Transforming the curriculum through a narrative of activism

Paliokosta, Panagiota [Collaborator] and Nash, Theresa [Collaborator]

Impact Summary

This case study focuses on the gains from the award-wining multi-disciplinary, civic engagement Fighting for our Rights (FFR) project. The project has been submitted as part of REF/23-Education Impact Case Study, entitled ‘Improving equality in higher education through the Inclusive Curriculum Framework and Value-Added metric’. More specifically, as mentioned on the submission ‘one innovative project the Fighting for our Rights project (2016-18) (Heritage Lottery Fund GBP76K, Nash, Paliokosta with Kingston Centre for Independent Living) has engaged nursing and education students in the process of designing learning experiences and resources in partnership with disabled activists and young people with profound disabilities to enhance curricula and empower students professional activism and leadership, which has informed a co-created Disability Awareness Resource for schools.’ The impact was initially evidenced on the transformation of the HE curriculum and students’ and staffs’ attitudes, who were involved in a real-life project. The ongoing project outcomes, which is connected to the wider initiative Heritage to Health have gradually improved awareness, understanding and engagement in the Disability Rights Movement (DRM) for student nurses, student teachers, the university community, sector organisations and public. This was achieved locally and nationally and pathways to impact will be presented below.

Key Achievements

  1. Inspiring and educating the public, trainee teachers and nurses, school children and people with disabilities through the creation of an accessible national record of the Disability Rights Movement and relevant CPD events.
  2. Enhancement and transformation of university and school curricula (for 300 student nurses and more than 450 Initial Teacher Education students so far) through a school resource pack stemming from civic engagement and co-production.
  3. Public engagement through displays at Museum, Heritage Centre, 4 local libraries and KU Civic event (6000 people visited the Kingston Museum and Library exhibition stands)
  4. Improved profile for the faculty and employability for students through shortlisting for Student Nursing Times Partnership Award 2018 and awards of the 2018 KU Inclusive Curricula Award and the 2019 TEAN Commendation Award for Effective TeachingPractice
  5. Knowledge exchange through peer reviewed paper publication and developing new interprofessional relationships through CPD for HE, schools and the third sector
  6. Enriching the community of practice on the disability rights movement, through research and knowledge exchange (locally, (festival of research) nationally, (university of East Anglia) and inspiring follow-up projects (e.g. virtual drama projects.

Key Aims

Apart from the prime aim of preserving the disability rights agenda, the intention was to improve awareness, knowledge and understanding of student nurses and teachers about disability and inclusion in their developing professionalism in HE and beyond. This would be facilitated by learning about local disabled people’s activism, by finding out about independent living, by creating an archive and embedding information in the given HE modules through collaborative work and co-production, while building relationships with people with disabilities and the wider community. The need for inclusion in this project was based on knowledge that we have a growing population of people with learning disabilities in the UK with increasingly poor healthcare and education. Children with learning disabilities are at increased risk of discrimination, bullying, permanent exclusion and solitary confinement at school. Across the board, healthcare professionals and students have poor attitudes, provide inadequate, unsafe care and lack understanding of how to communicate with people with learning disabilities (PHE, 2015). Engaging nursing and education students in this public engagement project would meet the identified need for robust multi-professional work (Rawlings and Paliokosta, 2011) that would include the co-creation and sharing of curricula linked to disability awareness (Paliokosta and Nash, 2018).


Fighting for our Rights project; With a grant of £76,900 from Heritage Lottery Fund, between 2016-2018 Kingston University School of Education and school of Nursing worked with Kingston Centre for Independent Living, Heritage2Health, St Philip’s School, and Kingston Archives to examine how a user-led group formed in 1967 to campaign for equal rights, acceptance, more choice, and control, and eventually became the Kingston Centre for Independent Living. It collected and shared stories from people involved in Disability Rights Movement (DRM) from 1960s to 1990s within the local community in order to inspire future generations of care professionals and teachers in working with people with disabilities. This two-phase project enabled student nurses from H2H to be trained to collect oral histories from 23 interviewees, to learn different skills through relational pedagogy and collaborate with student teachers. In phase two of the project, the stories collected and the resource pack became permanently available to the nation through the FFR website and this history was also shared by creating a film with St Philips and Bedelsford Special Needs School. I co-produced with Y2 initial teacher education (ITE) students an Education Resource Pack, by embedding the project activity in their Pedagogy module.

Key Outcomes

This multi-disciplinary oral history project allowed collaborations to flourish (e.g. between Heritage to Health, School of Education and local charity, KCIL) and has led to multiple outputs and impact, with significant pedagogical benefits for both schools (Nursing and Education). It enhanced students’ knowledge and understanding of inclusion and supported them in making those pedagogical decisions through collaborative lesson planning. The project actively supports inclusive attitudes and professional values, which underpin the work of an effective educator, including the capacity to establish appropriate working relationships with pupils and adults and work co-operatively as member of a teaching team. Linking professional teaching standards with a civic project is of enormous value for developing professionals to conceptualise their identity within a community of practice beyond the university. Additionally, participants attitudes have been improved (please see appendices) by having data material incorporated into lectures. A non-linear bank of material was created that had a stand-alone nature, but also interacted with the learning outcomes of the module and is transferable to other courses. An example of a relevant activity can be found here. Here is the External Examiner’s commendation stemming from this (2019): ‘(…) A strength of Kingston students is demonstrated in how positive they are in respect to supporting a wide range of need and ability in the classroom as observed via School Experience visits. This module has direct relevance within the ‘Intent’ area of the 2019 OFSTED Framework in that it grounds students’ knowledge (...) allowing students to build cross professional relationships and experience some aspects of multidisciplinary approaches- a must for 21st century teachers. This also will have an impact upon ‘employability,’ helping Kingston students stand out. (…) I hope that the next iterations are able to further develop the multidisciplinary approach, the resource development and the child-centred focus.

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