Issue 13.1 Summer 2021

Editorial

Sharron Sturgess

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the summer 2021 edition of The Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education (JIPFHE), my first as editor which I am proud to have been invited to do, and delighted to have undertaken.

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Well congratulations to us all for getting to the end of not just another academic year but a year like no other!  Most of us have been working from home supporting students, undertaking assessments, providing training and managing colleagues, and as challenging as this has been I cannot help but reflect on what a year of opportunity we have had. 

The move to remote online learning has presented more flexible ways for all students to engage with their studies.  For disabled students this increased accessibility in teaching, learning and assessment methods has served to increase their access to further and higher education.  It has also presented the opportunity to demonstrate their true potential in ways which better suit individual needs.  Many disabled students have also benefitted from being able to access support online, something that many institutions  are now looking to offer as the default choice going forwards.  That said, I don’t think you can beat meeting students face to face which I am looking forward to getting back to doing in the new academic year.

Although working on a computer all day moving from Teams meeting to Teams meeting can be fatiguing, for staff working from home has afforded opportunities to engage in more training with courses and conferences going online.  The recent success of the NADP conference is a fine example of this with its mix of pre-recorded material, live webinars and pod casts.  Many more people have engaged in networking and CPD opportunities as it is easier to dip in and out of conferences when they are online, and many have been free so staff have not been constrained by CPD budgets.  Furthermore, much like the rewards afforded to disabled students, many disabled staff have benefitted from home working as it allows for better management of disability related need, with the flexibility to control ones environment and work routines.

Going forward, we need to continue to capitalise on these new opportunities for flexible practice.  As disability professionals, we should work together with the sector to ensure disabled staff and students continue to benefit from the mainstreaming of reasonable adjustments we have traditionally had to fight for.  The ‘new normal’ should incorporate the best of what working from home online, and in person teaching and support has to offer; it no longer needs to be one or the other but can be either as and when the situation dictates.

And so to this bumper edition of the journal!  We have some terrific articles which demonstrate the wide range of professional practice NADP members are involved in, as well as the first class research which is undertaken in the sector.

In Part 1 we present 8 peer reviewed articles that cover a variety of research informed practice, starting with a number of articles that discuss the wider issues of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and inclusivity for the sector.  We open with Martha Kember’s article based on her PhD research which explores how the lived experience of disabled people is, and could be, considered in the design and delivery of equality and diversity training in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).  Next Nicola Martin presents a robust examination of the research literature relating to UDL in both the UK and USA, before discussing the findings of her research on UDL with staff and students from both countries.  Moving to a more localised discussion of the implementation of UDL, Marissa Hill examines the challenges and barriers for Sheffield Hallam University in embedding inclusive practice, and the role the Disability Support Service can play in this.

As a reflection of NADPs commitment to supporting the whole student lifecycle, we then have three articles which present research into activities designed to support entry into, and exit out of, higher education.  Firstly, Cate Neal’s article explores common issues faced by students in their transition from school to university, with a particular emphasis on student mental health.  She presents an Office for Students (OfS) two year funded project at the University of Lincoln designed to support students’ mental health and well-being, particularly in relation to the transition period.  Next, I am pleased to include an article by myself and my colleague Zyggy Banks regarding an online social group we have run this year to support the transition of our new autistic students during the restrictions of the Covid pandemic.  We present student feedback on the initiative, as well as our own reflections on what worked well and what we need to address going forward if we are to run the group again.  An article by Keren Coney then presents the first part of her PhD research on employability support for autistic graduates, and what university academic, careers and support staff can do to better equipment them for the world of work.  All three articles include a strong student voice element, and aim to inform the professional practice of the sector.

Part 1 concludes with a couple of articles examining specific disability practitioner roles.  Firstly, Suzy Beck’s article based on her PhD research examines the role of the specialist study skills tutor and the extent to which they interpret their role, and whether this could be explained using Whitchurch’s concept of the ‘Third Space Professional’.  Through interviews with tutors she examines to what extent they see their role as bounded by the requirements of DSA funded support, or whether as professionals they have more to offer wider pedagogical development within an institution.  Finally in Part 1, Jan Adams paper discusses the contribution of specialist mentoring with autistic students, arguing that the role contributes much to the academic success of autistic students and preservation of their positive mental wellbeing.

