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Visit from Ukraine partner university focuses on teaching inclusivity

Group of staff and students from Ukraine in a classroom

The University of Wolverhampton’s Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing, in collaboration with the Directorate of Students and Education, celebrated inclusive education and international collaboration recently when staff and students welcomed visitors from a partnership university from Ukraine. 

Nizhyn Mykola Gogol State University academics and teachers from Ukraine visited the University of Wolverhampton as part of a twinning collaboration, facilitated by a research grant entitled ‘Inclusive Education in Ukraine: exploring crisis possibilities, co-developing practice and supporting teachers’ that is supported by Universities UK International (UUKi) and funded by Research England.  

The project focuses on inclusive education in Ukraine, supporting pre-service teachers and teachers in considering what is possible for inclusive education during crisis and supporting development of inclusive education for children with Special Educational Needs and children with disabilities. The projects outputs include an open-access website that will house module content on inclusive education in Ukraine for pre-service teachers as a distanced learning package and content that can be used as part of Nizhyn Mykola Gogol State University pre-service teacher training.   

In August academics from the University of Wolverhampton and Nizhyn Mykola Gogol State University delivered inclusivity champion training to 10 Ukraine and 10 UK professionals that included academics, teachers, students, and teaching assistants.  Training content included findings from data collection carried out in 5 Ukraine school settings during May 2023, content on the historical development, current practical implementation and future aims for inclusive education in Ukraine and England and identifying and developing professional skills to be inclusivity champions.  

Group picture of visitors from UkraineAlex Forysthe, Dean of the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing, said: “This has been a special week for me as the Dean.  It has not just been about leadership or administration, but rather I have been focusing on fostering connections, bridging gaps, and championing meaningful change in education.  

“I have had the honour of my first ‘graduation ceremony’ as Dean, handing out certificates to an esteemed group of attendees from Nizhyn Mykola Gogol State University as a mark of honour for their dedication of an entire week, to the pivotal cause of Inclusive Education in Ukraine.  

“Our twinning collaboration, facilitated by the invaluable research grant from Universities UK International, has allowed us to pursue a vision that’s larger than any institution. The University of Wolverhampton has always prided itself on championing inclusive education, and this initiative exemplifies our commitment to that mission.  

“Together, our goal isn’t solely to elevate our educational practices but to infuse them with a spirit of inclusivity and diversity. It stands as a testament to the unmatched potential of collaboration and a united vision. Together, we are not just sharing knowledge but paving the future trajectory of education in Ukraine.   Together, we're not just aiming to improve our educational landscape but also enriching it with inclusivity and diversity.” 

Dr Yevhen Plotnikov, Head of Project Office at Nizhyn Mykola Gogol State University, said: “As a project leader from the Ukrainian side, it was truly inspiring for me to witness the transformation of our group of educators during their training in the UK. The journey was not just about crossing borders, but about breaking down barriers and embracing inclusivity. It was a privilege to witness their growth as they eagerly absorbed knowledge, shared experiences and made meaningful connections with their UK counterparts. Now, armed with fresh insights and renewed passion, our teachers are ready to make a lasting impact in their classrooms and communities. The success of this endeavour is a testament to the power of collaboration between Nizhyn and the University of Wolverhampton through the Twinning UK-UA initiative."    

Professor Diana Bannister, Director of the School of Education at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “This University twinning research project with our Centre for Research in Education and Social Transformation (CREST) is focusing on ‘inclusive education’ led by Dr Zeta Williams-Brown and Professor Megan Lawton.   

“In our collaborative meeting we shared some of the challenges that we face when we look at inclusive education and considered what we can do to make a difference. It was great to see some of our own students and doctoral researchers participating in the activities too. As part of this project we have had to recognise that Ukraine is dealing with inclusive education in crisis; but it is clear to see the resilience and strength of the team.  

“Above all, they lead with compassion and love for all of the children, young people and families they are working with.  There is a recognition of the importance of belonging and a realisation that the work that the Ukrainian teachers are doing now will make a better future. The collaborative partnership gives a real sense of hope for everyone.”    

Find out more about degree courses in the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing and visit one of our forthcoming Open Days. 


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