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Equality, participation and inclusion: learning from each other

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This module is for anyone interested in issues of access for children and young people in diverse social and educational contexts. It supports you in engaging with differing perspectives on equality, participation and inclusion, and in developing your own perspectives. You will address the dimensions of disability, disaffection and learning difficulty in the context of wider diversity across the breadth of childhood and youth services. It asks what constitutes good participatory and inclusive practice. A range of video case studies from early years to late teens, with an emphasis on education and learning, illustrate the key themes and issues.

What you will study

The opening section of this module explores the conceptual basis for dealing with difference. The initial focus is on the how and why people fight for inclusion and equality. The historical construction of disability and its support in an educational and health framework is interwoven through the units. It goes on to consider how social barriers have impacted on the diversity of individuals. It will introduce the conceptual frameworks to be used throughout the module.

The second section addresses the varying perspectives on inclusion, participation and equality held by academics, those in professional roles, parents and other ‘stakeholders’. First-hand accounts from children and young people, service-users, and disability activists are also included. Students will use online and written materials to recognise that there is no unified conceptualisation of these constructs and that individuals can hold different perspectives at different times or even at the same time, related to or separate from their professional or personal roles.

The module then explores the ongoing development of services intended to deliver equity and involvement for a diverse population. It encourages the exploration and critique of changing policies at a local and national level. The policy in practice is examined through video case studies of an inclusive school and a children’s centre, and by looking towards alternative interventions to prevent social and educational exclusion. The process of creating new services for children and youth services will be examined as a political process involving policies in tension.

The fourth section considers the dilemmas that exist through our use of difference to define ourselves and others, and the kinds of support we provide for each other. It examines the experiences of a broad range of individuals as a consequence of their identified difference. Also the impact that this has had upon the support they have received, the barriers they have faced, and their notions of self and identity.

The final section discusses how individuals can lead change in the culture and practice of organisations, and other social structures linked to childhood and youth. It presents perspectives on good practice in inclusive education and childhood and youth provision, and how this might be evaluated and measured. We look at examples of collaboration, listening, reflection and learning and how they can be enacted in relationships with young people and professionals in a variety of contexts. Consideration is given to how people can overcome resistance and fight for their rights. The module concludes by looking forward to what seems possible now.

The module is delivered through a mix of written and online text, allowing it to reflect changes in policy, theory and practice. All materials will be downloadable or accessible through DVD. Throughout the module, through the assessments and the activities, you will be encouraged to develop your own views on the issues raised alongside the perspectives of others. As well as student forums you will have the option to upload video and audio clips for other students to reflect upon and respond to. If you don't have a built-in webcam on your PC/laptop we can supply a web camera on request via StudentHome shortly before the module starts.

You will learn

The aims of this module are to enable you to:

  • understand the historical and policy context of responses to difference, with particular reference to issues of education and disability
  • explore a range of models of provision for children and young people, to consider their delivery of equality, participation and inclusion, focusing upon disability, disaffection and learning difficulty in the context of wider diversity
  • consider the perspectives and experiences of a range of children and young people, and those involved in their support, in relation to issues of equality, participation and inclusion
  • consider the values, policy and organisational dimensions inherent in delivering equality, participation and inclusion through social structures, with particular reference to education
  • develop your own position on the delivery of equality, participation and inclusion
  • develop a critical approach to writing and practice in relation to equality, participation and inclusion.

Entry requirements

There are no formal academic or experiential requirements to study this module.

If you're not sure you're ready, talk to an adviser.

What's included

Module books, other printed and online materials, DVD, webcam, website.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either:

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Rix, J., et al. (ed) Equality, Participation and Inclusion 1: Diverse Perspectives Routledge £31.99 - ISBN 9780415584227
  • Rix, J., et al. (ed) Equality, Participation and Inclusion 2: Diverse Contexts Routledge £30.99 - ISBN 9780415584241

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E214 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Equality, participation and inclusion: learning from each other (E214) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start October 2019. It will start for the last time in October 2019 – there’s no planned replacement.

Course work includes:

6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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