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Practicing Inclusive Education: Co-creating Open Spaces for Learning

A project coordinated by the University of Warwick and University College Birmingham

Project Context & Aims

This project has brought together teaching and learning communities at UCB and Warwick to share practice in inclusive education, with a specific focus on co-creation between staff and students. Through a series of hybrid workshops, staff and student co-creators have been invited to learn from different approaches to inclusion through practical teaching and co-curricular activities. The project was initially funded by WIHEA through their External Collaborations Fund in 2021/22 as a high-level collaboration between Jonathan Heron (with Dan Derricott) and Devinder Rana-Rai (with Elaine Penn), leading to the formation of a project advisory group which includes Rebecca Freeman (Dean of Studies, Warwick), Alice Wilby (PVC Access, Participation and Student Experience, UCB), Chih-Hsiang Lo (Warwick SU) and various members of the UCB Student Guild. The Advisory Group supported our decision to extend the pilot project into 2022/23 and the project team will disseminate their work at both institutional Inclusion Conferences in June 2023.

The project team has facilitated five workshops (two online and three face-to-face) for academic and professional colleagues across the two institutions between March 2022 and April 2023. This has involved the development of a community of practice and the instigation of five working groups:  

  • Anti-Racist Practice/Race Equity Training (ongoing)
  • Embedding Wellbeing in the Curriculum (paused in 2023)
  • Community Values/Student Engagement (ongoing)
  • Inclusive Assessment/Diversification of methods (ongoing)
  • Queer/Trans Inclusive Pedagogies (new in 2023) 

Project Impact

By the end of the project, the team will have engaged 23 staff and seven students as project participants, as well as 50-100 colleagues through collaborative events such as the Inclusion conferences. The collaborative pairings between staff and students from different subject areas has been a uniquely interdisciplinary feature of the project, generating some transferable practices in inclusive education.  

For example, the Community Values group have hosted an ‘Human Library’ event in May 2023, and the Queer/Trans group are planning to co-create an inclusive photographic resource to promote a more diverse representation of student identities. These outcomes are necessarily intersectional in approach, and these initiatives may need additional support to achieve further impact at university level. 

Project Team

Universities in collaboration: University of Warwick and University College Birmingham

Professor Jonathan Heron (IATL), Warwick

Project Lead

Dr Devinder Rana-Rai (Director of Inclusive Curriculum and Higher Education Quality), UCB

Project Lead


Dan Derricott (EPQ), Warwick

Prof Elaine Penn (PVC, Curriculum, Learning & Teaching), UCB

Prof Alice Wilby (PVC, Access, Participation and Student Experience), UCB

Student co-creators

Jay Henri, UCB

Chanelle Douglas, UCB

Aisha Sameer Dharward, UCB

Asmaa Elsouda, Warwick

Sara Lovecka, Warwick

Meliha Hussain, Warwick