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18724211 INCLUSIVE EDUCATION Assignment 1

There seems to be a lot of confusion or misinformation about inclusion in an

educational context. It is, therefore, crucial to define what inclusive education means.

According to Loreman, Deppeler and Harvey (2011) it is the “full participation of all students

in all aspects of schooling” (p.2). It involves regular classrooms that are willing to change in

order to meet the needs of students with a range of abilities and backgrounds (Konza, 2008;

Loreman & al., 2011; Poed & Elkins, 2012; Thomas, 1997). This essay examines the

continuous changes to inclusion within a school setting, alongside the introduction of

legislation, such as the Disability Standards for Education, 2005 and the Disability

Discrimination Act, 1992, that protect the rights of students with disabilities as well as

eliminate discriminatory educational services for this group (Keeffe-Martin, 2001; Poed &

Elkins, 2012). Additionally, this paper discusses how teachers, schools and communities can

aid with the inclusion of students with disabilities, including those with Autism Spectrum

Disease (ASD).

“To promote equal and active participation of all people with a disability” (Australian

Research Alliance for Children and Youth [ARACY], 2013, p.4), Australia and other countries’

efforts led to the official approval of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People

with disabilities in 2008 which states that all people with disability should have the right to

inclusive education (ARACY, 2013). Hence, schools must ensure that all students, irrespective

of their disability, are provided with the same social and academic opportunities (McMahon,

Keys, Berardi, Crouch & Coker, 2016; Poed & Elkins, 2012). Australia’s commitment is also

reflected in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, and the Disability Standards for Education

2005, which develop in further detail the legal obligations that are required from all education

providers for an inclusive education (ARACY, 2013).

18724211 INCLUSIVE EDUCATION Assignment 1

Prior to 1970, inclusive education was not a focal point in Australia and students with a

disability were educated in segregated settings, however, it was not until the mid 1970’s that a

change occurred and they started attending mainstream settings (Forlin, 2006; Keeffe-Martin,

2001; Konza, 2008). This change occurred after the Western countries shifted their attitudes

about how people with a disability should be educated, and the research findings about the

effectiveness of special education schools came out. The changing views about inclusion in

Australia were affected by the “normalisation” principle (Forlin, 2006; Konza 2008) - “the

right of people with disabilities to learning and living environments as close to normal as

possible” (Konza, 2008, p.39). Inclusive education, in Australia, involves schools being

responsible for providing the amenities, support, services and a suitable curriculum for all

students regardless of the disability (Konza, 2008). Today, inclusive education targets all

students, with and without a disability, to reduce inequalities and exclusions as well as receive

a high-quality education in ‘regular’ schools (Anderson & Boyle, 2015).

Australia has specific legislation to ensure that it is an “inclusive society” which is providing

“inclusive systems” (Pearce, 2009, cited in Anderson & Boyle, 2015, p.101). The Disability

Discrimination Act, 1992, states that it is illegal for a person with a disability to be

discriminated against by educational authorities regardless of the disability (Department of

Education and Training [DET], 2015). It includes a broad definition of disability as well as

covers the disabilities that a person has had in the past, has now or may have in the future

(DET, 2015). Additionally, it extends to protect family or friends of the person with a disability

if they were treated unfairly just because of their relationship (Poed & Elkins, 2012).

Furthermore, all government and non-government schools, in all states and territories, must

comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DET, 2015).

18724211 INCLUSIVE EDUCATION Assignment 1

The Disability Standards for Education, 2005, are established under the Commonwealth

Disability Discrimination Act, 1992 (DET, 2012). The Standards clarify and specify the legal

obligations under disability discrimination legislation in relation to education (Poed & Elkins,

2012). In addition, they elaborate on how to make education and training accessible to people

with a disability by covering multiple areas such as enrolment, student support services and

harassment and victimisation (DET, 2012). The Part for each area consists of the ‘rights’ of

students with a disability, the ‘obligations’ that educational providers and authorities must

comply with and lastly, the ‘measures’ that are being implemented as an evidence of

compliance with the legal obligation (DET, 2012). The ‘measures’, adjustments or actions are

used to assist people with a disability to ensure they fully participate in a course (Cumming &

Dickson, 2013).

Every year, students receiving adjustments due to disability as defined under the Disability

Discrimination Act 1992, are counted in Australia (DET, 2016). This data collection is called

the National Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) and is

very beneficial as this information helps families, education providers, teachers and principals

to best support students with a disability (DET, 2016). In 2012, 90 000 out of 740 000 students

enrolled in New South Wales public schools were reported to have a disability and/or learning

difficulties (NSW DET, 2012). 35 000 of those students had a disability as defined by the

Department, such as mental health and autism, the rest had needs related to learning difficulties

or disabilities such as dyspraxia, dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

(ADHD) (NSW DET, 2012). Therefore, teachers, principals and education providers must be

equipped with the necessary skills and materials as well as use evidence-based practices in

order to ensure an inclusive education.

