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Unit information: Including Students' Voices in 2015/16

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Unit name Including Students' Voices
Unit code ACHSM0003
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Abbott
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

Within the field of special and inclusive education, the importance of listening to disabled students has been strongly and consistently emphasised in the policy and research literature. The overall purpose of this unit is to explore the issues involved in listening to disabled students and including disabled students in decision making. The unit's focus on involving students may be a relatively unfamiliar concept for some students (e.g. those from certain international contexts). Material will be presented in such a way that all students can engage with the 'reality' of this development, e.g. by inviting disabled adults to teach aspects of this unit and by participants sharing their experiences of listening to the voice of children/young people. The unit will be explicitly based on a social model of disability and disabled people will co-present selected sessions. There will be an emphasis on exploring the implications of research findings and participants will be encouraged to explore how research can impact on people with learning disabilities themselves. Tutors will refer to and include issues relating to Further and Continuing education, as well as the various contexts in school-age education.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit students will have:

  • Grasped an overview of the implications of what young disabled people tell us about education and learning from their own perspective
  • Explored the policy and legal frameworks which set out how young disabled people should be listened to and consulted
  • Explored the implications of research for listening to young disabled people at transition, as they leave school and move into adulthood, and to identify gaps and tensions within this field
  • Developed an understanding of why self-advocacy and decision making are important for disabled people, and how these skills can be nurtured in educational settings
  • Developed critical awareness of the role of adopting a person centred approach when school, parents/carers and other agencies work together

Teaching Information

Guided reading, lectures, seminars, and presentations across 21 contact hours in the University. Aspects of the unit will be taught by young disabled people from their own experience.

Assessment Information

The assessment for the unit will consist of a small practical or library-based investigation into an aspect of including students’ voices (4,000 words or equivalent). The main issues and challenges associate with including disabled children and young people’s views should be outlined and discussed with reference to the research literature and in relation to one of the following topics:

  • Supporting disabled children and young people with non-verbal communication
  • Supporting disabled children and young people as they transition to adulthood/adult services
  • Person centred approaches to working with disabled children and young people
  • Working in partnership with parents and carers and/or schools

Reading and References

  • Connors, C. & Stalker, K. (2003) The views and experiences of disabled children and their siblings: A positive outlook. London: Jessica Kingsley.
  • Tisdall, E.K.M., Davis, J.M. & Gallagher, M. (2008) Reflecting upon children and young people’s participation in the UK, International Journal of Children’s Rights, 16(3): 419-429.
  • Morris, J. (2002) Moving into adulthood: young disabled people moving into adulthood. Foundations series. Joseph Rowntree Foundation: York. Download from:
  • Lewis, A. (2011) Disabled children’s ‘voice’ and experiences, in S. Haines and D. Ruebain (eds) Education, Disability and Social Policy. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Goodley, D. & Runswick‐Cole, K. (2011) ‘Problematising policy: conceptions of ‘child’, ‘disabled’ and ‘parents’ in social policy in England’, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15:1, 71-85
  • Watson, N. (2012), Theorising the Lives of Disabled Children: How Can Disability Theory Help? Children & Society, 26: 192–202.