Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) has an excellent partnership with the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences. The funding from Sainsbury’s has enabled SDS to deliver three UK Disability Inclusion Training (DIT) sessions to 87 fourth-year PE students, prior to them undertaking their final teaching practice.
June Murray Associate Tutor, within the Faculty of Education at the University of Edinburgh, provides an overview as to the importance of PE students gaining greater knowledge, understanding and applying it through the UK DIT regarding the inclusion of young people with a disability. June said:
“It helps the students to become more professional, empathetic, and committed to teaching all pupils. Furthermore, it allows them to plan for the huge diversity of needs within a class.”
Q. Why is it important for PE students to gain greater knowledge and understanding regarding the inclusion of young people with a disability?
“The training puts the students in a better position to demonstrate more fully the values and standards required of a PE teacher. It is the combination of theory and practice that is a vital combination and provides a tangible learning environment.
“The content provides a kudos for the training being transmitted and has proved to be invaluable learning for all the students. In essence, it brings about greater resonance for the PE students in Year 4 when completing their teaching practice and about to embark on their NQT Year. The University further identifies that the learning that takes place for the PE students makes them more thoughtful about planning and there is a definite shift in their practice and ability to plan for inclusion.”
A central theme that runs throughout is to highlight ability, not disability and it often changes the PE student’s view as to the imperative need for differentiation in teaching. The subtle nuances of differentiation can mean the difference between inclusion for a pupil with disabilities and isolation.
Throughout the training, cards were provided to the students to assist their learning and provide them with support. Below are some of the quotes that have come directly from the 4th year students who undertook the training in November 2019 and went out on placement in January 2020.
The following Q&A in the article is with participants who completed the disability inclusion training.
Q. What do you consider to be the key learning from the disability inclusion training?
“The DIT has massively enhanced my knowledge of being able to alter my teaching in order to best meet the needs of every pupil in the class in a fun and creative way. The content that was taught through these practical sessions is fundamentally the most important part of my teaching practice as what was taught goes way beyond just supporting pupils with additional support needs, it’s about recognising that every pupil learns differently. I would consider the DIT course to be vital for all student and even graduated teachers.
“Deeper understanding of the importance of inclusion for those with disabilities and without, especially within a sports context.
“I think the biggest thing I have taken from these workshops is getting to experience how vulnerable some young people will feel when they are in PE/school in general.
“I don’t think I realised how much I learned from the training until being on placement and now reflecting on it, very glad we got to have the training.
“The key thing I took from the training was knowledge for different disabilities and then the process of adapting activities by the space and equipment to help the learner. Before the training, I had little awareness of the impacts of different disabilities and how to best understand an individual’s needs. The course also taught me to focus on things that individuals can do and not only focus on what they can’t do.”
“I’m definitely more aware of differentiating lessons to ensure that everyone is included whether it be equipment or different challenges.”
Q. What has been the practical impact been during your placement?
“It’s definitely changed my view on how important my job as a teacher, to include these pupils and all the possibilities that are available so all can participate in my PE lessons.”
“I have used a lot of the content from the DIT in my student placements. A very memorable moment for me was on PEP, I shadowed one pupil with additional support needs in all of his classes, once a week for 4 weeks. He made it very clear that PE was by far his least favourite subject as he struggled to mix with other kids in his class and felt too under pressure in a PE environment so he very rarely took part. However, as I was there as an extra member of staff, I was able to support him on a 1 to 1 basis in PE for 3 weeks and we simply did our own adapted PE lesson isolated from the other pupils. The lessons I prepared were entirely things that I had been taught within the DIT sessions held at the University. I simply just wanted him to be engaged with PE and enjoy it more so he would build up his confidence. In my final week of PEP, I asked him if he felt like he would want to go back into PE with the other pupils and he was hesitant at first but agreed. It may not seem like a huge life-changing story but the difference of being able to take part in fun activities and bring enjoyment to his physical exercise had changed his outlook on the subject in a small period of time. It’s something that I feel very happy about.”
“It has enabled me to grasp a greater understanding of multiple disabilities and helped me to identify the barriers that students with disabilities face on a daily basis.”
“The course has allowed me to gain a deep appreciation and admiration of those with disabilities. This has meant that I ask those within my class to help me reflect upon my lessons for next time. By doing so this has helped build relationships while teaching while also aiding my own development.”
“One example I would give is from my 4th-year placement where I had one pupil who wouldn’t bring his kit and didn’t want to join in etc., but by gradually encouraging him over the weeks and using adapted activities, he started joining in as he felt more comfortable within the class.
“The training has definitely given me more confidence when there are pupils in my classes with a disability or learning difficulty by making me aware of the appropriate ways to communicate with the pupil and tailor lessons to allow them to successfully be involved in the lesson. It has also made me put more thought into how I am giving instructions or explaining activities so all pupils can understand what they are to do. By being more aware of pupils’ needs has also made me think about the class setup and who pupils are working with and the space they are working in, which is something I learned on my last placement guided by what I learned from the course.”
“I had a pupil in my class that had tunnel vision, taking from the training, when I put on the tunnel vision goggles and I felt for myself how it felt, I made sure that I was doing everything to make her feel comfortable and, benefiting from lessons as much as everyone else in the class.”
Thank you to Scottish Disability Sport and the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences for sharing the student journey with us. For further information about SSS’ partnership with SDS, follow this link. If you wish to discuss disability inclusion further, please get in touch with your Regional Development Coordinator.
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