Transforming the curriculum through a narrative of activism : a constructive evaluation of the Fighting For Our Rights educational resources

Paliokosta, Paty, Nash-Patel, Theresa, Morrow, Elizabeth, Ooms, Ann, O’Donoghue, Bern, Bassett, Jame and Millar, Joanna (2022) Transforming the curriculum through a narrative of activism : a constructive evaluation of the Fighting For Our Rights educational resources. (Project Report) Kingston upon Thames, U.K. : Kingston University & Kingston Centre for Independent Living. 139 p.


This report presents the findings of a constructive evaluation of the Fighting for Our Rights (FFR) educational resources. The original FFR project captured the oral histories of 23 disabled activists in Kingston upon Thames (1960-1990s) ( It was made possible by a partnership between academics at Kingston University and members of Kingston Centre for Independent Living (KCIL) and funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The present evaluation focused on two key educational resources from the project: a web-based National Archive of disabled activists' oral histories and the School Disability Awareness Resource (DAR) pack . A constructive evaluation was undertaken by Dr Elizabeth Morrow, an independent evaluation consultant, James Basset from KCIL, and Bern O’Donoghue, a socially engaged artist, in partnership with Dr Paty Paliokosta and members of the FFR team . Information about engagement, perceived value, impact, and sustainability were collected from participants (focus groups and interviews) involved in co-designing, adopting, or developing the FFR resources. Key findings of this evaluation are: • Student teachers, qualified teachers, pre-registration nursing students, academic and community partners, and senior academics have engaged with the FFR resources through education and training, knowledge exchange and organisational development. • People who have used the FFR resources value the underpinning concepts of inclusion and social justice in educational contexts, curricula and professionalism, and a socially connected model of disability that values diversity and inclusivity as a source of knowledge and learning for the benefit of everyone. • As they stand, the FFR resources could be rolled out in teacher training and primary schools. With some modifications and adaptations similar ‘lesson plan’ type resources could be developed into school-wide approaches, themed weeks in schools, or to smooth transitions into school, through school into further or higher education or employment. • There is a need for similar life experience-based resources for parents/guardians, family carers, and young carers. These groups in particular may benefit from hearing the affirmative messages of self-actualization and self-determination associated with the narrative of activism. • FFR resources have been used to inspire changes in higher education teaching and nursing curricula and pedagogical approaches that use experiential learning and direct interactions through story-making, film-making and drama-based projects. However, to extend the impact of the resources to larger groups (e.g., schools and professionals in practice) the approach could be enhanced with more use of photos, videos, or web-based information. • The theme of ‘inclusive environments, organisations and places’ could be developed so that the resources equip learners to become activists for inclusion within their own schools, workplaces, or communities. The indications are that the impact of FFR resources can be significant in terms of individual student learning with longer term impact on more inclusive practice and inclusive organisations. However, demonstrating impact on student attainment or other indicators requires putting in place a more structured and systematic approach to planning and collecting and evaluating outcomes and impact. This evaluation shows that the FFR DAR can affect higher education curricula and school’s curricula but, perhaps more importantly, it shows the pathways to impact associated with a narrative of activism. A narrative of activism is revealed as a connective factor, bringing together people, perspectives and professionalism with political, ethical and societal perspectives. Impact on awareness, knowledge and understanding is achieved through student engagement, learning relationships and interactions between people, and by academic lecturers who challenge, and reflect, and develop these critical skills in students. This constructive evaluation contributes towards extending and enhancing the benefits of the FFR resources for wider audiences and beneficiaries by offering five key strategies and 46 opportunities to develop the impact of FFR resources. Further research and development could investigate the skills associated with activism, such as campaigning, building a case for change, finding voice, and advocating for those who cannot. It could see how these skills could be translated into learning objectives and developed with teaching resources within different contexts of teaching and learning. Sustaining the impact of FFR resources needs to be a balance of raising awareness, challenging negative assumptions, perceptions or indifference, with the ‘long-game’ of changing structures, systems and cultures towards socially just outcomes.

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