Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as a route to Excellence

The Department for Education have produced a new report ‘ Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as a route to Excellence’ The need for a report is partly due to cuts in funding for Universities’ support for disabled students. Now the education provider is expected to ensure that their provision is already inclusive. Funding will still be available for very severe impairment issues.

This might seem like a bad thing – more cuts – etc. However, the report makes it clear that they are embracing a very enlightened approach to disability. They include a section on the Social Model of Disability p.12 where they say:

“Increasing opportunities for disabled students requires us to consider the social model of disability. This emphasises that disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference and looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. When barriers are removed, disabled people can be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives. HE providers could embrace and adopt this approach as it supports and guides the ways in which pedagogy; curricula and assessment are designed and delivered to engage students in learning that is meaningful, relevant and accessible to all. It embraces a view of the individual and individual difference as the source of diversity that can enrich the lives and learning of others. This calls for a shift in thinking and focus to one which not only advocates the social model of disability but also promotes French and Swain’s (2000) affirmation model which views disability as a normal part of diversity and views it as a matter of pride and not personal tragedy.”

To read the full report go to:

London inner-city school adopts inspired strategies

The London Nautical School rejects exam focused schooling and chooses some radical strategies to engage pupils. In English and Science pupils can chose what to study, and which teacher to work with, from a range of proposals put forward by the teachers. It is interesting to note that in a book by John Bazalgette ‘School Life and Work Life’ published in 1978! similar suggestions were being made. The school has also rejected ‘setting’ – where pupils of different perceived ability are taught separately. To find out more about this and the results they are getting see this article from Aljazeera news

A Better School Inspection Regime?

Ofsted’s new Chief, Amanda Spielman, who used to be the head of Ofqual has just given her first interview. She talked about being aware of the huge pressure schools feel when Ofsted inspection time arrives. As a charity committed to holistic education, we would like Ofsted to improve in measuring how a school performs in all sorts of ways that are not just about the academic achievement – how is the school developing the social and emotional intelligence of the young person, how are they doing in building confidence and curiosity? Let’s watch this space…

Launch of Teaching Excellence Framework for Higher Education in England

2017 sees the launch of the Teaching Excellence Framework for Higher Education providers in England. Those who sign up by the end of this month will self-assess, and then be externally assessed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in relation to teaching quality, learning environment and student outcomes.

The Framework provides opportunities for students to play an active role in supporting excellent teaching and learning environments, but may well cause concerns for HE Institutions who know that they have little influence over future employment opportunities, which form a significant part of measuring their success.

There is considerable concern about the implementation of this amongst higher education providers, especially as those signing up will be given grades.

BBC: University lowers entry grades for disadvantaged

The University of Bristol is to offer places with lower grades to disadvantaged students in local schools. As you will read, teachers will make an assessment as to the competence and potential of the person, regardless of grades achieved. Dare we propose that this carries both risks and advantages: if teachers are not competent to assess the competence and potential of students, we have a major issue – as we know, the education of teachers in this country leaves much to be desired; on the other hand, this proposal from the University promises a move towards accepting the – to us – intuitive notion that grades does not tell us everything we need to know about the competence and potential of a person!

Read more here

UWE Graduation: MSc in Practical Skills Therapeutic Education

A huge congratulations to our students who are all now graduates of the MSc in Practical Skills Therapeutic Education (Integrated Professional Development), accredited by the University of the West of England, delivered by the Crossfields Institute faculty at the Ruskin Mill Trust Field Centre.

Despite the terrible weather provided by Storm Angus, a wonderful graduation ceremony was enjoyed last night at the Bristol Cathedral, for those who were able to attend.


No more Art History

It has been widely reported that it will no longer be possible to study “A” level Art History, the last awarding organisation has recently dropped it from their portfolio of qualifications. This is sad news, the study of the history of art is the study of the development of ideas and our cultural identity and could have a detrimental effect on thriving creative industries across the UK. What other rich and rewarding subjects are in danger of being lost to the students of today?

Some 839 students sat an A-level exam in the subject this summer, making it an expensive course for the board to maintain Getty

Playing with Fire?

Recent news reports have drawn attention to West Rise Junior, a primary school in Eastbourne, East Sussex which has the children spending time outdoors using knives, saws, open fires and even air-rifles.

Ofsted and the Health & Safety Executive approve, and achievement in English and Maths at the school have dramatically improved. Headteacher Mike Fairclough believes the children are challenging themselves and finding solutions together, developing resilience and confidence in the process. We see similarities with the Erasmus+ funded Diploma for 14-19 olds which Crossfields Institute is developing, which aims to develop creative thinking skills in a transdisciplinary curriculum. We believe that education is all about lighting fires, rather than filling empty pails!

Headteacher Mike Fairclough thinks schools – and parents – are failing children by over-protecting them instead of teaching them how to handle danger. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian