29 March 2007

On Inclusive Learning

Yes, I know the connection between the title and the link is not self-evident, but the link is the source for most of the nonsense I have just been struggling with.

New readers start here: sexy but politically correct Svetlana Ukridge (a.k.a SVUK), daughter of crusty Llywellyn Ukridge (a.k.a. LLUK) is .... Sorry! There are new regulations afoot, from the aforesaid LLUK, governing teacher training for post-16 education in the UK (now known as the "Learning and Skills Sector"*) These have to be incorporated, at vast effort but no benefit, into existing teacher education** programmes, for the next academic year. Like every other university offering such programmes, mine is currently struggling to accommodate the new regulations and retain at the same time to retain some vestige of academic integrity.
* "Learning and Skills Sector"? Learning is a process; skills are achieved capacities to perform (albeit always improvable). How do they constitute a "sector"? OK, it means a part of the education system. But (assuming that one can thus yoke together such disparate concepts—sorry! Can't remember the right phrase; Helen Gardner on the metaphysical poets? If anyone reads this, please put me right.) but, what part of education is not about "learning and skills"?

** they think (as their "guidance" eloquently testifies) that one can "train" teachers. We know that trained teachers are useless, whereas educated ones...
The "guidance" notes are obsessed with "inclusive learning". I thought—naively—that I had escaped fatuous political correctness when I escaped from the gulag of social work education. Not so.

There is a whole unit called; "Curriculum development for inclusive practice". There are so-called "assessment criteria" like;
'Explain ways in which theories and principles of learning and communication can be applied to promote inclusive practice.

'Analyse how theories, principles and models of inclusive curriculum design and development are used to inform own practice and the provision in own specialist area.
I'm not sure what these actually mean; I certainly do not know what would count as satisfactory evidence for their achievement, but beyond that...

What does "inclusive learning" mean? The phrase originates from the Tomlinson Report of 1996 (for which I have great respect);
'By "inclusive learning", therefore, we mean the greatest degree of match or fit between the individual learners' requirements and the provision that is made for them.'
OK. Remember that the report was specifically about students with learning difficulties and disabilities. It proposed that in contrast to the usual approach, of defining the course according to the requirements of the subject and the level, and then providing support to help students with disabilities could attain that level; the "inclusive curriculum" should be designed around the "individual learners' requirements".

That is fair enough, in the "special needs" area. But most students in PCE do not have "special" needs in that sense. This is the politically-correct tail wagging the dog, and to elevate it into the major principle underpinning the education of all future teachers in the post-16 sector is stupid.
  • either it brings the teacher education process into disrepute (the more likely and less damaging result) or
  • heaven help us—people may believe it! What will that do to our confidence in our plumbers, chefs, care staff... ?


  1. Anonymous1:17 pm

    Hi JAmes

    Struggling through an essay about inclusivm for the wretched PCET course and came across your blog. I actually come to your site whenevr I have to do these wretched essays as your explanations fill in the huge gaps in the information that is given to us by tye university. I wish I could use your comments about the new inclusivity rules but not sure that would help me pass and that is the object of the exercise ---get through this course and get back to what I can do and that is teach singing.

  2. Anonymous7:56 pm

    Im slowly being driven mad on PCET as well, i loved reading this as my lecturer regularly rams inclusive learning down our throats and we find it as ridiculous a concept in day to day teaching as im sure qualified teachers do.

    Id love to be able to attack the usage of the term and how it has become a noose around many of our necks, but sadly the best i can do is smile, nod, pretend it means something to me and forget it once ive finished the course. Luckily thats next week.

    Keep up the good work!


Comments welcome, but I am afraid I have had to turn moderation back on, because of inappropriate use. Even so, I shall process them as soon as I can.