Written by Chris Ross, Inclusive Learning and Teaching Officer
Inclusive Education is not a new concept. Indeed, extensive literature is evident discussing the merits and virtues of teaching in an inclusive manner. The concept of Inclusive Practices is a wheel, which does not require to be re-invented or re-constructed. An impetus has gathered some momentum in recent times. Some of the salient reasons for the drive for Inclusive Education are:
- Increased targets for international student recruitment
- BME student attainment gap
- ’Why is my curriculum white’
- student liberation campaign
- Student union representatives’ platforms e.g. on LGBTQ+ issues
- Widening participation initiatives
- Reduction in Disabled Students’ Allowance
All of which, contribute to the necessity for re-shaping our teaching delivery and interaction with our students, to ensure that their learning experience is as positive as we can make it. However, there are some key barriers that hinder implementation of Inclusive Education:
- Leadership from the top
- A focus on this area of development in the face of competing priorities
- A realisation that culture change is at the root of this methodology.
- Engagement with the concept across the University, for example in Professional Services as well as in the classroom
- The initial resourcing and project planning to engage in change across the institute.
- The time to enact change and the embedding of ways to measure success
- An appreciation that beyond the ‘quick fix’, there is a long process of sustained engagement with this concept.
- Support to engage staff across the university.
In January 2017, the Department For Education produced some guidelines, which are intended to support HEI’s in the quest for Inclusive Practices.
Here at King’s, we have taken a number of actions to advance the Inclusive Practices drive. These include:
- Resources on KCL internal website
- Alignment with KLI’s College-wide Changing Classrooms initiatives (education enhancement)
- Alignment with KCL’s engagement with TEF and the 2029 Vision
- Central Inclusive Education CPD packages plus bespoke training for departments
- Supporting Faculty Inclusion strategies
- Support with strategy and policy composition
A lot of guidance and resources can be found on the Inclusive Teaching portal, one of which is the Inclusive Teaching tool-kit which can be accessed via KEATS here. This device can be used to measure a practitioner’s inclusivity.
It is important to remember, that we cannot become Inclusive Practitioners overnight. A lot of time, thought and development is required with this process and its ongoing nature can inspire creativity and opportunities for new experiences.
Here are some quick tips to help with this development:
1. Housing all teaching materials on the virtual learning environment.
2. Improve the accessibility of all materials (For example MS Office accessibility checker).
3. Ensure reading lists are focussed, representative and up to date.
4. Facilitate the recording of teaching sessions.
5. The pre-selection of diverse learning groups.
6. Diversify the range of learning opportunities, approaches and assessment methods.
7. Regarding students as learning partners.
8. Seeking support and training on CPD opportunities.