A case study of one partnership further education college in England and the experiences of visually impaired students.


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis presents a case study of one partnership further education college in England, illustrated by the individual experiences of visually impaired students. Partnership education can take many forms such as, specialist and mainstream schools being located within the same physical space or the sharing of resources such as staff and learning equipment. In England, research has shown that there is much to be gained by closer and more collaborative contact between special and mainstream education settings. Existing research has found that partnerships can and do promote inclusion of disabled students and discovered how they ensure the needs of disabled students are met effectively. However, previous research has generally focused on compulsory aged schooling. Therefore, best practices for the inclusion of visually impaired students in further education settings still needed to be adequately explored.

This study demonstrates that students’ experiences are uniquely different regardless of being educated in the same environment, and this is crucial in fostering inclusion for this group of students. Data were collected through participant observation and a research journal and represented in the form of an autoethnographic account. In addition, semi-structured interviews were used to collect participant experiences (students n=5, staff n=3). The data identified previous barriers to learning, for example over-supportiveness of staff and families, created by a range of social and environmental factors that limited inclusive activity and participation in both their education and wider society. However, their experiences were considerably more positive in partnership further education because it addressed the barriers mentioned above to learning through individualised, supportive, practical and collaborative methods. Therefore, this study proposes a new model of partnership further education based on the fundamental aspects of the college, as identified by participants in the research, that facilitate inclusion for the group of students involved in the research. As emphasised by the students and staff, these factors of partnership further education will improve teaching and learning in the sector, optimising experiences that visually impaired students have in such provision, provided that there is a partnership model to further education that embodies inclusion.
Date of Award5 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorJONATHAN GLAZZARD (Director of Studies) & CAROL DARBYSHIRE (Supervisor)


  • partnership
  • Further Education
  • visual impairment
  • special-mainstream

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