Inclusive pedagogy and practice at Oxford Brookes University
The following examples illustrate how Primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE), Education Studies and Education Studies: Special Educational Needs, Disability and Inclusion (SENDI) 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 understanding 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.
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 United Kingdom (UK), training future teachers and a variety of future professionals 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. This is done by drawing on links with locally-based charities and inclusive organisations. 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. These enable students to interrogate and explore ideas around the aims, purposes and practices of education, inclusion, ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs. They 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, including the development of new media and technologies;
- policy critique;
- global awareness;
- childhood and adolescence.
Additionally, students can now participate in an exciting and innovative three-year specialist Education Studies: Special Educational Needs/Disabilities and Inclusion degree, which is discussed in more detail in the implementation section below. A profile of a student undertaking the SENDI degree can be viewed here.
More information on these courses can be viewed in the additional materials section (video one).
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 about the success of inclusion in educational settings, particularly with regard to attainment and achievement, attendance and exclusion data. Inconsistencies in the identification of and support for pupils with ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs across 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 understanding from a variety of alternative perspectives, including:
- academic research;
- critical awareness of policy;
- recognising the importance of pupil;
- parent and carer voice;
- practitioner and professional experiences;
- partnership with a wide variety of schools and alternative educational settings.
Inclusive pedagogy and practice is at the core of work within the School of Education. It is therefore incorporated throughout all courses and as part of the wider strategic aims of Oxford Brookes University. Selected examples referred to in this document provide details of specific implementations in the BA Primary Teacher Education (PTE) and the new SENDI degree. A discussion of University activities, school-based inclusion placements that are organised for all beginning teachers (BA PTE and Post-Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)), partnerships with a range of educational settings and a range of professionals is included here for information. 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 (PTE)
First year compulsory modules focus more on general aspects of effective teaching, learning, pedagogy and practice and understanding notions of child development (see ‘This course in detail’ here). However, during the second and third years, specific modules focus on inclusive practice and have been included here as examples.
Understanding the inclusive classroom: Year 2, four 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 well-being;
- language and culture;
- the environment (indoors and outdoors);
- behaviour and motivation.
A content overview for this module is 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;
- 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. These include the use of ICT, media and technology as learning tools and approaches that exemplify effective pedagogy across a range of non-core subject areas.
The ‘behaviour and motivation’ module offers opportunities to critically explore conceptualisations of behaviour and specifically Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs and ‘challenging behaviour’. Throughout the module, students are encouraged to consider a broad range of theoretical perspectives in relation to why children and young people may engage in behaviours that ‘challenge’ in the specific contexts of schools. Current policy guidance, such as Behaviour and Discipline in Schools (DfE, 2016) and annual DFE exclusion statistics, are critically considered. Also considered are publications which raise concerns about the number of children and young people with ‘diverse’ and ‘additional learning needs’ being excluded from schools in the UK. These include the Children’s Commissioner reports and those of the House of Commons Select Committee. While the module offers no ‘top ten tips’ for understanding and responding to pupil behaviour, a broad range of often alternative theoretical perspectives are explored (Reid 2017 and 2018). These aim to provide a critical awareness of the complexity of ‘behaviour’, motivation and engagement in schools.
The BA 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 the Partnership Office. These inclusion placements take place in a variety of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ local special schools, Independent Special Schools (including a therapeutic residential school) or alternative educational provisions in and around Oxfordshire. A list of possible schools provides an example of the range of schools that support this placement.
The organisation of placements in local special schools and alternative educational provisions recognises previous and on-going research into the benefits and challenges of organising and supporting students prior to, during and after such placements (for example, Mintz, 2015; Nash and 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. This is done through spending time in local special schools and alternative educational provisions. Student feedback on their inclusion placement reveals a number of ways in which such experiences contribute positively to their continuing professional development.
Additionally, feedback from special schools and alternative educational provisions identifies 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).
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 by 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, communication difficulties and associated challenging behaviours;
- a video interview with a pupil who attended the special school as an example of pupil voice;
- an 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 website 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 schools’ websites 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 recognise and encourage positive pupil behaviours such as:
- enjoy the experience!
