Beth Pickard's passion for working with children and young people with additional learning needs is fuelled by personal and professional experience, which continues to underpin and motivate her work: challenging the dominant medical model of disability.
After four years of part and full-time teaching, she is now teaching and challenging perspectives across a wide range of courses and disciplines. Becoming a Course Leader has been a vehicle for sharing her passion and worldview with others, whether staff or students, and of developing curricula which embed an affirmative approach to disability and the arts through mutually-informing community collaborations that set the foundations for extracurricular and sustainable, alumni partnership.
Impact of work
Recent projects include a collaboration between a local inclusive theatre company, a prestigious national arts venue, three local special schools and first year Creative and Therapeutic Arts students. The arts were a vehicle for meaningful, experiential learning about inclusive practice for everyone, as participants with disabilities became the expert and shared lived experience with students. The approach Beth promotes is transforming the world views of graduates and impacting positively on community and family groups working with these young people.
Beyond the course, her approach has had major impact across the University through a collaborative project with the Disability and Dyslexia Service (DDS): they have recognised a challenge to student engagement in the barriers posed by complexity of written information, and challenged this systemic norm by creating an accessible infographic, supporting students with specific learning difficulties to engage with the valuable provision DDS can offer. This is a further example of recognising students with disabilities as the experts in their own experiences, and enabling their valued voices to shed light on creative solutions to the challenges they may face.
Plans for the future
These recent examples of pedagogic practice build on a longstanding commitment to challenging the dominant medical model of disability, an area of research interest which she enjoys exploring and disseminating nationally and internationally. Beth's ongoing commitment to clinical and community practice through person-centred music therapy continues to inform and challenge the development of her worldview and scholarly activity.