Online ExpertTrack in Teaching

Inclusive Education: Understanding Special Educational Needs

Gain vital insights and perspectives to help you provide more inclusive support for children with special educational needs.

Created by

The Open UniversityThe Open University

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Develop skills to provide inclusive support for children in care and education

This ExpertTrack from The Open University explores the changing perspectives on the care and education of children described as having special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND).

Over 15 weeks, you’ll develop your understanding of inclusion and gain key skills to recognise and meet children’s changing needs in a range of educational and care settings for those aged from 0-12 years old.

Learn how historical approaches have shaped current practice

You’ll gain insights into how the past has shaped current responses to SEND, including the use of language, labels, and legislation.

You’ll reflect on how perspectives have evolved and shaped today’s global drive towards quality inclusive education for all babies and children.

Explore theory and legislation relating to additional needs

You’ll learn about the concepts of inclusion and inclusive practice within the UK, considering barriers to inclusivity in schools and other education settings and how you can overcome them in your own context, wherever you are in the world.

Looking at different models of SEND, you’ll consider how these may influence your own responses to individual children.

You’ll also cover relevant UK legislation, and the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and how this is implemented in practice.

Look through the lens of children and their families

Throughout the courses, you’ll hear from children living with SEND to relate learning to real-life situations. Their stories will deepen your understanding of how they see their own needs and demonstrate how every child is unique.

Gain practical skills to better support children with additional needs

You’ll explore conditions including communication and interaction needs, cognition and learning differences, social, emotional, and mental health needs, and sensory or physical needs.

Furthermore, you’ll gain critical knowledge about ways to identify, assess, and plan to meet the needs of children, including how to engage with families and professionals. You’ll also explore cultural and linguistic differences and how they impact and influence care and education.

Learn from experts in inclusion and special educational needs

This ExpertTrack has been created by leading academics at The Open University, known for their inspiring teaching in inclusive education and their research to influence practice, policy, and debate worldwide.

By the end, you’ll have the skills to respond effectively to the needs of a diverse range of children, creating environments and opportunities in which they feel included.

Key skills you will learn

  • Identify strategies to support individual children
  • Communication and collaboration with parents, carers and other professionals
  • Intercultural understanding
  • Appreciation of difference and diversity
  • Applying ideas into everyday practice

Learning outcomes

By the end of the ExpertTrack, you’ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of historical perspectives on contemporary approaches to inclusion in schools and other educational contexts
  • Demonstrate knowledge of current policies and procedures for the identification and assessment for children described as having special educational needs and/or disability
  • Reflect on inclusion within educational contexts and how to engage successfully with children, parents, carers and other professionals
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the uniqueness of each child’s needs

Experience required

You don’t need any prior experience to join this course. It would be particularly suitable for:

  • Those working or volunteering in care and education settings
  • Anyone seeking a career in supporting children or aspiring to be teachers
  • Parents and carers of children described as having special educational needs and/or a disability

To be successful on the course, you should be willing to engage with reading material and be prepared for your thinking to be challenged. The skills you gain will be useful for learners across the globe.

Getting started

The ExpertTrack is designed to develop knowledge and skills to support babies and children under the age of 12 with SEND in care and educational contexts.

It’s particularly relevant for those who want to understand past and present approaches to inclusion in schools and other educational settings; learn about policy and procedures relating to identifying, assessing and supporting children with SEND; and those who are interested in developing their understanding of children’s rights and perspectives.

ExpertTrack course overview

Prove you're job ready

Highlight the new, job-relevant skills you’ve gained and supplement existing qualifications with a hard-earned, industry-specific digital certificate – plus one for every course within your ExpertTrack.

  • Learn the latest in your chosen industry or subject.
  • Complete each course and pass assessments.
  • Receive certificates validated by the educating organisation.
  • Impress employers with learning outcomes you can add to your CV.
  • Make your career dreams a reality.

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How ExpertTracks work

Join an ExpertTrack to master new skills in your chosen specialist area. Work through a series of topic-focused courses at your own pace, and pass the final assessment to earn a digital certificate award which proves your expertise.

Join a free 2-day trial

Decide if the ExpertTrack is right for you with free access to the full suite of courses and assessments for a week.

Keep learning for $39/month

Pay a monthly subscription fee of $39 for as long as it takes you to complete the ExpertTrack. You can learn at your own pace and cancel at any time.

Earn digital certificates

Receive a certificate for every completed course and pass the final assessment to earn a digital certificate.

Become an expert

Use your specialist training to progress further in your career or build expertise in areas you’re passionate about.

World-class learning with The Open University

As the UK’s largest university, The Open University (OU) supports thousands of students to achieve their goals and ambitions via supported distance learning, helping to fit learning around professional and personal life commitments.

  • Established

  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Meet your instructors

I am an early years consultant and lecturer. I own a small group of private day nurseries. I am really interested in special educational needs, inclusion. I have two sons and three grandchildren.

Kathryn is an educational consultant who has been working in education for over 10 years. Kathryn is completing her PhD in inequalities and inclusion in education and is a teacher specialising in SEN.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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After your free trial you can:

  • Pay $39 per month to keep learning online
  • Have complete control over your subscription; you can cancel any time
  • Work at your own pace and set your own deadlines at every stage
  • Only pay while you’re learning; the subscription will cancel automatically when you finish
  • Complete online assessments to test your knowledge and prove your skills
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  • Keep access to the content of courses you complete even after your subscription ends


ExpertTracks are a series of online courses designed to help you master new skills in specialist areas. You pay a monthly subscription fee which includes access to all courses within the ExpertTrack, as well as assessments and the final digital certificate.

Each ExpertTrack comes with a 2-day free trial period. You may cancel your subscription at any time and your subscription will automatically cancel when you finish the courses and assessments in your chosen ExpertTrack.

Yes. All of our ExpertTracks come with a 2-day free trial. You may claim one free trial period per ExpertTrack.

You have two days before you will be charged your first monthly subscription fee. When you join an ExpertTrack you automatically receive a 2-day free trial period. You can cancel at any time during the trial period and no payment will be taken from your account.

Please see our full refund policy here.

No, all of our ExpertTracks consist of fully online courses. This means you can take an ExpertTrack from anywhere in the world.

No. ExpertTracks are designed for you to master new skills in a specialist area. You will earn a digital certificate that proves your learning, but it does not carry accreditation.

If you’re looking for certified or accredited courses, many of our microcredentials offer university credit or professional certification.

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