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 of the placement that students found:
- particularly positive in relation to their continuing professional development;
- 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);
- other marginalised and vulnerable pupils identified as ‘under-performing’ in national achievement/attainment statistics;
- those over-represented in other national data such as attendance, exclusion and NEET (Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training) figures.
A content overview for this module can be located in the additional resources section (see resource 5).
Throughout the module, students are encouraged to critically explore ‘inclusion’ in light of historical, philosophical, psychological and sociological perspectives. They are also encouraged to be able to recognise and develop appropriate strategies for supporting ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs in a variety settings.
The SENDI degree has been recently designed, developed and implemented to respond to local, national and international interests and developments. It provides opportunities for students to critically explore, in depth, the experiences of children and young people who may be particularly ‘vulnerable’ in society and can, therefore, find themselves ‘marginalised’ or ‘excluded’ from traditional educational settings.
As part of the SENDI degree, students have opportunities to develop extensive knowledge about ‘inclusive’ provision for children and young people:
- with a broad range of special educational needs/disabilities;
- who may be exposed to multiple risk factors that increase their likelihood of experiencing educational disadvantage. These include those explored by the Children’s Commissioner’s Report on Vulnerability (2017) and the Falling through the Gaps in Education report (2017).
Throughout the degree, students engage with a wide range of complex educational questions from a wide range of often alternative perspectives, while adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of SENDI. In studying the SENDI degree, students gain a solid foundation in their knowledge, understanding, criticality and skills in preparation for a broad range of rewarding careers, including:
- Various roles in Education, Health and Social Care
- Interventional support in schools such as Nurture Group and Forest School practitioners
- Youth advocacy work and mentorship
- Community Education Roles (art and culture-based learning)
- Adult Education
- Work with charitable/voluntary sector.
With additional postgraduate qualifications, students can also enter the following professions:
- Teaching (mainstream, special schools, alternative provision, residential schools)
- Educational psychology
- Social work
- Therapeutic work, such as occupational, speech and language, art and play therapy.
The SENDI degree also supports progression into post-graduate study, including Master’s in Education or Childhood, PhD study or a taught Educational Doctorate.
A variety of innovative modules were considered in the design, development and implementation of the SENDI degree. Resource 4 gives an overview of the degree structure and modules. The following brief descriptions have been selected with the aim of providing insight into the aims and content of some of the specific SENDI-focused modules.
Emotional Development and Attachment: Year 2, 12 two-hour sessions
Children and young people experience a multitude of emotional phases as they move from birth to adulthood. Understanding this process is crucial for professionals working with children and young people in a variety of settings, including schools, specialist provision and care settings.
This module aims to provide students with a detailed overview of both the typical phases of emotional development and the results when emotional development has been disrupted. Guidance on behaviour management is then couched in this understanding of emotional needs and their expression.
In addition, the module critically explores the research evidence from neuroscience regarding emotional development. A range of assessment instruments used to identify emotional and attachment needs across phases is critically evaluated.
Alternative Educational Provisions: Year 2, 12 two-hour sessions
Alternative educational provisions are recognised as those:
… arranged by local authorities for pupils who, because of exclusion, illness or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education; education arranged by schools for pupils on a fixed period exclusion; and pupils being directed by schools to off-site provision to improve their behaviour (DfE 2013).
This module critically explores the use of alternative educational provisions to support pupil learning both nationally and internationally.
The module aims to:
- develop knowledge and understanding in relation to a wide variety of alternative educational provisions;
- explore their use in a range of contexts;
- evaluate their impact on specific aspects of pupil learning, well-being, attendance and achievement.
Inclusion: Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND): Year 2, 12 two-hour 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. This is done by 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 is in the additional resources section (resource 5).
Inclusion: Diverse Perspectives: Year 3, 12 two-hour 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. It provides students with an opportunity to explore the ways in which various student groups who have been traditionally excluded from education can be included. It 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. It also encourages a critical exploration of a range of national and international models and practice relating to inclusion. A content overview for this module is in the additional resources section (resource 5).
