What Does Inclusive Education Really Look Like?

Inclusive education is based on the view that all children should have equal access to educational opportunities. Inclusivity is considered a basic human right, as enshrined in Article 24 of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

According to the inclusive model of education, students with disabilities and learning challenges should be taught in mainstream classrooms whenever possible and enjoy the same benefits as other students.

Studies have found that the positive effects of inclusion flow to all students, not just those with special needs. It can be difficult for schools to achieve genuine inclusivity due to many issues, including funding and resources. When schools do get the balance right, the results are amazing. 

An inclusive classroom is defined by a sense of:

Acceptance 

In the inclusive classroom there is acceptance and celebration of diversity. Students learn that everyone is equal regardless of their beliefs, culture, gender, disabilities or learning challenges.

Inclusive classrooms are less likely to have issues with bullying and conflict. Students help each other and there is a sense of belonging for everyone.

Support 

In an inclusive classroom all students feel safe and supported. They receive encouragement and help from teachers and other students. The classroom is a place where they can take risks and be open and honest.

Aides are available to help, and teachers are aware of students’ individual learning styles and needs. They use a variety of learning techniques and assessments to meet these needs. 

Cooperation 

Along with acceptance and support comes cooperation. An inclusive classroom is very collaborative with teachers and aides working together to plan lessons and activities. Students participate in group work and all contribute.

Inclusive education is based on the idea that everyone can benefit and learn from each other. It’s through collaborative projects that students learn valuable lessons about cooperation, understanding and empathy.

Excellence 

Expectations are high in inclusive education, but achievable. Students are encouraged to be their very best and given the support to get there. 

The inclusive model is based on the recognition that students have individual strengths and goals, and that success for one student will be different for another. There are no limiting labels because inclusive education is not a one-size-fits all approach to learning.

Flexibility 

Inclusive educators can adapt quickly to students’ changing needs. This might mean modifying the classroom to ensure students are comfortable or switching learning strategies when something is not working. 

The classroom is a place of continuous growth for teachers who know they have much to learn from students. They are open to fresh ideas and keep up to date with evidence-based teaching strategies. 

Agency 

Students have platforms to express themselves and they feel like they have a voice. They are given choices so they can learn how to make responsible decisions. 

Parents are supported and heard at schools which value inclusion. They receive frequent updates and are made to feel like a valued part of the school community.

Engagement 

Inclusive educators recognise that learning should be enjoyable and fulfilling. Their goal is to create students who love to learn and who seek out new learning experiences.

When the principles of inclusion are adhered to, students are highly engaged and motivated. These students love coming to school and want to share their knowledge and education with others.

Everyone stands to benefit from inclusive education. With commitment and resources this can be achieved.

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