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Unit information: Controversial Issues in Special and Inclusive Education in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Controversial Issues in Special and Inclusive Education
Unit code EDUCM5601
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Kikabhai
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

  1. Critically analyse published work within the field of inclusive and special education
  2. Demonstrate their understanding that theoretical approaches and practices are significantly affected by given cultural, social, economic and political contexts
  3. Evaluate the impact of raising standards on inclusion (and vice versa)
  4. Critically analyse debates about the advantages/disadvantages of ‘full’ inclusion
  5. Identify features of high quality educational support for pupils with additional needs
  6. Demonstrate awareness of current debates concerning the assessment and intervention for pupils with special educational needs
  7. 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.

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, students are required to complete:

  • A 1000-word equivalent poster that summarises the controversial issues in the inclusion of a group of children and young people with a particular SEND. A selection of articles will be provided by the tutors for the students to choose and they will be representative of a particular model of disability (social, medical, educational). Students will be expected to base their poster on the critical analysis of two articles. 30% ILOs 1-7
  • A 2500-word essay that will build on the poster and further discuss controversial issues in the inclusion of this particular group of children the poster was focused on. 70% ILOs 1-7

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