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OU Social Work student appointed as co-researcher on BME inclusive curriculum project

Kamal Ibrahim, OU Postgraduate Social Work Student

Kamal Ibrahim, a postgraduate Social Work student at The Open University in Scotland, has been appointed as a co-researcher on a new OU research project.

The ‘Developing Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Student-Designed Inclusive Modules’ project aims to gather reflections on the shared and lived experiences of individuals from BME groups in the OU student community.  The findings of the project will be used to enhance inclusivity in the OU’s Health, Wellbeing and Social Care (HWSC) curriculum, and beyond.

Having already completed an MA in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights and with a PhD in Social Policy, Kamal was working as a tutor when he decided to enrol on the OU’s professionally qualifying Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work.

I have always had an inherent desire to help those in need, and to make a difference in the lives of individuals as well as groups. I realised that the only thing preventing me from becoming a full-time lecturer in Social Work is a Social Work qualification. I opted to study with The Open University because of the flexibility of the programme, the OU’s reputation for quality, and the competitively priced fees. I have a young family, and my wife too is studying for her PhD, so the flexibility that the OU brings is just perfect for our needs as a family,” says Kamal.

The OU’s Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work is delivered through a combination of tutor-supported online distance learning and practice-based learning, providing the flexibility to fit study around work and personal commitments. Kamal’s first practice placement took place between September and December 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Kamal gaining experience working directly with children and families while adapting to innovative new approaches in social work practice.

While studying, Kamal heard about the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care’s BME Student-Designed Inclusive Module research project. Keen ultimately to get back into academia, Kamal jumped at the chance to get involved; “I thought I could make a meaningful contribution to the project given my background, academic experience and exposure. I was particularly drawn to the specific aims and objectives of the project – that is, seeking to listen to the views of students of BME background on relevant issues that might impact on their learning experiences to develop a more inclusive curriculum. For me personally, the project offers another opportunity to gain experience that will be useful for my future career.” Kamal is currently working with the Multi-Cultural Family Base in Edinburgh.

Dr Jenny Douglas, Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion and lead on the project, said “We need to design modules that are relevant and accessible for all of our students. One way to do this is to co-produce modules with our BME students. In this project we are involving Kamal as student co-researcher to ensure that the research we undertake with BME students is meaningful.”

Paulette Johnson, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for HWSC and an OU Social Work Staff Tutor, said “We’re very pleased to have Kamal working with us on this project, which will help develop a more inclusive curriculum in Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, designed with insight from OU students with lived experience of being from a BME group. Our hope is that the findings will also inform other areas of module design at the OU.”

Read more about research in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, or if you’re interested in a career in social work, find out more about our undergraduate and postgraduate routes to qualifying as a Social Worker.

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