Inclusive educational practice recognises and accepts diversity within the community. It is underpinned by clear values and philosophies where respect for others and their differences is paramount.

Inclusive education is more than a concern about any one group of pupils. It is about providing opportunities for all children and young people in the community to learn together and where schools nurture learners by providing inclusive systems which are open, participatory and flexible. Inclusive systems work to remove barriers to learning and address issues that relate to all individuals who are vulnerable to exclusion from education.

Inclusion challenges the ability of the school to offer all pupils appropriate and effective:

  • curriculum access;
  • support arrangements;
  • pupil management systems.

Teaching has to respond to the individuals involved, the challenges and opportunities that arise and the constraints of the context. Employing a range of appropriate strategies which enable quality teaching to occur is central to inclusive practice and should include:

  • differentiation strategies;
  • co-operative learning strategies;
  • classroom management strategies; and
  • the use of new technology.

Inclusive schools identify any pupils who may be ‘missing out’, difficult to engage, or feeling in some way to be apart from what the school seeks to provide. They take practical steps – in the classroom and beyond – to meet pupils’ needs effectively and they promote tolerance and understanding in a diverse society.

Inclusion pays particular attention to the provision made for and the achievement of different groups of pupils within a school. The term different groups could apply to any or all of the following:

  • girls and boys;
  • minority ethnic, travellers, asylum seekers and refugees;
  • pupils who need support to learn English as an additional language (EAL);
  • pupils with special educational needs;
  • gifted and talented pupils;
  • 'looked after' children and young people;
  • other learners, such as sick children and young people, young carers, those learners from families under stress, pregnant school girls and teenage mothers, and
  • any pupils who are at risk of disaffection and exclusion.

To promote inclusion schools may need to seek support beyond their own resources by accessing those available from the wider educational community or from other agencies including:

  • employing authorities advisory or peripatetic services;
  • school based outreach support services and;
  • community inter-disciplinary support teams.

In inclusion, the emphasis is on the changes in the environment of the school and the educational system as whole. These include reform of the curriculum and the methods of teaching, the nature of the interactions between teacher and child, ways in which learners are grouped and provided with opportunities to learn together. The active involvement of parents is also essential. Inclusion is concerned with ways in which the social and educational environment can be modified to enable children and young people to participate fully in the life of the school and of society.

Educational inclusion works if...

  • Placement is carefully planned and prepared. The provision of an appropriate and emotionally secure learning environment is essential. Inclusion is not effective if placement and provision is not appropriate.
  • All recommended outside agency support is in place.
  • Specialist teaching and adult assistance support is sufficiently available.
  • Awareness and knowledge of the particular need, including practical advice and strategies, are disseminated to all key and involved staff. This would also include knowledge of the pupil’s level of attainment and assessment of learning style.
  • Allocation to teaching group is sensitively considered in order to meet need.
  • Curriculum modifications are made including adapted timetable if necessary. Social arrangements are in place to include strategies and arrangements for non structured and extra curricular time.
  • Resources are available - technical, accommodation, teaching and learning.
  • Holistic approach is employed to include pro-active strategies for social and emotional development.
  • Challenging behaviour is managed clearly and consistently in the context of the identified need and with reference to the advices and recommendations of the supporting agents.
  • Regular and relevant assessment and reporting is available for supporting agencies and parents.
  • Parents are involved in decision making; keeping lines of communication open so that parents can inform school staff and avail of the school support and the advice of the outside agents.
  • Links with other specialist schools are developed and maintained. Dual responsibility or part time placement could be investigated.