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Assignment 1 Inclusive Education Essay

Proposed by various education institutions, there has been a major change in the last 15 years

in developing and recognising inclusive education and the goal to provide all students with

equal learning opportunities (UNESCO, 2008). There are many facets and definitions given

to the term inclusive education. One such definition from the Save the Children Program

(2016) identifies inclusive education as the equity in access and participation in satisfying

competencies and individual learning needs of all children. Similarly, “UNESCO defines

inclusive education as a process intended to respond to students’ diversity by increasing their

participation and reducing exclusion within and from education” (2008). This essay will

analyse and report the changing views of inclusive education within different settings, in

conjunction with specific legislation. Discussions will be made about students with Autism

Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and students with additional needs in the Australian education

setting. After this discussion, personal and professional skills will be proposed to successfully

meet inclusion in the classroom setting. Reference will be made to the collaboration of others

in the community, differentiation, appropriate outcomes and teacher attitudes.

According to Konza (2008) the integration of inclusive education in the mid-1970s began to

diverge from segregated learning and appear in ‘normalised’ classroom settings. This became

apparent to educational institutions due to the shift in attitudes towards educating people with

disabilities and research findings presenting benefits for changed settings. This view of

placing people with disabilities into ‘normalisation’ or ‘normalised’ settings was investigated

and recommended by many scholars and professional educators including Forlin et al (2001)

and Conway (2002). Australia has been one of few nations to successfully imbed and

facilitate the involvement and inclusion of students with a disability into ‘mainstream’

classrooms by shying away from segregation and separate classrooms. There is, however,
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still an option for students with severe disabilities to attend specialised segregated facilities

due to specific needs (such as wheelchair access, braille or large print resources and modified

toilets). Konza (2008) identified the role and responsibility of all Australian schools and

educational institutions in providing adequate adaptations in resources and curriculum,

facilities and appropriate assessment tasks to all students with or without a disability.

According to the NSW Department of Education and Communities (2012) there has been a

slight decrease from the years 1988 to 2011 (757,921 to 745,000) in enrolments of students

who have a disability in Australian schools. However, there has been a significant increase in

the funding allocated to students with a disability from $425,500 in 1998 to $1,180, 000 in

2011. The types of disability were categorised as sensory, intellectual, physical, mental health

and autism. The highest number of students were placed in the intellectual category followed

by mental health, autism, physical and then sensory health. Even though there has been a

positive increase in inclusive education (into ‘mainstream’ classrooms) the statistics still

reveal that the highest number of students are receiving funding support, followed closely by

support classes in regular schools and then special schools. These results have been

influenced by the changing attitudes of educators and government bodies as well as new

legislation towards increasing inclusive education.

With this shift in the inclusive educational movement, many forms of legislation were created

to guide schools and the wider community in improving the learning and treatment of

students with a disability. The two most notable acts of legislation are the Disability

Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005. The overarching

objective of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 is to enforce the legal obligation to not

discriminate against people with a disability. The Federal Register of Legislation by the
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Australian Government also states that the objectives of this act is to “ensure, as far as

practicable, that persons with disabilities have the same rights to equality before the law as

the rest of the community; and to promote recognition and acceptance within the community

of the principle that persons with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as the rest of

the community” (1992).

The legislation document also states that discrimination must be eliminated across

“education” and “services” which directly relates to schools and students attending them. The

second act: Disability Standards for Education 2005 recognises that “it is unlawful for an

educational authority to discriminate against a person on the ground of the person’s disability

or a disability of any associates of that person” (2005). This act is a subsection of the

discrimination act and focuses solely on education. Other legislation related to the inclusive

education movement which benefits students with equality includes the Disability Inclusion

Act 2014, Disability Services Act 2006, The National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013,

The Disability Services Act (1986), The National Disability Agreement and The National

Disability Strategy.

