of competition from other providers and the need to place large numbers of students.
  • Challenge: To respond to beginning teachers CPD needs post-placement and University sessions.
    Action: To continue to respond flexibly to CPD needs by providing relevant opportunities through our Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development (Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT), NQT + 1, Practicing Professionals) such as the forthcoming Perspectives on Behaviour Conference.
  • Challenge: To explore the impact of the ‘inclusion’ placements and University sessions on beginning teachers learning (confidence, skills, knowledge and understanding) and to follow up such teachers to learn more about their experiences post-OBU.
    Action: To continue engage in academic research into ‘inclusive pedagogy and practice’ within and beyond the University and to promote interest at Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Masters and Doctoral levels studying aspects of inclusion and exclusion of pupils with ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ needs.
  • Challenge: To increase opportunities for OBU students to experience inclusive pedagogy and practice within the wider community (mainstream, special schools, alternative settings and associated practitioners and professionals) to further develop their confidence, skills, knowledge and understanding of inclusion and to identify future employment opportunities and routes.
    Action: To continue to develop links with local/ national voluntary/ charitable organisations to support their work and to encourage students to participate in opportunities to broaden their understanding of inclusion through a practice or work based approaches.
  • Challenge: To respond to the local and national need to recruit and retain effective and highly trained practitioners and professionals for employment in a variety of educational or alternative settings which promote and support inclusion.
    Action: To continue to develop Primary Teacher Education and the Education Studies degree through the suggested course developments and programme revalidations described below.


Have any plans been made for future direction of the initiative?

In response to local, national and international interests and developments, further inclusion opportunities are being explored. One such development that has been proposed within our School of Education is to validate a named ‘Inclusive Pedagogy and Practice’ Education Studies Degree with a focus on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and diversity (in its broadest sense) at Undergraduate level. This will involve the development of a three year, 20 Module programme. Each module will specifically focus on aspects of inclusion. Additional developments relate to the continued development of inclusion experiences for our beginning teachers through our Initial Teacher Education routes such as the development of an assessed final placement for BA Primary Teacher Education students and PGCE students in a special school or alternative Educational setting. This will support a specific focus on ‘inclusive pedagogy and practice’ in recognition of ‘diverse’ and ‘additional learning needs’. Beginning teachers will, therefore, be able to complete their Initial Teacher Education in selected ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ (OfSTED, 2015) partnership special schools. Such extended placements will support beginning teachers specific interests, continue to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding, and, it is hoped, support special school recruitment and retention of our ‘outstanding’ beginning teachers. Interviews will take place prior to participation in such placements and previous placement grading’s in relation to the DfE Teachers Standards (2013) will be considered. Only those students working at ‘good’ or ‘high’ level would be considered for such placements.


What are the main learning points?

Supporting beginning teacher, practitioner, professional and academic knowledge and understanding in relation to the complexity of inclusion will continue to be important. To develop and increase the skills, knowledge and understanding of ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs requires engagement with previous and present inclusion debates. It is recognised that ‘inclusive pedagogy and practice’ are developed through:

  • Recognising a range of alternative perspectives in relation to ‘diverse’ and additional’ learning needs to encourage a critical awareness of contemporary dialogues in relation to inclusion and importantly
  • Collaboration with local mainstream schools, special schools, alternative settings, practitioners and local professionals so that students can gain first had experience of effective inclusive practice.

Educational institutions such as OBU, in collaboration with a range of local settings, practitioners, professionals and academics must continue to support, encourage and promote ‘inclusive pedagogy and practice’ to further develop the knowledge, skills and understanding to support the effective inclusion of pupils with ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs within our communities.


Are there further information about supporting materials?

Education Studies Undergraduate

Education Studies Virtual Open Week

Resource 1: Oxford Brookes University (2015) Understanding the Inclusive Classroom BAPTE Year 2

Resource 2: Reid (2015) BA PTE Year 2 Pathway Behaviour and Motivation Outline

Resource 3: Reid (2015) Special School Focused Activities for students to complete on placement

Resource 4: Reid (2015) Module Content and topic overviews



Adviza (2015) Independent Support: A national programme funded by the Department of Education via the Council for Disabled Children (CDC), as part of the recent Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Reforms and the implementation of the Children & Families Act 2014. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Carter, A (2015) Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training. DFE-00036-2015. London: Crown. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

DfE (2011) Teachers’ Standards: Guidance for School Leaders, School Staff and Governing Bodies. DFE-00066-2011. London. Department for Education. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

DfE (2015) Statistics at the DfE. London: Department for Education. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

DfE (2015) GCSE and equivalent attainment by pupil characteristics, 2013 to 2014 (Revised). Statistical First Release. London. Department for Education. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

DfE (2015) Pupil absence in schools in England: 2013 to 2014. London. Department for Education. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

DfE (2015) Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England: 2013 to 2014. London: Department for Education. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

DfE/ DoH (2015) Special Educational Needs and Disabilities code of Practice: 0 to 25 years. Statutory guidance for organisations which work with and support children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities. DFE-00205-2013. London. Crown. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Equality Act (2010) Legislation. Part 6: Education. London: Stationary Office. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Family Links (2015) A national charity dedicated to creating an emotionally healthy, resilient and responsible society. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Knight, S (2015) Special School Assistant Head Teacher: Inclusion Week quotation.

Mintz, J (2014) Towards a new Reality for Teacher Education for SEND: How can we best prepare teachers for working with children with special educational needs and disabilities so that they can achieve effective inclusion ? London: UCL Institute of Education Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Nash, T., & Norwich, B. (2010) The initial training of teachers to teach children with special educational needs: A national survey of English Post Graduate Certificate of Education programmes. Teaching and Teacher Education. Vol. 26. pp.1471-1480

Norwich, B., & Nash, T. (2011) Preparing teachers to teach children with special educational needs and disabilities: the significance of a national PGCE development and evaluation project for inclusive teacher education. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. Vol. 11, No. 1 pp. 2–11

Oxfordshire County Council (2015) Statistics about Oxford. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Oxfordshire County Council (2015) Special Schools and Resource Bases (Web Text). Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

OfSTED (2015) Changes to education inspection from September 2015 (Web Text). Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Oxford Brookes University (2015) About the School of Education (Web Text). Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Oxford Brookes University (2015) Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Doctoral Programme study information. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Oxford Brookes University (2015) Education Studies Single and Combined Honours course in detail and Module overviews. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Oxford Brookes University (2015) Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Oxford Brookes University (2015) Primary Teacher Education (Campus Based) course description.Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Oxford Brookes University (2015) Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development (Web Text). Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Oxford Brookes University (2015) Perspectives on Behaviour Conference information (Web Text). Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Oxford Brookes University (2015) School of Education Research Groups (Web Text). Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Reading Quest (2015) A teaching and training literacy and numeracy charity based in Oxford. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:

Oxford Brookes University (2015) Understanding the Inclusive Classroom BAPTE Year 2

Reid (2015) BA PTE Year 2 Pathway Behaviour and Motivation Outline

Reid (2015) Special School Focused Activities for students to complete on placement

Reid (2015) Module Content and topic overviews

Spurgeons (2015) Oxfordshire Young Carers: Support for children and young people whose lives are impacted by the responsibility of care for an adult or sibling. Accessed on: 07.12.15 At:


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Jonathan David Reid


Senior Lecturer in Child Development Special Educational Needs/ Inclusion, Joint Subject Coordinator for Education Studies, Brookes Teaching Fellow, ITE 'Advocate for Behaviour'·

Room F1.05, Oxford Brookes University, Harcourt Hill Campus, Oxford, OX2 9AT

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