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Unit information: Education, Schooling and Diversity in 2018/19

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Unit name Education, Schooling and Diversity
Unit code SPOL20037
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Debbie Watson
Open unit status Open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will consider the diverse and often competing purposes of education and the relationship between discourses of education and formal schooling. We will take a critical and post-structural perspective on contemporary education in England and consider the nature of formal schooling that has evolved since the advent of the social welfare state and the impact of politics and ideologies on these. Underpinning this unit will be a consideration of the diversity of learners and learning contexts and we will address some of the complexities of gender, culture, ethnicity, ability and special educational needs in classrooms and the role that education can play in combating societal inequalities. Through assessment we will encourage critical reflection on students own learning processes.


  • To have a broad understanding of the English education system;
  • Understand that curriculum developments are never value neutral and that political will and ideological commitments always impinge upon decisions related to education and schooling;
  • To understand the diversity of learners and some of the complex issues faced by teachers and educators in responding to this;
  • To consider the origins of formal knowledge and the diverse forms that knowledge can take;
  • To challenge the simplistic assumptions often made about the relationship between knowledge and learning;
  • To be critical of assessment processes and understand the limitations of these in providing information related to learning and achievement;
  • To have a broad understanding of the variety of schooling provisions and the philosophies that underpin these;
  • To have an understanding of the role of museums, hands-on science exploratory’s and natural environments in children’s learning;
  • To relate constructions of childhood and children to educational processes; critique specific curricula developments that aim to broaden the formal curriculum and give attention to emotional health and well-being in schools.

Intended learning outcomes

Having studied this unit students should be able to:

  • Account for the importance of reflection in the learning process
  • Theorise their own learning reflections
  • Keep a reflective learning journal
  • Discuss academic papers with their peers and academic staff
  • Critique learning provisions made in a museum / art gallery / zoo / science exploratory provision for a certain group of learners
  • Convey the importance of hands on and experiential learning in the teaching and learning process

Teaching details

Lectures, seminars

Assessment Details

Formative assessment:

Group presentation of a learning resource developed from the field trip; Ongoing reflective journal on learning experiences.

Summative assessment:

Theorised learning biography (3,000 words).

Reading and References

  • Blundell, D. (2012) Education and Constructions of Childhood, Contiuum.
  • Cole, M. (2006) Education, Equality and Human Rights, Taylor and Francis Ltd.
  • Freire, P. (2005) (New Ed.) Education for Critical Consciousness, Continuum International Publishing Group.
  • Illeris, K. (2009) Contemporary Theories of Learning, Routledge.
  • Illeris, K. (2007) How we Learn, Routledge.
  • Race, R. (2011) Multiculturalism and Education, Continuum.
  • Tait, G. (2017) Schooling & Society: myths of mass education, Cambridge Press
  • Thomas, G. & Loxley, A. (2007) Deconstructing Special Education and Constructing Inclusion, OUP