Inclusive practice in education: supporting special educational needs

This microcredential will equip you with the skills to enhance your confidence and creativity as a practitioner in inclusive education. With a focus on children and young people aged three to 19, you’ll discover and critique practices within diverse educational settings across the world. You’ll explore a broad range of theories and approaches, uncovering innovative methods that can be integrated into your own educational setting to ensure all those you work with have the same opportunities to access education.

Key features

  • Gain insights that will help you support children and young people with a range of additional needs, including autism, literacy and numeracy needs, and behavioural and sensory needs
  • Learning that is applicable to education settings across the world
  • Case studies featuring insights from children and parents who share their lived experiences
  • Created by leading OU academics, known for their teaching in inclusive education and research that have influenced policy, practice and debates both nationally and internationally
  • Acquire skills you can apply to your practice straight away

What is a microcredential?

Microcredentials are professional development short courses with academic credit designed to help you quickly build in-demand career skills and knowledge that you can immediately apply. Learn more about microcredentials.


This microcredential doesn’t currently count towards a specific OU qualification.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
This microcredential is studied entirely online
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

On this postgraduate microcredential, you’ll develop skills to recognise when children and young people need extra support and gain clear guidance and tools to create an inclusive environment. Over 12 weeks, you’ll cover the following topics.

  • What is inclusion, and why is it important?
  • How we view additional needs/disability
  • Children’s rights, voice and participation
  • Looking behind the behaviour to understand what drives it
  • Supporting the literacy needs of all learners
  • Numeracy needs
  • What do you know about autism?
  • Challenging the autism discourse
  • Understand and address sensory needs
  • The role of parents and other professionals in creating inclusive classrooms

You will learn

By the end of your learning, you’ll be able to:

  • describe and understand what inclusive practice in education means
  • assess and critique the medical model, social model and concept of neurodiversity
  • debate common misconceptions about additional needs
  • evaluate and critique strategies to better support the inclusion of people identified as having an additional need within the context of your setting
  • identify and apply inclusive education strategies to support common additional needs, including needs related to autism, literacy, numeracy, and sensory and behavioural issues.

Skills you will gain

  • Knowledge of key concepts and theories relating to inclusion
  • Recognise additional educational needs
  • Listening to children’s voices
  • Behaviour management
  • Supporting numeracy and literacy needs
  • Supporting sensory and autistic needs
  • Collaborating with an external support network
  • Working with others
  • Constructing and presenting a reasoned argument

Vocational relevance

This microcredential has been designed to enhance the employability of teachers, teaching assistants, supervisors, tutors and lecturers. It is also beneficial for those with an interest in educational inclusion, such as parents, carers, social workers, and educational policy developers. The course content and case studies will be relevant to learners within different professional contexts across the globe.

Created by leading experts and practitioners from The Open University

  • Dr Amanda O'Shea is a lecturer at the OU and a former mathematics and science teacher. Her special interests are in educational assessment and mathematical talk.
  • Christine Bower is a lecturer at the OU. She is a former primary school teacher and is particularly interested in equitable and inclusive education for all children and young people.

Teaching and assessment


Throughout the course, you’ll take part in weekly tasks and discussions with co-learners to support and consolidate your learning. Towards the end of the course, you’ll submit an assessment which will be marked and graded by subject matter experts. This assessment will require you to demonstrate the skills you’ve learned in a project that makes up 100% of your final mark.

Study support

  • Learn 100% online with a mix of video, audio and written materials.
  • Engage in interactive learning through self-assessment questions, polls, tasks and reflection.
  • Share ideas and experiences in discussion with other learners, building skills, confidence and knowledge.
  • Receive support from mentors who guide discussions and answer questions.
  • Study at a time that suits you with the flexibility to access the course from your desktop, tablet or mobile device.

What you will gain

15 UK credits at postgraduate level from The Open University* and a Certificate. Academic credits are awarded on passing the final assessment. These will be at postgraduate level 7 of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) / level 11 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

*Academic credit may be used towards selected OU qualifications. For more details, including eligible qualifications, visit Counting microcredentials towards OU qualifications. The credit awarded may also be used at another university, subject to the agreement of the receiving institution.

Course work includes

End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Inclusive practice in education: supporting special educational needs typically starts three times a year – in March, June/July and October. This page describes the microcredential that will start in March 2024.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

This postgraduate-level microcredential will benefit anyone working in, or aspiring to work in, an educational setting. It’s suitable for those looking to enhance their skills and knowledge in inclusion and supporting educational needs. You will ideally have:

  • a bachelors degree or equivalent and
  • experience working in an education setting, for example, early years, a primary school, special school, secondary school, further education college, EOTAS/alternative educational provision, informal education settings, or higher education.

Please note

  • Experience working in an education setting is not essential, as case studies will be presented and can be used as a basis for reflections.
  • If you do not have a degree or equivalent level qualification, you may find the postgraduate level assessment challenging.
  • All teaching is in English, and your English proficiency needs to be adequate for postgraduate study. As a guide, this corresponds to Level 7 of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). However, you won’t need to provide a formal English language score to enrol.

Course length

This 12-week course requires approximately 12.5 hours of self-paced learning per week, totalling around 150 hours for completion.


Start End England fee Register
11 Mar 2024 Jun 2024 £600.00

Registration closes 10/03/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in March 2027.

Future availability

Inclusive practice in education: supporting special educational needs typically starts three times a year – in March, June/July and October. This page describes the microcredential that will start in March 2024.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Microcredential funding

Some of our microcredentials are available to study for free through government-funded schemes.

Find out about funding available if you are based in Wales or Scotland.

Study materials

What's included

All learning materials, exercises and activities are delivered entirely online.

While certain content can be downloaded, some content is exclusively accessible online, requiring a reliable internet connection for viewing. Please consider this if you are travelling. 

Computing requirements

You can learn from your desktop computer or laptop or take your learning with you on a phone or tablet. You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop/laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS (Monterey or higher. Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all currently supported Android and iOS versions.

If you have a disability

The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or sonware to assist you in using a computer or the internet, you can contact us about the support which can be given to meet your needs. 

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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