Youth, Deviance and Discipline: Year 3, 12 two-hour sessions
This module explores the connected themes of youth, deviance and discipline, drawing on anthropological, sociological and historical perspectives. The aim of the module is to allow students to gain an understanding of processes of social and cultural reproduction, through the lens of youth culture and its association with deviance and the need for social control.
In lectures and seminars students explore why it is that young people are so often seen either as perpetrators of deviant or criminal behaviour, or as innocents in danger of being polluted by deviant influences in society. This will lead to a stronger understanding of the sociological and historical conditions that bring about everyday understanding of youth as a stage in the life course. The module also aims to provide students with skills for social analysis and the ability to articulate critical analyses of research evidence.
Drawing on a wide range of media texts and evidence from popular culture, students explore sociological and anthropological understandings of deviance and discipline. Students are encouraged to relate these themes to the social construction of youth as a category of the life course. A number of cross-cultural and historical examples where youth, deviance and discipline collide, often with colourful results, are also explored.
Educational Placement: Year 3, 12 two-hour sessions
This module aims to provide the opportunity for students to gain experience of working in an alternative educational provision. Students will be given a choice of alternative educational settings within the local area and will select their setting on the basis of individual interest. The module aims to build on previous modules which have explored theoretical aspects of inclusion and exclusion for pupils with diverse and additional learning needs. A wide range of placement settings will be available to choose from. Such settings will have been previously explored as part of the Alternative Educational Provision module.
Independent study options
An Independent Study module encourages SENDI students to engage in more practice-based experiences of exploring the educational experiences of children and young people with a broad range of SEND. Positive experiences of ‘inclusion’ can be explored from a variety of alternative perspectives, such as those of pupils, parents/carers, teachers and professionals. However, students may also continue to critically explore the educational experiences of children and young people who may be particularly ‘vulnerable’ in society and can, therefore, find themselves ‘marginalised’ or ‘excluded’ from traditional educational settings. This independent study module encourages project-based learning that is initiated by student interests and is supported by an academic tutor who acts as a supervisor.
An additional opportunity for placement experiences can be gained from undertaking the Independent Study: Work and Community-Related Learning module. The module aims to support student development in relation to their awareness and understanding of the world of work and their future employability. The module contributes to the student’s development of graduate attributes and employability skills by requiring them to reflect critically on learning gained from activities in work, community-related and extra-curricular settings. Specifically, the aims are that students will:
- benefit personally and academically from experiences in the work and community context;
- engage in self-directed learning with appropriate academic supervision and structured reflection;
- reflect critically on the learning and personal development gained from work-related or extra-curricular experience in relation to possible future professional roles and illustrate using specific examples.
All SENDI students undertake a compulsory Research Methods in Childhood and Education module. This module introduces students to research paradigms used within educational and social science research. Students have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with various research tools (interviewing, observation, questionnaires, etc.) and appropriate data analysis. Consideration is given to aspects of reliability, validity and ethical issues. A key focus of the module is to consider the particular complexities of research that arise when the research participants are children and/or infants. Students explore the practical and ethical issues of conducting research with children. SENDI students are encouraged to maintain a focus on research that is relevant to the experiences of pupils, parents/carers, teachers and professionals in relation to the ‘inclusive’ education of children and young people with a broad range of SEND.
Research Methods in Childhood and Education is a pre-requisite module for the Dissertation module. This module involves the in-depth study of a chosen problem, in terms of the methodologies of Education Studies, with an outcome of a dissertation of about 10,000 words. Students can focus on a particular area of choice which addresses one or more of the following aims:
- to explain the effects of cultural, societal, political, historical, economic and technological contexts on learning and provision;
- to demonstrate an understanding of formal and/or informal contexts for learning at a regional and/or national and/or global level;
- to evaluate the societal and organisational structures and purposes of educational systems and the possible implications for learners and the learning process;
- to discuss the underlying values and principles relevant to Education Studies
- to study the diversity of learners and the complexity of the interaction between learning and contexts, and the range of ways in which participants can influence the learning process.
In particular, this module addresses a key aim of the Education Studies programme: to develop intellectual independence and critical engagement with evidence in students. Again, SENDI students are encouraged to maintain a focus on research that is relevant to the experiences of pupils, parents/carers, teachers and professionals in relation to the ‘inclusive’ education of children and young people with a broad range of SEND.
