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Unit information: Understanding and Challenging Social Barriers in 2015/16

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Unit name Understanding and Challenging Social Barriers
Unit code ACHSD0003
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Val Williams
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit seeks to establish an integrated social model for understanding the contexts in which children live, and will draw on a range of research projects carried out at Norah Fry Research Centre and elsewhere. Children develop in interaction with their own culture, their families, linguistic environment and social network, and have a multiplicity of identities. There are also barriers created by society which will tend to prevent children from reaching their potential. During this unit, there will be a chance to consider the particular issues for a range of children, in their social context. According to the Government Green Paper 'Every Child Matters', in 2003 there were between 300,000 and 400,000 'children in need' in England, about 2.8% of all children. About 13% of these are disabled, and 17% are from minority ethnic groups (about twice the proportion in the general population). This unit will consider generic issues to do with identity, individual and social development. It will then move on to consider how these impinge on particular groups, those with Autisitc Spectrum disorders, dyslexia and learning disabilities, and will consider how these issues impinge on professional practice in relation to families, transition and to establishing 'student centre' practice through accessible communication tools.


  • To equip students with current, relevant and practical knowledge of social models, and how these relate to identity issues.
  • To place this knowledge within an understanding of cultural, linguistic and social diversity.
  • To consider the topics of language development, literacy and learning in the light of the above knowledge, and to understand how differences in any of these may lead to social as well as educational barriers for the child (specifically, ASD, dyslexia, learning disability).
  • To promote an interest in the role of the EP in challenging social barriers, taking account of the issues of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality and social disadvantage.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will demonstrate a reflective understanding of how to approach issues of identity, diversity and classification. They will have developed a knowledge of social contexts and social models, as they apply to the development of language, learning and literacy. They will be able to apply this knowledge to their own practice in terms of interactions with families, students and professionals at key stages of the child’s career.

Teaching Information

Guided reading, lectures, tutorials. At least one of the sessions will include a co-tutor representing an EP client group. Placement will be organised within the programme as a whole to allow observation and reflection on the issues raised in the Unit.

Assessment Information

Completion of a 4000 word assignment, which will give evidence of understanding of issues of diversity and identity, and how these apply to at least one area of EP practice.

Reading and References

  • Craig, W. (2000) Childhood Social Development: The Essential Readings. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Luthar, S. (ed) (2003) Resilience and Vulnerability: Adaptation in the Context of Childhood Adversities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Pugh, G. (ed) (2001) Contemporary Issues in the Early Years: Working collaboratively for children. London: Sage.
  • Smith, P., Cowie, H. and Blades, M. (2003) Understanding Children’s Development. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Ware, L., Kincheloe, J., Steinberg, SR (eds) (2004) Ideology and the Politics of (In)Exclusion. NY: Peter Lang.
  • Murray, P. and Penman, J. (eds) (1996) Let our Children Be. Parents with Attitude: Sheffield.
  • Preston, G. (2005) At Greatest Risk: the children most likely to be poor. Child Poverty Action Group: London.