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EDU3006 : Responding to Special Educational Needs

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Caroline Walker-Gleaves
  • Owning School: Education, Communication & Language Sci
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


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 those who are considered ‘special’. Responding to Special Educational Needs is therefore 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, and therefore to explore theory and practice related to the teaching and learning of students with special educational needs and disabilities. The activities during the module help bring these aspects together.

By the end of the module, you will have engaged with a diverse range of subject matter and so will have moved toward becoming an informed, reflective, and reflexive thinker within the field of special education, whether you intend to become a teacher, educational professional, psychologist, social worker, learning mentor, policy maker or just a more informed citizen. Above all, 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 so, as the module progresses, you will be encouraged to develop your own areas of interest by focusing on a few key issues and ‘special’ learners.

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 attendant 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

There are four interrelating elements to the module: firstly, you will study the Policies that define, and shape SEND, and give rise to how categorization and assessment occur; secondly, you will study the ideas and concepts underpinning such policies and examine inclusion and diversity and disability in depth. Within these first two areas, 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. But we will also explore a key plank of SEND, and that is Inclusion. So inclusive education is examined from a range of critical perspectives. The concepts of inclusion, disability, difference, and diversity will be examined and critiqued. Inclusive and special school provision from different global contexts will be studied. Different critical perspectives will be developed including Disability Studies, Globalization, and Inclusive Pedagogy. You will be encouraged to reflect upon the development of special and inclusive education systems in your home country as well as considering a range of international and global perspectives.

Then you will also study the experiences of people considered to be ‘special’ in some way, including pupils and their parents. And last, you will examine SEND pedagogy, differentiation and consider how different types of special educational need, for example, SEMH, autism, are taught, planned, and supported in schools. 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. When we consider how schools and other organizations accommodate special learners and special education, we will develop a critical understanding of inclusive education practices, as well as a deep understanding of current pedagogical strategies that are applied to special education.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Core lecture content
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion104:0040:00Formative and summative assessment preparation
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities51:005:00Advanced Writing Workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00Core seminar content.
Guided Independent StudySkills practice172:0072:00Learning how to critique research papers
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops105:0050:00Core-lecture related content
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