Tuesday, 22 August, 2023 - 14:00
Inclusive Education for Students

Resources on Inclusive Education 

Inclusion is a concept in education most often associated with minority groups and people who experience disability, but in fact, inclusion is about everyone.

Inclusion means that every child has access to, participates meaningfully in, and experiences positive outcomes from early childhood education and care programs. Inclusion resources are an important part of how we support high quality early childhood education and care.

As teachers your students will mirror your language and behaviour towards all students, remaining equitable and inclusive is fundamental to changing community attitudes towards students with disability. We have already seen a shift in language where car parks, lifts and bathrooms are now appropriately described as accessible rather than the outdated use of disabled.

In a class of 38+ students on average you will encompass a range of abilities, cultural backgrounds, learning styles and educational needs. Teaching to maximise learning for the widest possible array of characteristics present within the student cohort creates an inclusive environment.

How Do You Create an Inclusive Teaching Environment?

The teaching environment continues to evolve and often with complex challenges to navigate. It is crucial to establish a climate that reflects high values and safeguards against discrimination. Open communication and engaging in respectful relationships mean you are demonstrating a positive appreciation of people, diversity, and their cultural values.

Students need to be provided with equal opportunity to learn and demonstrate their skill and knowledge. All students irrespective of disability status reaquire clear direction and information about their course requirements. We need to provide guidance regarding their rights and responsibilities, and advice about the learning and support options available to them. A safe welcoming environment encourages students to discuss any learning requirements or support needs which allows you greater insights into how you can best support and mentor them.

Encouraging students to share their experiences is often very helpful to understand and demonstrate that a disability or diversity should not be viewed as adversity. Hearing diverse perspectives can enrich a student’s learning by exposing everyone to stimulating discussions, expanding approaches to traditional and contemporary issues, and situating learning within students’ own contexts.

Inclusive teaching builds on the basic principle that all students are heard and that all students have a chance to participate fully in the learning process. This requires teachers to blend intrapersonal and interpersonal awareness, regular curriculum review, and updating knowledge of inclusive practices.

There are a wide variety of strategies available for teachers to help master inclusive teaching pedagogies.

Just considering why some students participate more frequently than others and how cultural assumptions might influence their learning can lead to a more tailored approach that incorporates all your students.

Examples include:

  1. Incorporating diverse perspectives into course content by expanding reading lists beyond white male authors, for example- offering various ethnic and racial perspectives in case studies, ensuring lecture examples offer a variety of human examples, and avoiding tokenizing particular individuals, students, or representations.
  2. Creating an inclusive classroom environment where all students are encouraged to participate by learning about students’ backgrounds and tailoring the approaches accordingly. Establishing ground rules for discussing controversial issues and developing (and helping students develop) deeper racial and socioeconomic awareness.
  3. Be mindful that not all students are well-versed in the nuances of being culturally appropriate or respectful particularly if you students are from traditionally under-represented backgrounds. Facilitating tough conversations in a transparency and understanding way encourages a mindset and attitude of acceptance despite difference.

A key aspect of equitable and inclusive teaching, in general, is recognizing and working with the diversity of your students so try to stay open minded, find different ways students can demonstrate their learning outcomes to you. A key feature of equity minded teaching is the acknowledgement that not all students are the same. Adapt your day-to-day teaching methods, while they may not follow the traditional methods, you may discover new ways of teaching that are both better for your students and more enjoyable for you.

This blog is in no way intended to be a comprehensive overview of resources or support strategies on inclusive education so below you will find additional reading links with up-to-date information relevant to the Australian context and guiding legislation on the topic.

National Resources on Inclusion

National agencies provide helpful resources for schools, including detailed information on inclusion of students with disability and additional needs, and how to approach planning for inclusion.

Meeting the needs of students with a disability (Australian Curriculum)

The Australian Curriculum website provides information on planning for students with disability as well as links to Australian state and territory jurisdiction websites. https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/resources/student-diversity/meeting-the-needs-of-students-with-a-disability

Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD)

The NCCD site provides an extensive set of resources for teachers about disability, including templates, video-based illustrations of practice, and case studies highlighting specific disabilities.