Aberdeen professor outlines pioneering education research at the White House

A University of Aberdeen professor will give a presentation in the White House today (Tuesday May 10) sharing important educational research carried out at the institution as the United States prepares to reauthorise its Elementary and Secondary Education Act and considers how teachers should best be prepared to enter the profession.

Professor Lani Florian from the School of Education will be describing research and development that has taken place in the University of Aberdeen in briefings held in the White House and both Houses of Congress in Washington DC.

Professor Florian is co-author, with American colleagues Linda Blanton and Marleen Pugach, of a new policy briefing report, Preparing General Education Teachers to Improve Outcomes for Students with Disabilities, sponsored by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).

The groundbreaking report highlights the importance of reforming teacher education to bring about better outcomes for students with disabilities and learning difficulties, a challenge that is faced in many countries.

The report addresses these challenges by outlining a vision for teacher education that builds on current developments, including lessons from the Inclusive Practice Project at the University of Aberdeen.

The Inclusive Practice Project at Aberdeen was designed to develop new approaches to training teachers to ensure that they have a greater awareness and understanding of the educational and social problems that can affect children’s learning and as well as developing strategies they can use to support and deal with such difficulties. 

Staff in the School of Education have made major changes to the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) for primary and secondary teachers to ensure that social and educational inclusion is addressed within the core programme.

The Project which began in 2006 was funded by the Scottish Government and its research findings have already informed policy debates at the national, European (European Agency for Development of Special Needs Education) and international (UNESCO) level.

Professor Florian, Professor of Social and Educational Inclusion at the University of Aberdeen, who also spoke at the Whitehouse on Monday, said: “I am delighted that work carried at in the School of Education is being recognised internationally. It is a great honour to be invited to speak to White House and Congressional staff about our research and development work.  Hopefully, the lessons from Aberdeen will have some impact on the ways in which teachers are trained in the United States in future”

Professor Florian has published extensively on teacher education and inclusion and is co-author of Achievement and Inclusion in Schools, published by Routledge, (winner of the 2008 NASEN/Times Education Supplement academic book award). She edited The SAGE Handbook of Special Education (2007) and co-edited Disability Classification in Education: Issues and Perspectives, published by Corwin Press in 2008.