We are often approached by Educators seeking advice on how to make their classrooms and schools more inclusive. Below are some of the most common questions we get asked and the guidance we offer. Please understand that every class, school and child is different and so advice will differ depending on the unique environment.
What does it mean to be a more inclusive school?
Inclusion means understanding and embracing the diversity of learners’ needs within your school. The S A Schools Bill and Education White Paper 6 call for schools to provide educational support for learners with special needs where practicable. This is based on the constitutional right of all children to education, and the belief that children should ideally attend a school close to their home and receive any support they may need. For schools to become more inclusive, they need to consider ways of meeting the different needs of learners that fall in their catchment area.
I have a child with ADHD in my class who is very disruptive, what can I do?
Disruptive behaviour can be very stressful in a classroom. Remember these children genuinely struggle to sit still or pay attention. Try to exercise positive behaviour management. This may involve reinforcing even the smallest sign of good behaviour and attention and breaking lessons often for 1-2 mins of physical exercise. Focus on their strengths! Encourage parents to be a part of the team.
I have a child in my class who is very withdrawn and I am very worried about his home circumstances, what should I do?
It is very important to attend to the needs of the withdrawn child. Various circumstances can cause a child to become withdrawn and can be serious. These may include problems at home, an inability to cope at school, etc. Try to build a relationship with the child to understand him/her better. He/she might need to be referred to an Educator Support Team. Discuss your concerns with his/her parent/carer and plan with them how to support the child.
I suspect a learner in my class might have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). What do you suggest I should do?
FAS is a spectrum disorder, this means that children can be mildly or severely affected. In some cases you can establish a child has FAS by their physical features but this is not always the case, especially with children who have mild FAS. Also the learning ability of children with FAS varies greatly so it is important to look at a functional assessment of the child’s individual ability rather than focussing on a diagnosis. It is also important to be sensitive in the way that you communicate with the child’s family as often a stigma surrounds FAS.
I am struggling to differentiate my teaching to meet the diverse needs of my classroom, what can I do?
Successful differentiating often rests on your ability to identify the different levels of the children in your class and to gear your teaching to these different levels. A baseline assessment can be a useful tool. Take this into consideration when planning your lessons. Consult your colleagues and perhaps your learning support advisor
Isn’t it better for a child with a physical disability to attend a special school?
Just because a child has a physical disability does not mean that she has different learning needs, or cannot attend school with her non-disabled peers. Special schools often involve travelling long distances or even staying in a hostel away from home. Easy access to physiotherapy can be an advantage of attending a special school, but this needs to be weighed up against other factors. Parents may decide which type of schooling they choose, and schools can not discriminate against a child with a disability.
Does inclusion mean every child should be treated the same?
Inclusion means that all children have an equal right to education and to support that will enable them to learn. Children with a disability are entitled to “reasonable accommodations” to be able to access that right. If a child who is visually impaired is not given work in Braille or in large print format, he is not being treated equally!
Does the fact that every child has a right to education mean that every child has the right to mainstream education and we shouldn’t have special schools?
No, special schools are part of our inclusive education system and where children need a high level of support then their educational needs could best be met in a special school.
Looking for more answers?
If you have not found the answer to your particular question, please email Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org