Dr Tracy Edwards is a lecturer in Special Education, Inclusive Pedagogies and Digital Learning at Leeds Beckett University. In this blog, she explores the notion of 'extending what is ordinarily available to all' which is central to the academic literature on Inclusive Pedagogy (e.g., Florian, 2015).
Inclusive Pedagogy is an approach to teaching all learners (Florian 2015). It is an alternative to approaches to classroom practice which plan activities deemed suitable for “most” learners, alongside “additional” or “different” activities for “some”(Black-Hawkins and Florian 2012). Inclusive Pedagogy starts with the notion of “everybody” and asks us to consider how we can enhance the overall offer of learning to everyone, before placing pupils in “ability groups”.
The implementation of Inclusive Pedagogy therefore starts with “extending what is ordinarily available to all” (Black-Hawkins and Florian 2012, p. 575).
How might a teacher “extend what is ordinarily available to all” within their classrooms? Below, are a few examples that have been explored by teachers as part of the “proud to teach all” project.
Example One: ‘Warming Up’ a text
“The cost of hiring a paddle boat is £6.50 for the first half hour and £2:00 for each half hour after that. Priya and her friends would like to hire a boat. They have £20 between them.
How long can they have the paddle boat for?”
‘Warming Up” a text involves preparing pupils for what they are about to read, before presenting them with it. Warming-Up the above Maths word problem, for example, may involve spending 5 minutes talking through the below PowerPoint slide with pictures of a “paddle boat” a £20 note, and of “Priya” and her friends. In doing this, terms which not all students are familiar with could be introduced such as “hire” and “paddle boat”. Alternatively, a teacher could use physical objects to represent some of these terms.
By “warming up” a Maths words problem, it is likely that a higher proportion of pupils will access it, reducing the requirement for a teacher to plan different simultaneous activities for different perceived “ability groups” within her classroom. Rather than carry out the exhaustive task of sourcing different worksheets for a lesson, there is also scope for the teacher to adapt the activity responsively and informally (for example by giving pupils the option of reducing the cost of hiring the boat to £5:00).
Example Two: Applying ‘Autism Friendly’ approaches to all learners
Visual timetables within a classroom outline the sequence of a school day and/or the sequence of activities in a lesson. They are associated with autism education, and often seen as a specialist intervention for those with an autism diagnosis. For some, a visual timetable may be supported along with Now/Next boards which outline for a pupil what is going on “now” and what they will be moving on to do soon (see examples below).
In my own experience as a teacher, visual timetables can benefit all children and young people in schools and does not only benefit those diagnosed as autistic. The research on waiting times for a diagnosis (Crane et al. 2018; Kelly et al. 2019) and on the imperfections of the diagnostic process (Crane et al. 2018)suggest that autism may be a barrier to participation and learning in many lessons, for many more children and young people within our classrooms, than we might initially think. Visual timetables are also likely to support pupils with attention difficulties, difficulties with working memory, or the “time-blindness” associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Visual timetables can also work to resolve the anxiety that we all might feel, when unaware of the direction our day is going. I know that personally, whenever I go to a meeting, I like to first have an agenda, or see a flipchart with a plan of the day on the wall.
One teacher I once worked with, taught teenagers in an Alternative Education setting in England, for pupils who had been excluded from other schools. None of the pupils in his class had a diagnosis of autism yet benefited from having a visual timetable on the wall. Although this visual timetable was contextually appropriate and looked very different to those in the above pictures (and was often a PowerPoint slide printed onto A3 paper) the principle behind its use was exactly the same. When looking at specialist strategies associated with particular special educational needs, I have found, it is often helpful to consider how they might be channelled to “extend what is ordinarily available to all” pupils rather than be seen as remedies in relation to individual pupils.
Example Three: Using concrete manipulatives across the age-range
Concrete manipulatives are physical objects which we work with and handle. In Mathematics education, an example of a concrete manipulative might be a sets of toy sea creatures to count, or ‘base-ten’ sets to enable pupils to count in 1s, 10s and 100s. Concrete manipulatives are commonly found in early years classrooms. In my experience however, they tend to be used less in upper primary and secondary settings.
Building a positive culture around the use of concrete manipulatives with older learners, across all curriculum areas, is one way of “extending what is ordinarily available to all”. This can include the use of artefacts in History and Religious Education for example, or the use of model making kits to enable pupils to emulate the interactions between sub-atomic particles in Science.
Although offering different activities for “some” learners, some of the time, may still be a necessity, a “subtle but profound shift in thinking”(Florian et al. 2010, p. 712) away from “most” and “some” enables us to see beyond perceived deficits in individual children and focus on education for all. It therefore supports a “more optimistic view of human educability” (Hart et al. 2004, p. 11).
BLACK-HAWKINS, K. and FLORIAN, L., 2012. Classroom teachers craft knowledge of their inclusive practice. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, vol. 18, no. 5, [Available from: DOI 10.1080/13540602.2012.709732].
CRANE, L., BATTY, R., ADEYINKA, H., GODDARD, L., HENRY, L.A., and HILL, E.L., 2018. Autism Diagnosis in the United Kingdom: Perspectives of Autistic Adults, Parents and Professionals. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 48, no. 11, [Available from: DOI 10.1007/s10803-018-3639-1].
FLORIAN, L., 2015. Inclusive Pedagogy: A transformative approach to individual differences but can it help reduce educational inequalities? Scottish Educational Review, vol. 47, no. 1.
FLORIAN, L., YOUNG, K., and ROUSE, M., 2010. Preparing teachers for inclusive and diverse educational environments: Studying curricular reform in an initial teacher education course. International Journal of Inclusive Education.
HART, S., DIXON, A., DRUMMOND, M.-J., and MCINTYRE, D., 2004. Learning without Limits. Place: Milton Keynes . Publisher: Open University Press.
KELLY, B., WILLIAMS, S., COLLINS, S., MUSHTAQ, F., MON-WILLIAMS, M., WRIGHT, B., MASON, D., and WRIGHT, J., 2019. The association between socioeconomic status and autism diagnosis in the United Kingdom for children aged 5–8 years of age: Findings from the Born in Bradford cohort. Autism, vol. 23, no. 1, [Available from: DOI 10.1177/1362361317733182].