Inclusive Education and Children with Disabilities

Inclusive Education: Adapting Mainstream Schools

Inclusive Education: Adapting Mainstream Schools

The practice of adapting mainstream schools and classrooms, so that students can learn together, each at their own pace.

Why is it beneficial?

Inclusive education prepares all students, whether disabled or non-disabled, to contribute to and participate in the communities in which they live.

Is inclusive education more expensive than special education?

The head teacher has access to funding or additional resources from the local education authority if your child needs extra supports.  As of September 2002, financial constraints cannot be the deciding factor in determining whether your child can go to the local mainstream school.  As parents, your wishes have a much more significant influence on where your child attends school.  It’s important to remember that the head teacher does not own the school.  The school is part of your child’s community, and as such, your child has a right to access it.

Inclusive education is often far more economical than providing services in special schools.  Inclusive education broadens the impact of expertise and maximally leverages educational resources by bringing them to mainstream schools and classrooms for the benefit of all students. Transforming a system of education from segregation to inclusion is hard work, and education authorities and school staff will often raise the issue of money as an avoidance tactic.

That argument, however, is counter-intuitive and easily rebutted, as evidenced by inclusive schools throughout the world.  It’s got nothing to do with money.  It is all about will.

Will my child be bullied?

Bullying is a very real concern for any parent sending their child to any school, whether a special school or an ordinary school.  No child should be subjected to name-calling or being made fun of, whatever school they attend.  If this happens, the school must act aggressively to stop it and make sure it does not happen again.  If you think this may happen to your child, get assurance from the school as to how they intend to prevent it.  If you think your child is being bullied and you’re not satisfied with the school’s response, go to your local councillor and/or the local education authority.  This behaviour should never be accepted as part of growing up.  It can be very damaging to all children concerned, whether they are the subject of bullying, are observing bullying, or indeed are bullying others.

There is no evidence that students are bullied more in mainstream schools than in special schools.  In fact, in a mainstream school in which the adults have been intentional about building a circle of friends around a student with disabilities, vulnerable students have peer advocates/friends, who are often the most effective prevention to bullying.

Will my child be able to keep up with the work the other students are doing?

This may be true for some students in some class work, but support can be provided to make sure that your child is able to participate according to his/her abilities and to take part in many other areas of class work and participate in other school activities.  Just like any other child, he or she will not be allowed to play here as any kind of gambling games are not allowed (that is a privilege left to teachers). All children in a school learn in different ways, at a different pace, and will have different modes of contributing to the learning community.  It is most important that the school create opportunities so that your child can contribute to the classroom and the learning of others in his/her unique way by being a genuine part of the school.  For any given lesson or content area, within any given school, there will be as many diverse learning outcomes as there are learners.  Good schools focus on learner growth and continuous progress, no matter where on the spectrum of achievement that learning occurs.

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