14.06.2021 New Universal Design For Learning guidance published for Further Education and Training aiming to reduce the barriers to learning for all Learners

The Further Education and Training (FET) sector in Ireland should be aiming to reduce the barriers to learning for all learners across the entire Further education and training sector, rather than mitigating against them. That's according to SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, who are today (14.06.2021) launching new guidance for implementing Universal Design for Learning [UDL] in FET.

UDL is a set of principles and guidelines that aim to support all learners by using a variety of teaching methods to reduce barriers to learning. This means that inclusive teaching and learning approaches are built-in at design stage so that all learners' needs are addressed where possible. By applying the principles of UDL in FET programmes, accessibility, variability and the flexibility that addresses learners' strengths and needs are built-in, thereby accommodating most learners' preferences, differentiations, and variabilities.

SOLAS and Education Training Boards Ireland [ETBI] partnered with AHEAD, who work to create inclusive environments in education and employment for people with disabilities, to develop this guidance. Today, the guidance was launched by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD.

 Speaking today, Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, said: 

 "FET is available in every community in Ireland. It offers every individual, regardless of any previous level of education, a pathway to take them as far as they want to go. To enable this vision, 'Inclusion for all' must be at the heart of the Further Education and Training sector. In full recognition of this inclusive approach, the new Future FET: Transforming Learning Strategy (2020-2024) places inclusion as one of three key pillars, alongside skills and pathways. Developing and applying good practice guides and toolkits on inclusive practice across the system and the adoption of a universal design for learning (UDL) approach in shaping its future provision is a key priority of the Further Education and Training Strategy and the launch of this Universal Design for Learning guide, here today, delivers on this priority."

 Paddy Lavelle, CEO of Education Training Boards Ireland, said:

 “This guidance is really useful as a resource for Further Education and Training. There is a reorientation here where we realise that if we design learning experiences to ensure there are no barriers to participation by all learners, our services will be accessible from the outset. I am grateful to all who contributed to this publication and putting UDL in focus for FET.”

  Dara Ryder, CEO of AHEAD said:

Learners come to further education and training from a wide variety of backgrounds and circumstances, and bring a wide variety of ability and prior experiences to the table – it’s the strength of the sector and what makes it such a rich and diverse place to learn and work. The UDL approach recognises this variability and helps FET practitioners to reach everybody by building programmes and teaching practices that intentionally build in flexibility, accessibility and choice into their design. We all have barriers to learning, and UDL provides an evidenced based framework to help teaching practitioners to lower these barriers for everybody, but especially our diverse learners – whether that be those with disabilities, with low literacy skills or with other work and family pressures to juggle to name just a few.”

 Further information about SOLAS can be found here: www.solas.ie.


 Notes to Editors:

SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, a statutory agency under the aegis of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, was established in October 2013. Its role and functions are set out in the Further Education and Training Act, 2013. SOLAS is responsible for funding, coordinating, and providing strategic direction to Ireland's Further Education and Training sector. For more information, please visit www.solas.ie.  

Further information on SOLAS can be found at: www.solas.ie
Follow SOLAS on Twitter: @solasfet.