18724211 INCLUSIVE EDUCATION Assignment 1

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a “lifelong developmental condition that affects the way

an individual relates to their environment and their interactions with other people” (Autism

Spectrum Australia, 2017). The symptoms are usually grouped in two categories: the first one

relates to difficulty with social communication and interaction, and the second group relates to

restricted or repetitive behaviour, thought and interests (Autism Spectrum Disorder, 2015). In

addition, they vary for each person and they can be low, moderate or severe (Autism Spectrum

Disorder, 2015). For instance, students with ASD may find difficulty in starting or ending a

conversation, behaving properly with their peers, controlling their emotions and they may also

avoid eye contact (Boutot, 2007). According to Autism Aspergers Advocacy in Australia

(2015), the number of students with ASD is rising as well as their placement in mainstream

school. As a result, it is vital for teachers to be prepared and equipped with specific resources,

attitudes and strategies to cater for the needs of students with ASD and other disabilities.

Developing positive attitudes toward students with ASD or other disabilities is crucial for

inclusive education as it has been shown by a substantial amount of research that there is a

correlation between teachers’ expectations and students’ achievement.

Developing or acquiring multiple skills is essential in order to meet the needs of students with

additional needs and those with ASD. According to Model Farms High School (2014), students

with mental health issues and ASD benefit from short breaks between teaching sessions and a

quiet environment as loud or noisy classrooms can have negative effects on the students.

Additionally, all students, with or without disability benefit from simple and clear instruction

which is one of the standards in Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST)

(Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL], 2014). Furthermore, all

students, especially those with ASD and additional needs, learn much better with multimodal

instruction (Boutot, 2007). These strategies also connect to the Universal Design for Learning

(UDL), “a set of principles for curriculum” that works not only for students with disabilities
18724211 INCLUSIVE EDUCATION Assignment 1

but all students (National Center on Universal Design for Learning, 2014). UDL provides a

plan to create instructional goals, resources and assessments that work for all students and that

can be customised to meet the needs of every student. For instance, student with hearing

impairment require transcripts for videos or clips, which benefits all students.

Additionally, today’s classrooms are filled with students with different abilities, some may

grasp a topic in a relatively short time while others require additional time. Therefore,

differentiation- an educational approach by which curriculum practices match specific abilities

and capacities, is essential (Burkett, 2013; Munro, 2012). This approach is useful for all

students, including gifted and talented students who benefit from working at a faster pace. For

example, they may not need introductory activities such as the rest of the students and they

benefit from extra-curricular programs (Munro, 2012). Differentiation means that the teacher

is meeting the needs of all students through pedagogy, curriculum and assessment. If the

teacher explained a topic that gifted and talented students were able to grasp easily, they might

be given an extension activity to work on.

Furthermore, students with disabilities or additional needs require some adjustments and

accommodations to meet the outcomes. They can only be assessed fairly if reasonable

adjustments are made and the assessments tasks are accessible to them. The adjustments to be

made are the duty of the teacher, as stated in the Disability Standards for Education 2005, and

can be made to the task itself or the environment (Walsh, 2012). For instance, students can be

given three options for the assessment and they can select the one they feel more comfortable


It is the responsibility of the teachers and schools to make the learning accessible for every

student, maximise and facilitate the learning the learning process so that every student has a

chance to succeed. Therefore, schools are responsible for establishing a supportive

18724211 INCLUSIVE EDUCATION Assignment 1

environment and providing the required services such as building ramps for students with

disabilities. Communication is imperative between the school, teachers, learning support

officers and parents to make the learning effective especially for students with disabilities. The

learning support team help students with disabilities in performing tasks and toward working

independently (Van Kraayenoord, 2012). In addition, teachers must be very organised as they

can notify students with ASD about any changes that may occur in the lesson and change the

routines to avoid negative situations (Saggers, 2016); which is also beneficial for all students.

Organising also students by heterogeneous groups with mixed abilities fosters students’ social

skills and academic achievement (Loreman, 2007). Finally, planning, adapting and

manipulating the curriculum and practices based on students’ individual needs is a requirement

for all teachers. In fact, “know the students” and “how they learn” is a standard in the APST

(AITSL, 2014).

In conclusion, the number of students with disabilities in mainstream classes in

Australia has been increasing due to the changing views about inclusion and the

implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for

Education 2005. As a result, schools, teachers, parents and caregivers must collaborate to

ensure that all students are receiving the adequate support and services to succeed. In others

words, schools and teachers must communicate with parents and caregivers in order to make

adjustments and accommodations that promote inclusion in schools. The UDL framework

ensures a successful inclusion of all students in the classrooms. Teachers’ organisational skills,

attitudes and beliefs, instructional methods, collaboration as well as school support are crucial

in order to include all students in an educational setting.

18724211 INCLUSIVE EDUCATION Assignment 1


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18724211 INCLUSIVE EDUCATION Assignment 1

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