The second meeting of the Inclusive Practice Sub-Committee (formerly the Special Needs Sub-Committee) of the University of London
Thursday, 17 November 2011 MINUTES
PRESENT: Dr Kathy Baker (KCL, retired) (Chair), Mr William Eames (UoLIA), Ms Denise Maguire (External Member), Ms Diana Maniati (Inclusive Practice Manager (formerly Special Needs Coordinator), UoLIA), Mr Tim Palmer (UoLIA), Mr Tim Wade (UoLIA).
Mr Toby Boyd (Secretary, IPSC), Ms Gundi Nabi (UoLIA). APOLOGIES:
Ms Katherine Bull (UoLIA), Mrs Vicky Devaney (UoLIA), Ms Nicola Martin (Head of Disability and Wellbeing Service, LSE), Ms Pamela Roberts (UoLIA), Dr Steven Warburton (UoLIA), Professor Paul Webster (SOAS).
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
226. The apologies for absence are listed above. QUORACY
227. It was noted that the meeting was inquorate. The members present agreed, under rule 31(b) of the Standing Orders of the Sub-Committee, to proceed with the meeting and to circulate a written summary of their decisions to absent members for comment.
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE CHAIR
228. The Chair welcomed members and attendees to the first meeting of the Sub-Committee for the new academic year.
229. She noted that there were still vacancies for membership of the Sub-Committee, but that staff in the International Academy’s Corporate Performance and Quality directorate were working hard to fill these. The Chair of a postgraduate Examination Board had recently joined, and recruitment of an undergraduate student member was in hand. MINUTES
Inclusive Practice Sub-Committee of the University of London International Academy
230. The minutes of the third meeting of the Sub-Committee held on 30 June 2011 (paper IPSC 2/1) were received without comment. Agreed
231. That the minutes of the Sub-Committee meeting of 30 June 2011 be approved.
Special Examination Arrangements Policy
232. The Inclusive Practice Manager reported on progress with the Special Examination Arrangements Policy.
233. Following formal endorsement from the Sub-Committee at its third meeting, the Inclusive Practice Manager had arranged for it to be approved by the Academic Committee through Chair’s action so that it could be implemented in time for September and October
234. It was noted that both the Special Examination Arrangements Policy and the Inclusive Practice Policy were available on the International Programmes’ public website.
QAA Code of Practice Mapping Exercise – Update
235. At its previous meeting, the Sub-Committee had received and
commented on a draft paper produced by the International Academy’s Head of Quality mapping the International Programmes’ inclusive practice provision against relevant parts of the QAA Code of Practice (see Minutes 199–207 and Paper IPSC 1/4).
236. Members had queried the use of the word ‘potential’ in an action at page 6 of the document: ‘Potential integration of inclusive practice principles into the International Programmes’ Learning & Teaching Strategy’. The Head of Quality had since clarified with the Secretary that the aim was definitely to integrate inclusive practice principles into that strategy.
237. Members had also recommended that a planned thematic review of engagement with inclusive practice issues within the International Programmes should occur as soon as reasonably possible, and certainly by the end of 2013. This view had also been fed back to the Corporate Performance and Quality directorate, responsible for arranging the review, but it was felt that some further follow-up action from the Sub-Committee might be useful.
238. That the Secretary contact the Corporate Performance and Quality directorate to investigate possible scheduling of the thematic review of inclusive practice provision and to offer the Sub-Committee’s assistance in preparing that review.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
Communicating the Sub-Committee’s work and liaising with
stakeholders: survey of inclusive practice provision at recognised teaching institutions
239. The Inclusive Practice Manager reported on progress in preparing a survey of inclusive practice provision at recognised third-party teaching institutions. This had been recommended by the Sub-Committee at its previous meeting, and the Inclusive Practice Manager had now, in conjunction with the LSE’s Head of Disability and Wellbeing Service, developed a series of draft questions.
