CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Report urges action on inclusive education and end to tunnel vision
The drive for a more inclusive education service at 16 plus is presenting colleges and other learning providers with tough challenges. New equality and diversity measures for further education include targets for recruitment, retention and achievement – all aimed at groups and individuals who have had little involvement in education since leaving school. Beyond Prejudice: Inclusive Learning in Practice, published by the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA), highlights the need to address these issues more vigorously. Despite evidence that strides have been made in recent years, it says, “the learning and skills sector is still failing pockets of individuals”. The report states that “gender blindness” is segmenting male students on to courses such as construction or engineering and females on to courses such as hairdressing or care. Organizational structures are also inadvertently creating education “ghettos”. Also, inspection reports have identified the tendency to focus on the needs of brighter 16-year-olds at the expense of the more vulnerable, such as adults and young people with disabilities or learning difficulties.
The report offers guidance to teachers, trainers and managers on how to ensure that all individuals of different abilities, genders and ethnic backgrounds receive an education that meets their needs. It focuses not only on under-achievers, but also on how to stretch the most able students. A key message is that providing inclusive education is not an option: it is a legal requirement. But it is vital that education and training providers do not simply comply with the law – they need to go the extra mile.
Anne Armstrong, executive manager, quality-improvement programmes, said: “There is a huge challenge to make sure that inclusive education becomes part of daily practice. There are very clear directives from the Government that educational organizations must demonstrate that they are actively seeking not only to recruit more people from under-represented groups, but also ensuring that the needs of individual students are fully met and that they are not guilty of tunnel vision. But compliance with the law should be seen as the starting point, not the ultimate aim. This publication provides invaluable guidance on how to push this agenda forward.”
The report includes recommendations and models of good practice, based largely on the findings of action-research projects, managed by LSDA’s quality-improvement programme, carried out within colleges during 2003 and 2004. The projects are grouped according to gender, ethnicity, disabilities, learning difficulties and gifted learners.
The projects include:
a specialist learning programme for people with autistic-spectrum disorder that involved changes to the physical environment, special teaching methods and new ways of recording learners’ progress (Huddersfield Technical College);
a project marketing learning to people from the hearing-impaired community in Leeds (the Swarthmore Centre);
“super tutorials” and one-to-one sessions, aimed at students with a poor retention record (Havant College);
a campaign aimed at recruiting women on to male-dominated courses, such as information and communication technology (Long Road Sixth Form College);
a campaign to encourage more men from a former mining community to get involved in learning (Dukeries College); and
an enrichment programme for gifted students (Hills Road Sixth Form College).
Beyond Prejudice: Inclusive Learning in Practice, by Vikki Smith and Anne Armstrong, is available from: Information Services, LSDA, Regent Arcade House, 19-25 Argyll Street, London W1F 7LS.