Why is inclusive teaching and learning important?

Video: Why is inclusivity important?

If you have a one size fits all and expect everyone to be able to do the same thing, and talk to them in the same language and not think about different people’s needs then some people are going to find that a struggle.

Our collection of subtitled videos contains information and advice about teaching and learning inclusively.

It is a social/political/ethical responsibility - for you to treat your colleagues and students fairly and for them to treat you fairly in return. Creating vibrant and critical discussion in the classroom requires you to foster open and respectful environments in order that such discussions can take place. Listen to our student experience videos to consider the positive impact teaching inclusively may have on student learning.

It is your legal requirement - The Equality Act (2010) which applies across employment, education and the provision of services, outlaws direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of the protected characteristics including age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender reassignment, religion/belief and sexual orientation. The act also requires public authorities, including universities, to take positive steps to promote equality across all their activities. These steps, such as the production of equality and diversity policies, commit all members of the university to acting inclusively.

It complies with Plymouth University’s equality and diversity policy - which aims to create an inclusive and harmonious place of work and study. This policy states that it is the responsibility of all employees to act inclusively by supporting and implementing equality and diversity. The equality, diversity and inclusion web pages provide more information on equality and diversity policies.

It is a key part of Plymouth University strategy - the 2020 strategic plan from which all faculties and schools derive their strategic leadership ‘aims to stimulate a friendly, open and inclusive working and learning environment where people feel valued and respected’. Furthermore, the Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Strategy 2013-2020 specifically aims to 'develop inclusive learning and assessment opportunities that meet the needs of diverse learners through flexible learning and assessment options’. This feeds into the Assessment Policy 2014-20 which states that assessment at Plymouth should ‘help students to perform to the best of their abilities through assessment that is inclusive’.


Things are changing in funding for disabled students - from 2016, the Disabled Students Allowance, which funds additional support and resources for our disabled students, including note-takers and specialist software, will change considerably. Universities will be expected to take more responsibility for supporting students with mild difficulties by creating a more inclusive learning environment, as part of their duties to provide reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act. Contact Disability Services for more information about student funding.

A commitment to equal access forms the basis of university teaching funding - Plymouth University’s Access Agreement which sets out how increased tuition fee income will be offset by scholarships and support so as not to disadvantage under-represented students in higher education. This policy states that Plymouth University will ensure that all students are enabled to gain access to and benefit from higher education provision and opportunities before, during and after graduating. A significant amount of teaching income is therefore premised on the provision of a teaching environment that includes and supports all studentsSee the widening participation web pages for more information on how Plymouth University supports otherwise under-represented groups to successfully progress to higher education.

It is likely to influence research funding through equality benchmarks - Plymouth has received the Athena SWAN award which recognises good practice in advancing the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM). Awards such as this are becoming compulsory for receiving external funding in some areas and all research councils (RCUK) require applicants to evidence their commitment to equality and diversity issues. Although this focuses on staff, rather than students, it recognises that a commitment to inclusivity in higher education is directing the research agenda, as well as teachingTo learn more about equality benchmarks, read about Plymouth University's Athena SWAN award.