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EDU3006 : Responding to Special Educational Needs

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Caroline Walker-Gleaves
  • Owning School: Education, Communication & Language Sci
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module takes the perspective that special education is neither a place nor is it a particular group of students. Rather, special education refers to specialized interventions or environmental modifications, differentiated pedagogies, adapted curricula or other accommodations and supports, provided to students who are considered ‘special’. Responding to Special Educational Needs is therefore designed as a critical review course. Its purpose is to examine the policies, practices, challenges and dilemmas in understanding and educating all those who are considered ‘special’ learners. The module will encourage a view that all individuals have varying degrees of skills and untapped potential for living lives of quality, meaning and purpose within society. We will however, debate this view critically, through a variety of lenses. Finally, the field of Special Educational Needs is vast, and as a result, as the module progresses, you will be encouraged to develop and narrow your own particular areas of interest by focusing on a few key issues and ‘special’ learners.

Within this module, you will consider how special needs are characterized and identified, and you will develop an understanding of how and why students’ educational experiences are altered because of the law relating to special educational needs. Through key studies of the experiences of individuals who are considered ‘special’, you will gain an insightful and empathic approach to individuals’ experiences as ‘special’ learners, thus moving toward a critical understanding of social perspectives on ‘special’ individuals. The module will also consider how schools and other organizations accommodate special learners and special education, and develop a critical understanding of inclusive education policies and practices, as well as a deep understanding of current pedagogical strategies that are applied to special education.

In sum, the module aims are as follows:
•       To explore a variety of theoretical perspectives in special educational needs, and to identify the distinctiveness of each theoretical perspective
•       To study conceptualizations of special educational needs and the forms of support and intervention
•       To develop an interactive perspective of special needs based on the study of social, psychological and educational perspectives
•       To develop a critical approach to analyzing special needs policy and practice

Outline Of Syllabus

The module aims to introduce the main concepts and issues surrounding responses to special educational needs. It will include weekly, 11 x 2 hour lectures and weekly seminars covering the following content:

Historic perspectives on Special Educational Needs
Theories and conceptions of Special Educational Needs
The special child: theories and controversies within Special Educational Needs
Perspectives and experiences of Special Educational Needs
Inclusive education: history, politics, schooling and curriculum
Special schools: what and who are they for?
Special Teachers

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:00Preparation and completion time across the two assessments
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading167:0067:00Specific reading tasks related to seminars/lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Interactive seminars and lectures, readings, critiques of material facilitated through Canvas.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M602,500 words based on key themes taught during the module.
Written exercise2M401,500 words based on key themes taught during the module.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

In the written exercise, students will have ample opportunity to explore key concepts/themes/topics of interest. In parallel, students will be expected to develop a deep understanding of relevant research material and will present and share a range of ideas that will be of use for the essay. The essay builds on key ideas and topics from the lecture and seminar series. The module includes time for guided independent study where students are expected to extend their knowledge from lectures and seminars.

Reading Lists