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MEP learning pack

Masters in Educational Practice: Special educational needs and inclusion learning pack


Impact of the environment

This topic will consider how the environment impacts upon learning. The impact of the environment can’t be over-emphasised and was first acknowledged by Mary Warnock in 1978 (p. 41).

In very broad terms, special educational need is likely to take the form of the need for one or more of the following:

  • The provision of special means of access to the curriculum through special equipment, facilities or resources, modification of the physical environment or specialist teaching techniques.
  • Particular attention to the social structure and emotional climate in which education takes place.

Environmental factors which have an impact on learning will be illustrated by drawing on two theoretical frameworks – Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs and Bronfenbrenner’s ecological framework. Policy frameworks which are relevant to this topic are many and varied, and will be referred to throughout the topic.

Behaviour as a response to the environment and as a means of communication will be considered as a key feature (with links made to the ‘Behaviour management’ learning pack). The underachievement of specific groups will be considered. The topic will close with a consideration of what influences achievement in the classroom. Activities will include the use of the two theoretical frameworks, reflective questions and a checklist for visible learning.


  • to understand and be aware the key factors that affect children and young people’s learning and well-being
  • to use a range of strategies to promote good behaviour and create a purposeful learning environment
  • to promote the well-being of children and young people.
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