What is IDEAS?

A curriculum model and design tool for Brookes staff

IDEAS is a curriculum model and design tool that will support programme teams at Oxford Brookes with inclusive, digitally enabled curriculum development. By ensuring the five elements of IDEAS are central to what and how we teach, we will:

  • Make our curriculum more attractive and relevant to a diverse range of prospective students.
  • Ensure progression and good outcomes for all students, achieving the commitments and milestones of our Access and Participation Plan 2020-25.
  • Produce graduates who create positive social impact.

In short, the model embodies the philosophy of Education for Sustainable Development in “allowing every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future” (UNESCO 2014).

IDEAS: Inclusive learning, Digital inclusivity, Employability learning, Assessment for learning, Sustainability mindset

The five elements of IDEAS

The five elements of IDEAS represent current sector-wide best practice in inclusive learning design and Education for Sustainable Development. The model incorporates learning from existing inclusive curriculum models (such as the path-finding ‘inclusive curriculum framework’ of Kingston University) and a wide body of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning covering sustainability, equality, student belonging and the reduction of awarding gaps. A bibliography is available on this page.

The question sets

Under each element of the model is a set of questions, asked of programme teams as though from the student perspective. The phrasing of the questions in this way is a purposeful decision to centre the programme design process around the needs of students, by beginning with a better understanding of the barriers they may face and the strengths they bring with them. This is the first stage in the design thinking process which you will be supported to engage with through this toolkit.

Levels of questions

There are two levels of questions:

  • Threshold items: these are areas of the student learning experience and curriculum design which must be addressed as fundamental requirements.
  • Threshold plus items: these are areas of excellence in inclusive curriculum and teaching practice as recognised in such indicators as TEF and NSS, and in the wider literature. Whilst all programmes must meet the requirements of the threshold questions, threshold plus offers programme teams an opportunity to specialise and distinguish their programme.

How you should use the questions

Ideally, the question sets should be used with students as a conversation starter. Where that is not possible, responding to the questions should still be done as though in dialogue with students, and programme teams should critically reflect on and evaluate their responses. All questions are phrased as ‘open questions’ so that they elicit a discursive response and enable programme teams to expand upon the different aspects of their provision and the rationale for their course design and development. As they answer the questions, programme teams should therefore be asking themselves:

  • How would a student receive this answer? What would they say back to me?
  • Is this response adequate? How could I make it excellent?
  • Does my current practice respond to the needs of all students?
  • What areas of our practice do we need to develop?
  • In what areas of practice are we already demonstrating excellence? How can we share this with others at Brookes?

On this website you will find a plethora of resources and information about further support to guide you in using the IDEAS model to design - or perhaps ‘re-engineer’ - your curriculum, whether you are planning a new programme or rethinking an existing one.

The future of IDEAS

IDEAS and its question sets reflect what we currently know about best practice in inclusive curriculum development and as such is subject to change. As we learn more about what works, through evaluation, feedback from students and programme teams, and research, we will endeavour to revise and update the model.