240. The Inclusive Practice Manager supplied the questions for discussion at the meeting, and they were also to be circulated after the meeting to allow for any further comment from members (Paper IPSC 2/2). 241. Members at the meeting welcomed the draft questions. It was felt that
they would prove useful not only in gathering information from teaching institutions, but also in prompting institutions to reflect on their inclusive practice provision.
242. It was noted that inclusive practice provision was a new area for many institutions. The survey was intended to be a starting point only in an ongoing conversation designed to raise awareness of inclusive practice issues at institutions, improve the Sub-Committee’s understanding of practical issues faced by the institutions, identify and spread good practice, and so generally help raise standards of provision in the long term.
243. Although there was some move towards requiring specified standards of inclusive practice provision, notably with the specification of such a requirement in the criteria for institutions recognised to teach the Undergraduate Laws Diploma programme, the emphasis of work with institutions should be encouragement and cooperation rather than enforcement.
244. Having broadly approved the questions as drafted, members then discussed how best to implement the survey. A crucial issue here was anonymity. It would be relatively straightforward to anonymise any results that were published (aside from “good news” stories that an institution wished to publicise): the survey results would be published by geographical region so that individual institutions would not be identified. It was hoped that this would encourage candid responses. 245. But should survey results also be anonymised before they were
reported in to the International Academy? On balance, members decided that that would be inappropriate. An anonymous survey might well require the involvement of independent consultants, which might mean extra cost and delay. And in any case it was felt that an
anonymous survey would send a misleading signal to institutions, given that the aim was not to police institutions’ behaviour, but rather to open a constructive conversation with them to improve International
Programmes provision across the board. Agreed:
246. That, subject to final refinement, a survey questionnaire be prepared in line with the draft presented to the meeting by the Inclusive Practice Manager.
247. That the Inclusive Practice Manager and the International
Academy’s Associate Director of Assessment and Awards liaise with colleagues to arrange for the dissemination of the survey and the collection and analysis of results.
248. That the Inclusive Practice Manager and the Associate Director of Assessment and Awards aim for the survey to be undertaken within the current academic year, and for the results to be analysed within a few months of its completion.
5 Alternative assessment arrangements Received
249. The International Academy’s Associate Director of Assessment and Awards reported on work with regard to alternative assessment arrangements.
250. Following an earlier recommendation of the Sub-Committee (see SNSC 2, Minutes 127–35), an Alternative Assessment Arrangements Working Group had now been established, and had met for the first time on 4th November.
251. The Working Group was intended to provide a forum for more in-depth discussion of alternative assessment arrangements than was possible within a Sub-Committee meeting, and also to open the discussion up to other individuals and stakeholders.
252. The first meeting of the Working Group had been intended as a relatively gentle introduction to its work, but in fact the discussion was wide-ranging and many action points were recommended. These recommendations were summarised in a brief written report which was presented to the Sub-Committee (Paper IPSC 2/3).
253. Much of the discussion had concerned International Programmes assessment arrangements generally, not just inclusive practice issues. While future discussions of the Working Group might well focus on inclusive practice, they were likely to at least touch on other areas, and Working Group members therefore recommended that their
discussions be reported to the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Sub-Committee as well as the Inclusive Practice Sub-Committee. 254. The Working Group’s principal finding so far was that there was scope
for innovation within the parameters of existing assessment policy, that is, retaining examination as the main means of summative
assessment. Given the controversy and difficulty that might attend any attempt to change formal assessment policy, the Working Group recommended that the International Programmes should aim to support innovation within existing policy parameters in the first instance.
255. The Working Group had identified a number of recommended actions in support of such innovation, as outlined in Paper IPSC 2/3.
256. That members be invited to comment on Paper IPSC 2/3 by email to the Associate Director of Assessment and Awards.
257. That a final version of Paper IPSC 2/3 and subsequent reports from the Working Group be passed to the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Committee as well as the Inclusive Practice Sub-Committee.