Inclusion Placement experiences
As an example, six 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 reveals 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. They 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 students’ 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.
The SENDI degree: student testimonies
- I believe studying SENDI is important for enhancing an inclusive education system and to raise awareness of the strengths that people with SEND have. Unfortunately, there are a number of educators that, although can be well meaning, are poorly educated in these strengths and can have a tendency to focus on the weaknesses. As a result, they can end up excluding individuals with SEND which doesn’t allow them to strive in their education and their future. Through studying SENDI I hope to be able to increase awareness and in turn inclusion levels in education. Due to personal experience I choose to study SENDI. My brother has autism and although there have been some educators who have worked very hard to support him, there have unfortunately been some people who are less appreciating and have then led us to fight for his equality in education.
At Oxford Brookes University the SENDI course has an ‘Inclusion: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities’ module which I am currently doing. This is run by Jon Reid who is very experienced and passionate in this area. With my own experiences, and discussing Jon’s experiences, it allows us to see how inclusion and exclusion has changed in education. This particular module also challenges individual views on inclusion and what really is individual inclusion for everyone in education. In addition to this the university runs a ‘Children’s Outdoor Learning’ module. This is run by Nick who is particularly passionate about the benefits of the outdoors. Even though this module isn’t specifically focused on SENDI it gives us opportunities to see how activities can be adapted to make sure they are inclusive (Year 2 SENDI student).
- I chose to study the Education Studies – Special Education Needs, Disability and Inclusion (SENDI) degree, as I’m passionate about supporting individuals with special needs. I think it’s important that they reach their potential and that barriers to education can be removed. Everyone should have access to education regardless of age, gender, sexuality or disability.
The passion shown by the lecturers at the open day I attended impressed me. My interest sparked as I discovered that there were lots of pathways and opportunities open to me after graduation. I'm working to become an Early Years teacher with a SEN specialism.
The course provides me with the opportunity to explore different concepts of education. This includes the barriers which people face. I’m evaluating frameworks to provide an inclusive education system. After the compulsory modules, I have been able to choose areas to study that interest me (Year 2 SENDI student).
- The reason toward picking the SEND course to improve and support all students with extra need in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and for them to be included. Also, in United Arab Emirates we do not have SEND as a course in University, which means teachers lack having resources and knowledge to help include students with extra needs. I enjoy the most in this SEND course is having a wide variety of different courses to help me deeply understand inclusion and different types of disabilities that will help me in the future in UAE. As I want to change the education for children with extra needs in United Arab Emirates, I think the SEND course helps me gain a lot of knowledge and resources in my readings and essays to help me achieve the goal in changing education for the children that can and want to be included with the others. The reason for studying at Oxford Brookes is because the course covers wide range of classes in SEND and not only focusing in one area (Year 3 SENDI student).
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 the Partnership Office to further develop organisation of placements in local special schools, alternative provisions, mainstream schools with a specific base attached, or shadowing 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’ continuing professional development (CPD) needs post-placement and University sessions.
Action: To continue to respond flexibly to CPD needs by providing relevant opportunities through the Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development (Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT), NQT + 1, Practicing Professionals), such as the 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 with these teachers to learn more about their experiences post-OBU.
Action: To continue to 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 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.
Future developments at Oxford Brookes University relate to the continued development of inclusion experiences for beginning teachers through the Initial Teacher Education routes. These include 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 ‘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 will be considered for such placements.
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;
- collaboration with local mainstream schools, special schools, alternative settings, practitioners and local professionals, so that students can gain first-hand 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’. In this way, they will further develop the knowledge, skills and understanding to support the effective inclusion of pupils with ‘diverse’ and ‘additional’ learning needs within communities.
Jonathan David Reid (MSc.Oxon, PCTHE, PGDES, PGCE, BA. Hons, MBPsS, FHEA)
- Senior Lecturer in Child Development Special Educational Needs/Inclusion
- Joint Subject Co-ordinator for Education Studies
- Brookes Teaching Fellow
- ITE ‘Advocate for Behaviour’.
Oxford Brookes University
Harcourt Hill Campus