Dr Ben Whitburn is Associate Professor of Education at the Southampton Education School, University of Southampton, Highfield campus. Through research and teaching, Ben concentrates on heightening equity across educational sectors by reorientating theory, policy, and pedagogy towards affirmative engagements with diverse ways of being and knowing. With a particular interest in theorising inclusive education using critical disability perspectives, Ben draws on innovative and critical methodologies to develop and deliver programs of research and teaching that are centred on the voices of those affected by disability and other intersectional diversities who are subject to ongoing inequities.
To that end, Ben has generated a substantial body of published work addressing the policy sociology of educational inclusion across the sectors, which include the specific areas of inherent requirements (competence standards), personalised support, accessibility, resourcing and funding, temporalities of inclusion (crip time), curriculum design, pedagogy, and assessment. Ben also teaches course modules related to inclusive education, specifically in relation to knowing and relating to difference, interpreting evidence in context, inclusive curriculum and assessment design, and research frameworks.
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- Inclusive education -theory~practice
- Critical disability studies
- Student Voice
- Policy enactment
Ben’s research has been centred on inclusive education. A recent project has focused on diversifying professional practice, by examining the ways that inherent requirements, or competence standards, affect students of higher education. Drawing on an innovative methodology conceptually resourced by critical disability perspectives, the impact of this work is in the ways that HEIs develop statements of competence standards that are inclusive of diverse approaches to professional practice.
In the schooling sector, Ben's PhD by publication (conferred in 2015) concentrated specifically on the experiences of young people with disabilities in Australia and Spain. This transnational comparison drew extensively on students' perspectives to learn the effects of divergent policies and practices aimed at developing inclusive schooling systems, such as the provision of paraprofessional support, accessible resources, curriculum and pedagogies.
Ben supervises research students with aligned interests, including recently completed PhD students whose projects addressed intercultural competence of school leaders in Australia; educational psych reports in Australian schools; inclusive school community development in Vietnam; practices of secondary teachers in Indonesia; and policy development and enactment in early years learning in the Maldives.
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Ben’s approach to teaching is underpinned by a commitment to inclusivity as an ethical responsibility, aiming to improve student experience by accounting directly for holistic scholarly development, wellbeing and safety. Ben teaches directly in a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate modules pertaining to teacher training and researcher development. These include:
Special Educational Needs and Disability EDUC1042;
Supporting Additional Learning Needs: Critical Observation EDUC3037;
Inclusive Practices in Education EDUC6458
Understanding Education Research EDUC6353;
Prior to joining the University of Southampton, Ben was the program director of the Masters of Specialist Inclusive Education at Deakin University. Ben also has school experience, having taught blind and vision impaired students in an Australian school. TESOL has also featured in Ben’s teaching history, whereupon he taught English to teenagers and adults in Spain.
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Ben joined the University of Southampton in 2022, having held the position of Senior Lecturer of Inclusive Education at Deakin University in Australia from 2015-2022.
Graduate Certificate of Higher Education, Deakin University, 2017
Doctor of Philosophy, Deakin University, 2015
Master of Education, Griffith University, 2002
As a disabled scholar, Ben’s core interest in educational inclusion is centred on the ethics of being and relating to difference, in light of the emotional labour of living with the conditions that permit prevalent and deficit knowledge about disability and difference to persist within institutions of education. Ben finds generative potential in giving primacy to theoretical conceptions that support a proactive approach to difference, and the affordances of heterogeneous connections between students, accessible pedagogies and resources, technologies, smart devices, AI and alternative media, to transform education systems into the 21st century. It is from this angle, underpinned by principles of disability studies, Ben engages research and teaching, and he welcomes inquiries about research supervisions, collaborations, and knowledge exchange.
Ben is a member of the British Educational Research Association (BERA), and the Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE).
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