258. That the Associate Director of Assessment and Awards take the various recommendations of the Working Group forward and report back to the Sub-Committee at its next meeting.
MATTERS FOR REPORT
Report from the Inclusive Practice Manager Noted
259. The Inclusive Practice Manager gave an oral report on decisions taken regarding special arrangements and related developments since the Sub-Committee’s previous meeting.
260. Around 300 declarations of specific access requirements had been made by applicants or students since the previous meeting. Generally, declarations were now being made online through the SITS information system. It was not yet possible to give completely accurate statistics on the number of declarations because of some teething issues with the system that were still being resolved.
261. Around 200 of those declarations had been made since late September.
261. Not all people who declared specific access requirements actually needed special arrangements for learning materials or examinations. Many declarations were made at time of application, and some applicants would not be offered a place or would not progress to enrolment. However, every declaration prompted at least an initial follow-up contact from the Inclusive Practice Manager to investigate what arrangements, if any, might eventually be required.
262. The Inclusive Practice Panel had considered 45 requests for special arrangements since the Sub-Committee’s last meeting.
263. It was felt that there had probably been a slight year-on-year increase in requests for special arrangements. Any increase would at least in part be due to an overall rise in applications and registrations. It was hard to establish whether the proportion of requests had increased. In time, the SITS information system should allow for a fuller statistical picture on this and other issues – including, for example, whether special arrangements had been needed to address temporary or long-term requirements – but currently there was only limited data in the system, and further work was required to improve reporting
264. The Inclusive Practice Manager also noted that her role had transferred internally from the International Academy’s Corporate Performance and Quality directorate to the Assessment and Awards sub-directorate of the Student Services directorate. This did not constitute a change in her role, which included wide-ranging work on both policy development and operations, but should facilitate the large amount of work that she did in investigating, deciding and implementing special examination arrangements.
SITS Accessibility Manager information project Noted
265. The SITS Project Business Analyst responsible for Accessibility
Manager was unable to attend the Sub-Committee’s meeting, and sent her apologies. However, she had briefed the Secretary, who reported to the meeting on her behalf, and the meeting also had the benefit of input from a former member who was now also working on the SITS Project and who attended the meeting in that capacity.
266. As had been explained in previous reports, the SITS information system was being activated in several phases, and the functionality of the Accessibility Manager component was being extended phase by phase. The latest phase of the Project, Continuing Registration, had launched as planned at the beginning of September. Work on this for Accessibility Manager had included the migration of hundreds of records from the legacy information system containing data on students’ special arrangements for learning materials and
examinations, and there was ongoing work for the Inclusive Practice Manager in “cleaning” such migrated data as students interacted with the new system.
267. While Accessibility Manager was now being used for both Initial and Continuing Registration with some success, some issues with current functionality remained to be resolved.
268. Furthermore, the launch of Continuing Registration generally had caused an enormous increase in work for the SITS Project team and colleagues in the International Academy, with knock-on effects on some other work. In consequence, development of the Student Portal functionality of Accessibility Manager had been delayed. Whereas it had previously been hoped that it would be possible to demonstrate this at the Sub-Committee’s meeting, its development was now on hold until 2012.
269. It was noted that Student Portal functionality was a desirable rather than essential feature of Accessibility Manager, and so delay in implementing it did not disadvantage students.
270. Work was also underway to develop other aspects of Accessibility Manager, notably in relation to the Assessments phase of the project, to allow for the possibility of online examination entry launching in 2012.
271. The Business Analyst was meeting weekly with the Inclusive Practice Manager to monitor the system and resolve any reported issues. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Dates of forthcoming IPSC meetings, academic year 2011–12 272. The Sub-Committee noted the dates and times scheduled for its
remaining two meetings for the academic year:
• IPSC 3: Thursday 22 March 2012 at 10:00, Senate House room G35. • IPSC 4: Thursday 21 June 2012 at 10:00, Stewart House room STB5. Reserved items of business