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Unit information: How Schools Can Respond to Diversity and to Pupils' Special Needs in 2018/19

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Unit name How Schools Can Respond to Diversity and to Pupils' Special Needs
Unit code EDUCM5603
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Keri Facer
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


A key challenge facing teachers in the developing field of inclusive education is how to respond to the multiplicity of pupils' learning needs and interests. This unit explores classroom- and school-related factors (including teachers' attitudes) that promote inclusive education for vulnerable pupils and those with special educational needs. An emerging finding in the literature is that there is a close link between inclusive education and school improvement. There will be opportunities to explore this association, together with an examination of various teaching strategies that support inclusion. A number of frameworks have been designed to provide schools with feedback on aspects of inclusive practice and opportunities will be provided to explore the use of such approaches. Teamwork in between teachers and teaching assistants is becoming an increasingly important topic - this unit will review factors associated with more effective inclusive practice. It will also explore the current emphasis on multi-agency collaboration and its impact on the development of inclusive approaches in schools.


This unit will provide students with knowledge of key, school-related factors that are associated with more effective inclusive education. Such factors will relate to classroom practice, teaching approaches and teacher attitudes, as well as to factors at the level of school organisation and management, and the link between inclusion and raising pupils’ achievement. During the unit, students will be presented with different models of inclusive practice, and will be asked to evaluate the extent to which differing pedagogic approaches reflect the principles embedded within such frameworks.

An important aim of this unit will be to present a critical review of a wide range of approaches and frameworks in order that students make links between the approaches studied and particular provisions, schools or contexts with which students are familiar.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will be able to:

  • Show understanding the association between teachers’ attitudes and the development of inclusive practice
  • Evaluate which factors underpin effective teamwork and pedagogy for pupils with special needs and other vulnerable groups
  • Interrogate the role of inter-agency collaboration in relation to the development of inclusive practices in schools
  • Apply their understanding of a range of approaches and frameworks to a specific context with which they are familiar (school/provision/unit)

Teaching details

A variety of teaching strategies will be used to deliver this unit, which may include whole group lectures, visiting speakers, case studies, critical analysis of key readings, video presentations, group discussions and student presentations.

The needs of a wide range of students, including those with disabilities, international students and those from ethnic minority backgrounds have been considered. It is not anticipated that the teaching and assessment methods used will cause disadvantage to any student taking the unit. The Graduate School of Education is happy to address individual support requests as necessary.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment will be provided by group tutorials during which students will give presentations on the proposed structure, core models/frameworks and key readings of their chosen focus for the written assessment task, and during which students will receive feedback from other participants and the unit tutor on these three aspects.

For the summative task - a written assignment of 4,000 words - students may choose one of the following:

An essay that provides a critical analysis of inclusive education frameworks and that indicates understanding of how key factors impact on the development of inclusive education such as links between teachers’ attitudes and professional practice.

An evaluation of an inclusive education initiative in a specific context with which the student has had direct experience, using the background policy and research literature on topics such as multi-agency collaboration to discuss the strengths and limitations of the work presented.

A portfolio of professional practice relating to students’ own current work in the field of inclusive education (e.g. accounts of where, why and how this work was instigated) with suggested coverage of pedagogical and teamwork aspects. Students will be expected to use their knowledge of the literature and their understanding developed during the unit to interrogate the strengths and limitations of this work.

An alternative assignment on inclusive education, individually negotiated with the unit tutor.

Reading and References

  • Ainscow, M. and West, M. (2006) Improving Urban Schools: Leadership and Collaboration. McGraw-Hill Education.
  • Campbell, C. (ed) (2002) Developing Inclusive Schooling: Perspectives ,Policies and Practices. London: Institute of Education.
  • Carnell, E. and Lodge, C. (2002) Supporting Effective Learning. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.
  • Frederickson, N. and Cline, T. (2002) Special Educational Needs, Inclusion and Diversity: A Textbook. Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • Lewis, A. and Norwich, B. (2005) Special Teaching for Special Children: Pedagogies for Inclusion. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Skidmore, D. (2004) Inclusion: The Dynamic of School Development. Maidenhead: Open University Press.