Good practice in inclusive field work

Prior planning 

SENDA commits us to planning ahead to avoid discrimination.

Curriculum design

  • What are the learning outcomes? In what ways does the field work match the intended outcomes? It is common for field work to have a rather hearty yomping ethos – e.g glaciation can only be studied up the steepest mountains….but can you design a less inaccessible trip which meets the explicit outcomes without also imposing implicit requirements of high levels of physical fitness?
  • Can you build in field work which draws on the full range of experiences in your students? In social sciences, can you draw on the variations within your students to encourage peer learning e.g. by using student autobiographies to encourage reflection on how their individual lives illustrate aspects of social theory?

Preparation for field work

  • Can you build in prior training in field work skills which will allow all students to make best use of their time in the field? For example offering some elements of a virtual field trip to help students with the basics of identifying rock samples by a simple set of diagnostic questions. This may be of special value to a student with a hearing impairment, who may not be able to hear clearly out in the wind, but it will add to the experience for all students.
  • Do the dates of the trip clash with important religious festivals? This can easily be checked by referring to a calendar which includes dates for future years.

Transport and field work

  • Do you know whether the transport you use is accessible to students with mobility impairment? You should check with the students concerned about what their needs are, and whether or not they have specialised transport.

Accommodation for residential trips

  • Check before hand about wheelchair access (including bathroom facilities), alternative alarm systems (for students with hearing impairment), ease of access for students with a visual impairment (including guide dog acceptability)
  • Will there be support worker(s) travelling with the student(s)? Is the accommodation appropriate e.g. in relation to privacy?
  • Is it impossible to make a trip accessible without losing essential learning outcomes? SENDA doesn’t insist that we do the impossible: there may be some elements which simply can’t be made available, but we do need to be able to justify them, and to offer some alternative if assessment is involved in the field work.