Teacher Tips > What is Inclusion?

What is Inclusion?

Teacher Tips

Inclusion is the practice by (most) schools of including everybody in the learning environment, and is particularly relevant to children and teenagers with disabilities being educated in regular schools. The idea is that schools should adapt to the needs of individual pupils, rather than pupils adapting to the needs of the school. The overall aim is to create an inclusive learning environment that caters for everyone.

An inclusive education claims to provide a well-rounded, complete education to all students. Having children of differing ethnicity, gender and race educated together in the same school prepares them for real life where all different kinds of people live and work alongside each other in society. Diversity is seen as a positive aspect rather than a problem. This makes learning fulfilling and effective, as well as encouraging children to think of everyone as equals and socialize with all groups.

Learners with disabilities can benefit from being in a normal classroom atmosphere. It creates for them a feeling of belonging and being involved in what everyone without disabilities is, rather than being segregated, which leaves them lonely and unmotivated. Whether the student is placed in a normal classroom or not, an individual learning plan must be carefully formed - therefore there is no reason for the student not to be in the classroom.

Inclusion is not about mainstreaming disabled students who are thought to be 'ready' for regular school - it's about the right of all students to be able to learn at the school of their choice regardless of ability. Every school has the duty to provide an education for any child. No one should be forced to attend a 'special' school.

However, inclusion is about more than simply placing a child in a classroom and letting them get on with it. The child must be happy and comfortable; able to participate in classroom activities alongside other children whilst receiving an education specially tailored to their needs. In the same way that each and every pupil's unique abilities and talents are appreciated, so must each and every pupil be appreciated for their unique values and background. Everybody is different.

There are critics of inclusion - some educators and parents believe some children don't have the ability to learn alongside other students and require individual help outside the classroom in a highly controlled environment. Similarly, some teachers don't have the capability to teach children with special needs as well as a class full of other pupils. Many parents worry other students will be distracted from their learning by the placement of a disabled student, or a child with serious inattention problems who may disrupt the class.

Overall, inclusion is being welcomed as a positive concept to be introduced into education. School can be restructured in such a way so that they are able to provide a good education for all young people, whilst diversifying classrooms, which helps to develop students socially. It should only be in exceptional circumstances that any child can't participate in a regular education.

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