22 SES 06 A, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
Parallel Paper Session
This paper will present key findings from a recent doctoral study which examines policy and practice concerning student teachers with dyslexia in higher education. The paper critically analyses a number of recurring themes including the legislative and policy context of disability in higher education both in Europe and the United Kingdom, the human rights agenda and the move from a medical to a social model of inclusion. In addition the paper will examine concepts of disabilism (Madriaga 2007) in relation to students with dyslexia in teacher education and will identify the barriers and challenges for these students.
Since the Millennium there has been an increasing socio-political view of inclusion. The social model of inclusion has replaced the medical model where disability was seen as a medical problem within the individual that needed to be assessed by “professionals allied to medicine” (Finkelstein, 1999; Chapman, 2006). The call for full inclusion in society for disabled people has been an international movement, fuelled by the burgeoning field of disability studies (Barnes et al 2002). This has resulted in disability legislation and the development of public policies calling for equity and social justice. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006 )was the first human rights treaty of the 21st century and, according to Chapman (2006) it marked a major shift in the rights of people with disabilities across the world.
The impetus for widening participation and equality in higher education has been largely the result of the Lisbon Treaty (2000) which aimed to make the European Union competitive within a knowledge economy. This Europeanization has continued and in 2009 the European Council agreed that co-operation in education and training to the period 2020 should be established to cover a strategic framework to cover learning in all contexts form early learning through to adulthood. Legislation on equity and social inclusion has had an impact on higher education in the United Kingdom and an increasing number of young people with disabilities in higher education are applying for and gaining places in this sector (Konur, 2006). In law, universities in Scotland and the rest of the UK are bound by the Disability Equality Act (2010) which makes it illegal to discriminate against any student who has a disability and it is the responsibility of the university to make reasonable adjustments for all students who have a disability. A number of studies have highlighted that there has been a marked increase in students with dyslexia in higher education and that this is the most commonly declared disability (Griffin and Pollack, 2009; Pumfrey, 2008; Riddell and Weedon, 2006). However, other studies have concluded that some academics are sceptical that teaching should be a career goal for students with dyslexia. (Heatherington and French, 2008; Riddick, 2003; Newall and Richardson, 2003). Furthermore, Griffiths ( 2011) recognised in her study that there was no indication that teachers with dyslexia were any less competent as teachers.
The aim of the study will be to address the research question “How can students with dyslexia at a Scottish university become effective teachers?”
Chapman, V. (2006) Academic Standards and Benchmark Descriptors: developing strategies for inclusivity, in Embedding Success: enhancing the learning experience for disabled students , pp 45-55, Routledge. European Council (2000) Lisbon European Council 23 and 24 March 2000 Presidency conclusion available online at: www.Europarl.eu/summits/list1-en.htm accessed 5 January 2012 Equality Act (2010) online at www.legislation.gov.uk. Accessed 5 December, 2011. . Griffin, E. and Pollack, D. (2009) “Student experiences of neurodiversity in higher education: insights from the BRAINHE project. Dyslexia, 15 (1). 23-41. Griffiths, S. (2011) “Being dyslexic doesn’t make me less of a teacher”. School placement experiences of student teachers with dyslexia: strengths, challenges and a model for support. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. Doi: 10.1111/j.1471-3802.2011.01201 Konur, O., (2006) Teaching Disabled Students , Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 11, No 3, July 2006, pp. 351-363. Madriaga, M. (2007) Enduring disablism: students with dyslexia and their pathways into UK higher education and beyond. Disability in Society, 22 (4), 339-412. McNiff and Whitehad (2003) Action Research Principles and Practice 2nd Ed., London: Routledge, Falmer Riddell , S. and Weedon, E. (2006) “What counts as a reasonable adjustement? Dyslexic students and the concept of fair assessment.” International Studies in Sociology in Education, 16 (1) 57-73.
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