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Unit information: Controversial Issues in Special and Inclusive Education in 2017/18

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Unit name Controversial Issues in Special and Inclusive Education
Unit code EDUCM5601
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Keri Facer
Open unit status Not open




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


The aim of unit is to critically review some of the controversial issues and perspectives in key areas within special and inclusive education. The content of the unit, therefore, covers issues ranging from perspectives against 'full' inclusion, inclusion and raising standards, inclusion and educational support, inclusion and educational legislation, inclusion and educational practice, inclusion and 'marginalised groups', inclusion and identification/assessment, intervention and educational placement of range of pupils with special educational needs [such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia and emotional, behavioural and social difficulties (EBSD)]. The common theme that interrelates each topic that will be covered in the unit is that they all address recent theory, practice and research outcomes that shed a light on complex issues and as a result challenge the way in which practitioners/professionals, service providers, researchers and academics think and perceive such issues.


The aim of this unit is to critically review some of the controversial issues in the field of special and inclusive education. The content therefore covers a wide range of topics that are relevant to stimulate critical thinking skills for participants to analyse and evaluate recent controversial issues and developments and their implications on education of all children. The unifying theme that links the topics covered on the unit is that they each address recent theory and research and throw light on the complexities of the issues and, therefore, challenge the thinking. The unit aims to raise awareness that one size does not fit all and, therefore, stimulates flexible, open and creative way of thinking among participants.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Critically analyse debates about the advantages/disadvantages of ‘full’ inclusion
  • Evaluate the impact of raising standards on inclusion (and vice versa)
  • Identify features of high quality educational support for pupils with additional needs
  • Demonstrate their understanding that theoretical approaches and practices are significantly affected by given cultural, social, economic and political contexts
  • Demonstrate awareness of current debates concerning the assessment and intervention for pupils with special educational needs
  • Critically analyse published work within the field of inclusive and special education
  • Show their critical and analytical thinking skills in evaluating current intervention strategies for marginalized children and young people.

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, group discussions and student presentations.

The unit will enable students, who will be coming from a wide range of backgrounds, to share their knowledge and experience in the field via individual and/or group presentations including case studies.

The needs of students from wide range of backgrounds, 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 discussion during which different ‘camps’ will debate a range of controversial issues in the field. Tutor and participant feedback will contribute to students’ preparation for the summative task.

For the summative assessment task (4,000 words) students are required to complete an essay which they will be given range of topics in the field to choose.

An essay that provides a critical analysis of special and inclusive education frameworks and that indicates how key factors impact on the, such as, raising standards, .

An evaluation of range of controversial issues such as current assessment and intervention strategies for marginalized children and young people.

A portfolio of professional practice relating to participants’ own current work in the filed of special and inclusive education with suggested coverage of controversial issues such as application and evaluation of certain intervention strategies in their own professional context.

In addition, students will be provided with a choice of an alternative assignment in the field.

Reading and References

Ann Lewis & Brahm Norwich (Eds) (2005). Special Teaching for Special Children: A Pedagogy for Special Educational Needs Paperback: ISBN 0 335 21405 3.

Corbett, J. (2003). Supporting Inclusive education: A connective pedagogy. London: Routledge.

Frederickson, N. and Cline, T. (2002). Special educational Needs, Inclusion and Diversity: A Textbook. Open University Press: Buckingham

Hornby, G., Atkinson, M and Howard, J. (1997). Controversial Issues in Special Education. London: David Fulton Publishers. Sage, Rosemary (2004). A world of difference. Tackling inclusion in schools. London: SAGE