In part 2 of the journal we present 2 reflection pieces.  Firstly, Kinga Jones reflects on what and how we share disability related information with other staff and areas of the University.  She considers issues around disclosure, DSA recommendations and the implementation of reasonable adjustments, and the systems HEIs might use to communicate these.  We then present a piece by Lynn Wilson in which she reflects on the importance of intersectionality and how it impacts on her own identity and sense of self.  In this very personal piece Lynn shares with us her life journey in recognising and accepting her own intersectionalities, and in doing so how this has informed her practice as a disability professional.

Finally, in Part 3 we have two book reviews and an online exhibition review.  Christina Healey reviews Dyslexia and Success: The Winning Formulas (2020) by Karen Cousins, aimed at secondary school pupils but of use to FE and HE practitioners as it presents a series of dyslexic role models and strategies for support.  Fiona Kolontari then reviews Gaining Knowledge and Skills with Dyslexia and other SpLDs (2021) by Ginny Stacey with Sally Fowler.  This is the third book in the series ‘Living Confidently with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)’ and is a practical manual for practitioners, families and the general public wanting to understand and support people with dyslexia.  Finally, Christina Healey again contributes something a little different to bring this issue to a close when she presents an interview with Indy Bhullar from the LSE on an exhibition they put online last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the passing of the 1970 Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (CSDPA).  The exhibition remains online for the foreseeable future.

Thanks to all of the contributors who took the opportunity to write something for the journal, the sharing of your research, reflection and reviews will do much to support the continued development of our sector.  I would further like to encourage the readership to consider writing for our next or future editions of the journal.  The editorial guidelines can be found on the NADP website, and if you are new to publishing help and support are available from the editorial team.

I would also like to thank the members of the editorial team who took the time to peer review these contributions, and the NADP admin team, particularly Lynn Wilson, for their help and support in putting this edition of the journal together.  I hope you enjoy reading this issue, and find the articles as useful and stimulating as I did.

With warm regards,

Sharron Sturgess

Editor

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Articles

Kember, M. (2021) From enforcement to engagement: The role of the EHRC and Higher Education Institutions in considering the lived experience of disabled people. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher education. Issue 13.1. pp 7-19

Martin, N. (2021) University Design for Learning (UDL) in Higher Education: A UK, USA Comparison. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1. pp 20-49

Hill, M. (2021) Exploring the challenges of Inclusive Practice at Sheffield Hallam University. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1. pp 50 -72.

Neal, C. (2021) The importance of supporting student wellbeing during transition into Higher Education. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1. pp 73-89.

Sturgess, S & Banks, Z. (2021) “More More – continue to run this!” Reflections on an online social group for autistic students: a pilot as a response to the social restrictions of Covid-19. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1. pp 90- 103.

Coney, K. What should be done to ensure autistic graduates succeed in the workplace? Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1. pp 106-126.

Beck, S. The role of Specialist Study Skills Tutors in Higher Education: from bounded identity to Third Space professional? Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1. pp 127-148

Adams, J. (2021) The contribution of specialist mentoring for autistic student studying higher education courses in the UK. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1. pp 149-166

Jones, K. (2021) Managing information sharing between disability advisers and academic staff: implication of disclosure, DSA arrangement and reasonable adjustments. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1. pp 167 -175

Wilson, L. (2021) Intersectionalities: a personal account with considerations for disability practitioners. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1. pp 176 – 182

Healey, C. (2021) Book Review: Dyslexia and Success: The Winning Formulas. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1 pp 183 – 186

Kolontari, F. (2021) Book Review: Gaining Knowledge and Skills with Dyslexia and other SpLDs (2021). Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1 pp 187 – 189.

Healey, C. (2021) A Modern Magna Carta: Alf Morris and the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act. Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education. Issue 13.1 pp 190-193