SCIPS (Strategies for Creating Inclusive Programmes of Study) is the result of a HEFCE funded project that was authored and managed by Dr Val Chapman(NTF), Director of the Centre for Inclusive Learning Support at the University of Worcester in 2003/04. During the period 2005/07 SCIPS was further developed through a Leonardo da Vinci funded transnational project, QATRAIN, and culturally adapted and translated versions are now ‘live’ in Bulgaria, Greece, France, and Poland. Six of the 22 subjects covered by SCIPS were completed as part of the Leonardo da Vinci funded Qatrain project, (2005/07) and four were completed as part of the University’s engagement in the LearnHigher Centre for Excellence in Teaching Learning (CETL), 2005/08.
SCIPS is a resource for staff involved in the interpretation of Subject Benchmark Statements for the creation and/or delivery of programmes. It can also be used during the production of any future Subject Benchmark Statements. Through the identification of potential barriers to learning within Benchmark Statements linked to appropriate enabling strategies, SCIPS assists the academic community in developing a more inclusive approach to the design of teaching, learning and assessment strategies that will enable disabled students to participate more fully in Higher Education.
Since 2000, the QAA has been developing an infrastructure to strengthen, elaborate and make more comprehensive, the purposes and outcomes of Higher Education in the UK. This has largely been in response to the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education 1997 (also known as The Dearing Report) and the Widening Participation agenda, and constitutes an attempt to maintain broadly comparable academic standards across the whole of HE.
As part of this agenda, the QAA, working with subject groups of academics from a wide range of disciplines, introduced a collection of Subject Benchmark Statements in two phases. Phase 1 subjects were introduced in April 2000, and included 33 subjects of which 11 were specifically related to healthcare disciplines. Phase 2 subjects were introduced in March 2002 and included 26 subjects.
Subject Benchmark Statements are authoritative documents written by representatives of academic communities and published by the QAA. They act as one of a set of reference points for designing and reviewing HE programmes of study in the UK, by describing the characteristics of particular subjects, outlining the attributes and capabilities graduates in those subjects might demonstrate, and representing the general expectations about the standards of honours degrees in the UK. This original brief did not explicitly include a consideration of inclusivity issues in relation to disabled students.
The Statements provide an external source of reference that, whilst recognising diversity and variety in HE provision, inform the process of designing programmes of study. Implicit within the design of programmes, are strategies for assessment and for the delivery of learning and teaching, it was therefore argued that there were clear.
The Statements have been revised since their publication: Phase 1 subjects in 2003 and Phase 2 subjects in 2005. The implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, part 4, provided a highly appropriate setting for subjects to be reviewed for inclusivity issues. This project raised awareness of disability issues right at the heart of the curriculum, providing a framework to inform future benchmark development.
In addition to projects relating to education, the University of Worcester is also involved in projects relating to the employment/employability of disabled people.
Employability and Disability
In particular, the Centre for Inclusive Learning Support at the University of Worcester was successful in its bid for a National Teaching Fellowship (NTFS) project, ‘Employability and Disability’ (2009/2011). This is a collaborative project between the University of Worcester (lead) and the Universities of Glocestershire and Plymouth to improce the employability of disabled students. The major outcome of the project will be a web-based resource, USEMYABILITY, that will:
- enable academic and careers staff support disabled learners in developing and/or demonstrating their employability skills, competencies and attributes as described in the Student Emplyability Profiles: A Guide for Higher Education Staff (Kubler et al, 2006)
- enable employers to meet the needs of disabled students in their work placement experience, foundation degrees, sandwich courses and/or internships.
Employers may also find the following links helpful:
The Employers’ Forum on Disability claims to be the world’s leading employers’ organisation focused on disability as it affects business. Its mission is to enable companies to become disability confident by making it easier to recruit and retain disabled employees and to serve disabled customers. The website hosts a wide range of resources and publications to support employers.