Podcast aimed at supporting disabled students highlighted at NEON conference 

I was delighted to give a presentation at this year’s NEON conference about a pioneering podcast that Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) co-produced to support disabled students.

The One in Five podcast series was created by disabled students, for disabled students who are thinking about going to university. It covers a range of topics based on their lived experience including getting a disability diagnosis and support available from HE providers for disabled students. 

I presented ‘The One in Five Podcast’ alongside Joni Chase (FE Development Manager, Kent and Medway Progression Federation (KMPF)) and Jessica Touminen (STAART Ambassador, University of Greenwich) to talk about the power of partnership working and technology in relation to creating student led outputs. Our session focused on the value of technology to enable partnership working across the nation, reducing duplication and enhancing partner networks.  

NEON welcomed the proposal of our session, asking us to extend the initial presentation to become a more in-depth laboratory session due to the level of collaboration in practice. 

After three years of working independently to reduce the gap for Disabled Learners, two Uni Connect partnerships (KMPF and GHWY) are now collaborating with UniTasterDays to produce a student-led podcast for this underrepresented group.  

Previous attempts to create tangible outputs (such as campus visits) for disabled learners often failed due to the unique requirements of this group. The One in Five podcast has created opportunities for young people from SEND backgrounds to voice their opinions on the higher education support systems available to future generations. This supports the growing demand for student voice when designing strategic outreach activity whilst also identifying tangible outputs on relatable and modern platforms for student engagement. 

The ‘One in Five’ podcast has now been created to function as a collaborative output to create a tangible resource for disabled students on a national scale (shared across 29 Uni Connect partnerships). This example demonstrates the power of collaboration, reducing the potential for duplication between partnerships, highlighting our ability to create core content as Uni Connect partnerships which can be further localised within our networks. 

The role of technology is essential towards developing innovative practice on relatable platforms for young people. The One in Five Podcast highlights the potential of technology when creating student-led initiatives, offering a new approach when targeting learners and stakeholders from underrepresented backgrounds in higher education. This type of activity output can be shared on a national scale, allowing students to access higher education support from the comfort of their own home. 

This project has developed a new approach towards working with disabled learners and has simultaneously resulted in increasing the personal development opportunities of the students involved. For example, working alongside an established provider (UniTasterDays) has allowed students to learn from the professionals and increase career prospects within this field. 

I enjoyed open discussions with attendees of our session, unpacking common themes faced by disabled learners and sharing best practice to learn from expertise within the room. 

Listen to the podcast series.


John Hague, GHWY Area Manager