Definition of Inclusion
“Inclusion is about increasing participation for all children and adults. It is about supporting schools to become more responsive to the diversity of children’s backgrounds, interests, experiences, knowledge and skills.” (Booth & Ainscow)
“Inclusion is a never ending process concerned with the involvement of individuals, the creation of participatory systems and settings, and the promotion of inclusive values. It involves increasing participation for everyone in the cultures, communities and curricula of local settings, and reducing all forms of exclusion and discrimination. It is concerned with listening to the voices of children and acting on them. But it is as much concerned with families and with staff in schools as it is with children.” (Booth & Ainscow)
“Inclusive education is characterized by presumed competence, authentic membership, full participation, reciprocal social relationships, and learning to high standards by all students with disabilities in age-appropriate general education classrooms with supports provided to students and teachers to enable them to be successful.” (Research on Inclusive Education – Institute on Disability, University of New Hampshire, April 10, 2009)
“Inclusive classrooms can be wonderful places to establish norms and practices that are based on the belief that all people need help, that giving and getting help are good things, and that helping others creates an atmosphere of mutual support and respect.” (Mara Sapon-Shevin)
Something to think about…
Government of Alberta – Inspiring Action on Education
Policy Directions – Inclusive Education (June 2010)
An inclusive education system is one that takes responsibility for all students, focuses on their strengths, and emphasizes what they can do rather than focusing on their limitations. While inclusive education is not about the automatic placement of every student in typical classrooms, it does involve the sharing of a commitment to meeting diverse student needs in all school settings so that all students experience a sense of belonging and acceptance in their learning environments.
An inclusive education system means that:
- all decisions are made based on the needs and interests of students.
- expectations are high for all students and a number of pathways are used to ensure their success.
- outcomes in the programs of study are the starting point for planning and instruction for students.
- programs of study are complemented with a continuum of supports and services where classrooms, schools, school authorities, and the specialist community are equipped to make it possible for all students to have their needs met.
- programs of study and measures of achievement will continue to be accessible to all students.
- school-based expertise is augmented by current research and new technologies to support teachers.
- teachers have resources and tools to support them in using the programs of study in more robust ways to address the diverse learning needs of all students.
- accessible learning resources are available so that students are provided with learning opportunities that address their interests, strengths and needs.
- students demonstrate their learning in multiple ways, including through refined assessment strategies which measure their progress and growth.
- principals lead in creating positive learning cultures where all students and staff feel welcomed and supported.
- teachers are skilled in collaborating effectively with parents, principals, teacher assistants, psychologists, or other specialists.
- parents are included as important and respected members of their child’s learning team.
The implementation of a truly inclusive education system requires each one of us to think and work differently. It will occur through the development of a collaborative model based on collective responsibility for the success of each student. Supports and services for students will be delivered collaboratively in the most logical and natural setting to “wraparound” the student. Efforts will need to be made to expand the capacity of our education system so that it responds to the needs of all students. To make this possible, a collaborative process will be established between Alberta Education, Health and Wellness, and Children and Youth Services. This means an enhanced opportunity for everyone to work together across provincial, regional, and local levels.