23 Sep 2016
Every day around the world many children are unable to join schools and sit in the same classes as their neighbours and friends. The reason they are unable to do so could be poverty, language, race, gender or disability. This is where inclusive education and schools step in. Where there is no separation general education and special, and everyone has an equal opportunity to learn together.
A healthy society is responsible to ensure that each child gets the support from the community to learn and develop and go to a school which welcomes them. When students learn together regardless of their differences, society benefits as a whole.
What is inclusive education?
Inclusive education is making it possible for students with the diverse need to learn along with other children. It enables students with diverse backgrounds and needs to become the part of the school like any other student. No student is barred from education because of their needs.
Inclusive education values diversity and the uniqueness of every student. In a true inclusive education, everyone feels safe and has a sense of belonging. Students and their parents participate in setting learning goals and take part in decisions that affect them. To implement inclusive learning, schools must adopt inclusive education. This is providing support, flexibility, and resources to nurture, encourage, and respond to the needs of all students.
Why is inclusive education important?
Inclusive education is a system that provides a comprehensive education for all children and is an important step in changing discriminatory attitudes in education. Schools are stepping stones for children, they provide the first relationship with the world outside their families. They enable the development of social relationships and interactions. Respect and understanding grow when students of diverse abilities and backgrounds play, socialize, and learn together.
How can schools adapt to inclusive education?
Schools play an important role in the lives of the students. One of the key responsibilities they have is to provide a safe and welcoming classroom to their students. Classrooms should be a place where the student should not feel left out but should feel like they are all here to learn. When such atmosphere is present in the classroom, the impact outside the classrooms will be clear, the adults of tomorrow will be accepting, encouraging, tolerant and above all aware of the needs of people around them.
School’s management can use the following steps to implement Inclusive education in the classroom.
Understanding current practices
To start inclusive education system teachers must first understand the demographic of the school. Understanding that will help teachers to identify what needs to be changed.
Questions like “does the school have any students with disabilities, learning difficulties?” etc, “do we have processes to protect and help them?”, “do we have specialists who understand and champion the removal of barriers to learning?”. All these questions help in understanding what if any challenges the school faces.
Making a leadership team
The next step toward the implementation of inclusive education is to create a leadership team in the school. The leadership team will be tasked to implement inclusive education in school.
The team should meet regularly to discuss and to review the impact of changes made. During these meetings, the team should measure the and review the practices and procedures used in school. If they have made any changes or suggested any, how far has it progressed? These meetings will help them review the staff efforts.
Moreover, during the implementation of inclusive education in schools is going to encounter challenges. The leadership team would help the staff, students and parents to overcome these challenges. It is very important to have a clear leadership for the structuring of inclusive learning.
Plans must keep the school-wide goals in mind. As making plans would not just be enough, they must be put to action and for that to happen it is important that everyone is on board with the plan, and goals are achieved.
After plans have been made by the leadership team, the next step is to implement them. For effective implementation, the plans and decision must be made in specific areas. The key is to approach towards to the goal of inclusive education is moving step by step.
The leadership should use objectives from the goals broken down so that the school can start focusing on the identified areas. Measuring success by collecting data and reviewing outcomes helps to gauge the effectiveness of changes.
Provide professional development
Teachers professional development is important for any educational practice. This ensures that the staff has the critical skills to deliver what is expected of them. Similarly, for inclusive learning, it is also very important to have professional development for the staff.
This professional development will come in the form of training that will allow them to learn about co-teaching, identifying needs, consultancy and how to implement them. Proper training will allow the staff to develop practices to provide the support and deliver their responsibilities accurately.