Laura Barlow is an Associate Solicitor in the Adult Brain Injury team at Bolt Burdon Kemp

#ThinkDifferently - Disabled students make up a significant proportion (around 14%) of the UK higher education population, but sadly, it has become apparent that disabled students found it more difficult to study in the 2019/20 summer term.

Teaching during this time was largely delivered online due to the coronavirus lockdown measures and this had a negative impact on disabled students, including students living with a brain injury.  

How are students with brain injury likely to be affected? 

A recent NUS survey found that out of the 29% of respondents who were receiving learning support, the disabled students felt less satisfied that they had received adequate support to enable them to work to the best of their ability. 

The survey didn’t look specifically at students with brain injuries, however, many of the issues that people with brain injuries commonly face will only have served to exacerbate the overall difficulties associated with studying during lockdown, including: 

Organisation and planning. Having a less structured day, for example, where course content is delivered in a format that is to be completed at a time that’s most convenient to the student, can throw students who have a brain injury off-track. Brain-injured people often find that having regular routines and schedules helps them to complete tasks. Without a schedule or set timeframes they can have real difficulty planning their days, and as a consequence they may feel disorganised and fall behind with work.  

Attention and information-processing. Lessons or interactive sessions that take place in an online video format may be very difficult for brain-injured students to follow. Brain injury very often results in slower information-processing and problems with attention and concentration. These difficulties present challenges even in person, but online, the problems can be much worse.  

Headaches, dizziness and fatigue. These symptoms are all commonly experienced by brain-injury survivors, and they can be exacerbated by spending more time than usual looking at a computer screen.  

Emotional difficulties. Irritability, frustration and anxiety are just a few of the emotional difficulties commonly experienced by people with brain injuries. Lockdown has been especially stressful for people with brain injuries and this can heighten the effects of their emotional difficulties, making it very difficult to study. 

How can brain-injured students be supported in the 2020/21 academic year? 

Education providers have an established duty, regardless of the ongoing pandemic, to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure disabled students can fully participate in education and other benefits, facilities and services provided for students (i.e. they are not to be discriminated against). 

The NUS survey respondents who received learning support said that they would like more individual support, regular contact and check-ins, more information about their course/options, more online provision and increased financial assistance.  

First and foremost, higher education institutions need to take time to listen to each brain-injured student’s individual circumstances, to understand the difficulties they face and to work out how best to facilitate their ongoing learning throughout the pandemic.  

Some strategies might include: 

  • Extra 1:1 or small group ‘in-person’ lessons/seminars (provided the particular student is comfortable with in-person learning. The NUS survey found that disabled students, along with international students and those with caring responsibilities, were more concerned about the risk of catching coronavirus on campus). 
  • Additional computer software and/or equipment to increase their accessibility to online learning 
  • The provision of suggested daily/weekly schedules for online learning to provide structure and routine 
  • Recording of live online lessons/seminars to allow repeat watching 
  • Allowing extra time for completing work 
  • Encouraging regular breaks from study to combat fatigue and anxiety 
  • Setting up buddy support system 
  • Facilitating professional emotional support 
  • Scheduling regular meetings to check-in and see if any further adjustments to support learning need to be considered. 

With the right planning, higher education providers can ensure that they are providing their brain-injured students with the best possible chance of a successful educational experience - throughout the pandemic and beyond.  

Laura Barlow is an Associate Solicitor in the Adult Brain Injury team at Bolt Burdon Kemp

You may also be interested in these articles:

Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page