Many people are concerned about the concept of inclusive education.Inclusive education does not mean that mainstream schools and teachers are being asked to do something entirely new. Children in all schools are already very diverse. They cannot all learn the same things, in the same ways, in the same amount of time. Read the bullet points below and think about how you could explain this to people who are worried about inclusive education.
- Every class in every school contains children with a wide range of intellectual and physical abilities.
- Every class in every pre-school and every basic education school will contain children with have more difficulty in learning than most of their peers and some children whose ability to learn is ahead of their peers.
- Many children with some degree of difficulty with understanding, hearing, seeing, motor skills or social skills are currently attending mainstream schools
- Talented and gifted children are currently attending mainstream schools
- Teaching all children the same things, in the same ways, in the same amount of time is inappropriate. Good teaching means adapting what is taught and how it is taught to the different abilities and needs of different children. This is true for all teaching of all children.
- Inclusive education asks the education system and schools to open their doors to children who have some greater degree of difficulty with understanding, hearing, seeing, motor skills or social skills than many who are currently attending mainstream schools.
- To take down barriers to learning which many children are now facing, schools need to become better at adapting what is taught and how it is taught to the different abilities and needs of different children. This will be even more vital for children who might previously have attended a special school and who have some greater degree of difficulty with understanding, hearing, seeing, motor skills or social skills than many who are currently attending mainstream schools.
Children with disabilities are not all the same. Some children with a disability have average intellectual ability, although they will need particular support in order to achieve their potential. Some will be talented or gifted. Some will have limited intellectual development.
No teacher, however talented and committed, or however well trained, can teach a wide range of children effectively without support. Support can be provided through teaching materials, so that teachers can use different books, worksheets or other materials with different groups of children. Support can also be provided in the classroom or in the school, by a range of specialists. Support should come into the classroom or into the school to the child who needs it. It should be rare for a child to have to go out of the class or out of school to receive support from specialist services.
Teachers need to be trained to use different ways of teaching, different materials and different levels of work for different children in their classes. They also need to receive training on how to use specialist support services
Colleagues providing specialist support services need to change the ways in which they work if they are not already bringing their services to the child, rather than having the child come to them. Children should not be taken out of school in order to receive speech and language therapy, physical therapy or other support services.
Inclusive education does not mean that all children should go to mainstream schools. There will always need to be special schools for children whose disabilities are so severe that they need highly specialised teaching in adapted environments; for children whose behaviour difficulties are so challenging that they need a different regime in a different kind of environment.
Inclusive education benefits all children because the teaching is geared to individual difference, whether or not some children have a disability. It’s about every child receiving he support they need.