Well done, your task 2 response is very engaging and your arguments are well thought out. It’s great to hear your ideas and demands for BEP student. With reference to current ideas and discourse about inclusivity, discuss how you could make your curriculum more inclusive for your learners. The term ‘Inclusive learning’ was first defined in 1996 with the release of the “Tomlinson Report”. (www.matematicas.reduaz.mx.) Inclusive practice enables us to recognise and accommodate the requirements of all learners, therefore removing barriers to learning. The report changed the way we teach and how students with barriers to learning are perceived within the educational system.[N7]
There are many contrasting views that support and define the term inclusion [N8]which can often be associated with students who have impairments or students seen to have special needs. However I feel it is the responsibility of schools to provide inclusive practice and that it should relate to all learners. Effective curriculum design is very important for BEP learners [N9]because they are not as adaptable as students who have progressed up the formal education system.
For example, in the Higher education system, it is possible to make assumptions about the learners in the classroom, they have greater self-control and discipline, and for this reason, it is fair to make a generalisation about your learners. [N10]Inclusive practice is central to BEP students because they come to the classroom with so many emotional, social and physiological barriers to learning. There are many possible reasons why learning may be repressed, these are identified as barriers to learning. With reference to Maslow’s (1954) Hierarchy of Needs if basic and fundamental requirements e.g. cold, hunger, thirst are not met; students might find it difficult to remain motivated. These may become barriers to learning.
As their tutor, I have responsibility for my learners’ welfare and learning. The qualification in functional skills English enables them to gain a recognised qualification. The curriculum design for functional skills allows me to take a flexible and personalised approach to delivery.[N11] The aims and objectives are clearly set out in the formal course criteria, but crucially the methods I use to achieve those criteria allow me to approach teaching in a way to allow an inclusive approach.
The situational model has particular relevance with my group of learners. Often coming from an unhappy home life, lacking motivation and a good parental role model has had an impact on their focus in the classroom. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theorises that until their basic psychological needs, security, love and belonging are satisfied the learners will struggle to move on to the higher order levels of esteem and experience culminating in self actualisation.[N12] I attempt to make the classroom feel a welcoming and friendly environment and to try and satisfy some of the lower order of needs. To overcome the lack of a role model at home, as that role model [N13]I continuously explain and reinforce how the course can lead on to further education, and possibly a career where they could support themselves. Daily, I give a different example of where the course could lead them, tied into real life experiences.[N14]
I don’t ask people to speak for an entire group. ” Minority students often report either feeling invisible in class, or sticking out like a sore thumb as the token minority. This experience may be heightened when they are addressed as spokes people for their whole group, and can have implications on performance” (Lord ; Saenz, 1985).[N15] It is important to remember the focus of education is the learner. There is no one size fits all approach to curriculum, each learner is an individual.
It is important to put their needs clearly in sight when teaching. For example, I have come up against what I would consider to be an unfair college policy, by insisting on a formal referral process linked to attendance. My learners have been threatened all through the education system and not responded positively. By arguing this point with the college and relaxing the rule for my learners I can tailor targets and goals for each learner without setting them on target to fail before they start the course. I have set my learners personalised targets to encourage and give them incentives to attend, rather than using the mandatory formal referral system. An example of a personal goal would be getting to the centre, progression would be getting there on time.
Recent government policy has set some stringent targets in terms of reducing the number of NEETS, not in Employment, Education or Training,this has particular relevance for my BEP learners. For the government and the educational establishment effective practice is defined as reducing the NEETS, regardless of course suitability to the learner. For me, however, the employer is one of the most important stakeholders since the ultimate aim is to support learners to find their place in the employment system, which then leads to fulfilment for the learner, culminating in the economic success of the country.[N16]
To conclude, I feel the aim of the functional skills curriculum design should be to focus it to suit the learner. However, as I have argued, effective teaching and learning is not just about the design of the formal curriculum, it is the design and delivery of the informal curriculum – including a safe and comfortable learning environment, targets which are appropriate for the learner, systems which don’t punish failure, and meeting expectations, motivations and needs which are aligned with the individual’s own context of learning. “In a productive class, the learning experience is characterized by excitement for discovery, joy, satisfaction and pride at one’s accomplishments.
All these positive emotions have the effect of motivating students for further learning. Conversely, if the predominant emotions in a class are fear, shame or embarrassment for being wrong, or boredom and apathy about the content, these negative emotions will be highly demotivating to students.” (Ford, 1992). Inclusive practice means understanding learners’ needs and then personalising both the content and delivery of the learning. At all times, inclusive practice needs to be continuously and relentlessly built into the curriculum. Every lesson of every day has to be structured to be adaptable to meet the ever changing needs of the learner, sometimes minute by minute.
Wakeypedia (2008), What ideologies underpin curriculum? Available from: http://www.wakeypedia.org.uk/index.php?title=What_ideologies_underpin_our_curriculum%3F, (accessed 24th February 2012)
http://www.csie.org.uk/publications/tomlinson-96.pdf, (accessed 24th February 2012)