The simple answer to the question is that inclusive practice is best practice! To be truly inclusive is to create an environment where all learners feel safe, valued, and have a sense of belonging. And who better to draw inspiration from than our new Executive Director of EREA – Dr Craig Wattam who in his 2021 Welcome Message highlighted the importance for all schools to “…commit to providing an education for young people where they are safe, where their voices are heard and where the development of well rounded whole human beings is paramount.”
What are the Benefits of Inclusion?
• Research shows that inclusion has positive short and long-term effects for all students – intellectually, emotionally and socially
• Diversity in the classroom allows for tailored teaching and differentiated instruction that is helpful for all students
• Inclusion creates conversation about how everyone learns differently which in turn creates a culture of respect and empathy
• All students benefit from the resources available in an inclusive classroom
Whilst many schools are still working through the process of implementing systematic change around inclusion, at ATC our Whole School Approach to Inclusion has become part of our school culture and is embedded in pedagogical practices that allows all students equitable access to the curriculum.
Equality Versus Equity
It is important to note at this point the difference between equality and equity. A popular image (above) that circulates around in Education, particularly Inclusive Education, is a series of three images that make some obvious assumptions about levels of support. In the first image everyone is being treated ‘equally’ and it is assumed that everyone will benefit from the same support. The middle image shows everyone is being treated ‘equitably’, where each person given the right amount of support, can access at the same level. But my favourite image is the last one, which demonstrates when you remove the obstacle or barrier that created the inequity in the first place, there is less need for accommodations and support, and more focus on providing opportunities for all learners to access at their own level.
What is Our Whole School Inclusion Plan at ATC?
ATC’s Whole School Inclusion Plan is about creating change at a system level and supports all staff at the College to remove some of the barriers that create inequities in the classroom. At ATC we recognise a diverse student population and celebrate these differences by creating opportunities for all boys in all areas of school life. Ms Lara Morgan, Dean of Learning, drove the implementation of the Whole School Inclusion Plan at ATC and in 2019 all staff were supported to engage with and work with the supports within the framework – with a specific focus throughout different points of the year. This framework continues to be a point of reference for all teachers and is embedded in our pedagogical practices to ensure that all learners have equitable access to the curriculum and are supported as whole learners. Some examples:
Bowling as a Metaphor For Inclusion in the Classroom
Shelley Moore is a highly sought-after teacher, researcher, consultant and storyteller and her research and work has been featured at national and international conferences. If you click on the link below it will take you to a great video where Shelley uses the metaphor of inclusion in the classroom being much like bowling. A very simple, yet effective metaphor that will definitely get you thinking the next time you are at the bowling alley!