What does an Inclusive Learning Officer do?
Julie McHoul, Inclusive Learning Officer at Ayr Campus tells us all about her role and why she loves working with Ayrshire College.
Hi, I’m Julie. I’m an Inclusive Learning Officer. The main aspect of my role is to make students feel supported.
First of all, I do this by carrying out an initial needs assessment, which allows me to identify and develop learning strategies for individual students. The types of support we can then offer them range from assistive technology and assistive software, assessment arrangements and sometimes human support in classes, depending on the students’ health condition or disability.
I feel that Ayrshire College is a fantastic place to work - I’m personally loving the new hybrid approach. It’s taken us by surprise how effective it has been for students. I absolutely love working with students and seeing them reach their potential. We’re a very supportive team and there’s a great dynamic of different people that work here.
If you would like to access support from Inclusive Learning, you can either be referred from your application or you can get in touch directly with our team. The next step is to carry out an initial needs assessment with a member of our team, which is an opportunity for students to disclose and explain the difficulties they experience. Every student is different and requires different support, depending on the course they study and their learning environment.
Why It's A Rewarding Role
I recently supported a student who had a cochlear implant. The acoustics in the room were particularly important to this student and because of this they struggled to learn and engage in the class as they could not hear their lecturer clearly enough which resulted in losing information. From the needs assessment, I determined what kind of support would benefit this student the most. I was able to apply for a DSA (Disabled Students Allowance), which is additional funding that the Inclusive Learning Team can apply for, to remove barriers for students due to their learning disability or condition.
This allowed me to arrange additional support for the student. We made classroom adjustments by having a human note-taker in classes, as well as assistive listening technology, which is a receiver for the student which links to their cochlear implant, and their lecturer wore a transmitter. This created seamless listening for the student from the lecturer, as the student was then able to hear the lecturer exceptionally clearly, whether the lecturer turned away from the class to write on a board, for example. Any other background noise was blocked out for the student which resulted in them being able to engage in class more and enjoy their learning more. The students’ mental health also automatically improved.
Other Support We Offer
I would encourage students to contact Inclusive Learning as early as they can, even if they are unsure the impact their condition or disability could have on their learning experience. If the Inclusive Learning team are aware of the student, it allows us to continue checking in on them and offer support if they require it. Sometimes an unexpected life event happens, and students require support, or sometimes they have a relapse from an illness and require support.
Additionally, our team have times where students reach out to them who are unaware that they have a disability - perhaps students who have arrived at college straight from school that always felt they struggled. The Inclusive Learning Team can then carry out tests to determine if the student requires more support and this can be life-changing for them.
We are also available to support students who do not necessarily have a disability but require support in a different way. These could be students who perhaps struggled to learn at school or who missed a lot of school, due to moving around a lot or to bullying, for example. Once they get in touch with us, we would then carry out the needs assessment and arrange further support if required. Sometimes it can be as simple as finding out their learning style and showing them different strategies to learn.
I personally would advise any student at all to get in touch with the Inclusive Learning Team so that we can support them and make their student learning experience better.
You can get in touch with Inclusive Learning at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01294 555325.
Visit https://www1.ayrshire.ac.uk/students/student-support/inclusive-learning/ for more information.