This is the final episode of the first season of Universal learning. It’s also the most personal episode for me, as I am talking to Vikki Ray and Jordan Convertino, a mother and son who I first met when Vikki was looking for a tutor to help Jordan. He faced a number of challenges growing up due to the fact that Jordan is dyslexic and Vikki was getting to the point where she felt he needed extra help with his GCSEs.
In the previous episode, I talked to David Powell about action research in theory. But in this episode, I’m talking to Jo Fletcher-Saxon about action research in practice. Jo is Assistant Principal at Ashton Sixth Form College and has worked tirelessly over the last few years with Sam Jones of the Bedford College Group to promote action research in further education.
This is the first episode in a two-part special on action research. If you haven’t heard of it before, action research is a term used to describe research that is done by practitioners themselves in the environments they work in. In other words, it isn’t academics doing experiments in highly controlled environments. It’s people like teachers and learning support practitioners trialling interventions in their own classrooms. I am a great advocate for action research as I believe that it can greatly improve our practice which results in better outcomes for students.
I’m very glad to say that in this edition of Universal Learning, I’m talking to Lou Mycroft, one of the originators of the ideas room. Lou describes herself as a nomadic educator, researcher, and writer, particularly but not only in the fields of community education and adult education.
In this edition of Universal Learning, I’m talking to Mike Scott, an autistic lecturer working in further education. Mike teaches creative media to learners with additional needs. We begin our conversation talking about how Mike started his working life as an engineer in the Royal Navy, but an injury cut his career short. He then spent around ten years struggling to find a regular job. But he returned to education as a mature student and Mike credits adult education as giving him a second chance.
In this edition of Universal Learning, I’m talking to Mel Lenehan, Principal and CEO of Fircroft College of Adult Education in my hometown Birmingham. Fircroft is one of only two residential FE colleges left in the UK and Mel begins our conversation talking about its history.
In this edition of Universal Learning, I’m talking to Elaine McGreevy who is a speech and language therapist. Many of the children and young people that Elaine has worked with over the years are autistic and she has become a powerful advocate for the rights of autistic people to be treated fairly and with dignity.
In this edition of Universal Learning, I’m talking to Sue Blackwell, who co-founded the charity DanceSyndrome with her daughter Jen. Jen has Down’s Syndrome and DanceSyndrome’s mission is to empower learning-disabled individuals like Jen through inclusive dance classes and other activities. It was founded though necessity because from an early age, Jen wanted to dance and as she entered adulthood, she struggled to find a truly inclusive dance group that met people’s individual needs.
In this edition of Universal Learning, I’m talking to Tom Starkey, an assistive technology adviser working in higher education. And by assistive technology, I mean devices or software that help to maintain or improve a person’s ability to do things in everyday life including work and study. Before working in a university, Tom had a varied career which included working as a teacher in schools and pupil referral units or PRUs, as well as writing about teaching in a variety of publications, and consulting for educational technology companies.
In this first edition of Universal Learning, I’m talking to Nicola Beldham, an inclusion specialist who like me works in further education with post-16 learners. But what she has to say about inclusion I think is relevant to all phases of education in some way.