Not only are there legislations to support students with a disability but there has also been a

substantial amount of government and non-government organisations created for support

including the National Council on Intellectual Disability (created 1971), Standing Council on

Community, Housing and Disability Services (SCCHDS), Australian Disability

Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) and Disability Services Australia.

Before setting approaches and changing pedagogy to suit the needs and support students with

disabilities, teachers and educators must understand the variations and characteristics of each
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students’ (dis)ability. According to the Australian Network on Disability (2018) in

accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992, a disability can be defined as

“total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions”. The DDA lists the types of

disabilities which include physical, intellectual, mental illness, sensory, neurological, leaning

disability, physical disfigurement or immunological, with physical disability (83.9%) as the

most common in the Australian population followed by mental/behavioural disability

(11.3%) and intellectual or developmental disability (4.8%). As mentioned above the top

three most prevalent disabilities seen in schools amongst students is intellectual followed by

mental health and autism.

Specifically, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a term used to describe a group of

developmental disorders (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015). Characteristics of ASD

include problems with social interaction and communication, repetitive behaviour and

obsessive routines, where symptoms are present in the first two years of life. There are many

other characteristics of ASD which may negatively impact a student in their learning

environment. However, there are many strengths associated with ASD and include above-

average intelligence, individuals can retain specific details and information for long periods

of time, strong auditory and visual learners and often excel in given subjects such as maths,

science, art and music. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2015) the

number of students with ASD continues to rise and along with this there are indications of

more students being placed into ‘mainstream’ education settings. Along with ASD there are a

number of students who require additional needs within school settings. This places pressure

on teachers (more specifically pre-service teachers) to learn and adapt to the required

teaching skills, accommodations and strategies to suit the needs of individual students.
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In satisfying the needs of students with ASD teachers can develop specific strategies to adapt

to the given situation. For example, when aiming to set up a safe classroom environment,

teachers can develop structured routine statements such as; enter classroom, greet teacher,

greet friend next to you and unpack school bag. This ensures students do not become easily

distracted. Students with ASD learn faster and with greater ease when identifying visuals

rather than just literary or verbal instruction (Victoria State Government: Education and

Training, 2017). For example, when discussing healthy food include pictures of an apple and

banana and when learning about hygiene include a picture of someone washing their hands.

For rare cases and young student’s teachers can also use cards to instruct a certain aspect of

the typical school day, such as a card with food on it to indicate recess or lunch, picture of

someone singing for a music class and equations to symbolise the topic; maths.

As mentioned above student’s with ASD also advance their learning though practical

instruction. An example of this could be (when teaching appropriate behaviour) the teacher

flicking a pencil on the ground and asking, “is this ok?” while raising hand in the air to

symbolise a question is being asked. This is a form of physical demonstration which can

assist ASD students more effectively than verbal instruction. There are various tools and

guidelines based around numerous aspects of school life (including classroom environment,

effective hand signals, communication and other effective learning approaches) to assist

teachers in meeting the needs of students with ASD.

Similarly, students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) share

commonalities in impulsivity and inattention to students with ASD. Therefore, teachers must

utilise similar strategies. These may include establishing a routine and being predictable,

provide discreet cues, audio-visual learning materials, check student performance in a task
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regularly, ask probing questions, let students take control of their own learning by choosing

activities (student centred learning), divide large amounts of content or writing into small

blocks of work with regular breaks and utilise interactive ICT (U.S. Department of

Education, 2008). Differentiation not only occurs for students with disabilities but all students

across all age groups and abilities.

Differentiation involves planning, instruction and forward programming to enable teachers to

set appropriate learning content to engage different ranges of students and classes (NSW

Education Standards Authority, 2017). In order to provide differentiated learning in

classrooms teachers must pair activities and assessments to suit each student. This may mean

providing regular breaks for students with ASD (outlined in the above paragraphs) or

providing extra and more complex activities for gifted and talented students. For example, a

teacher may provide the option for a student with ASD to watch a video or become involved

in a play for learning about a certain topic, whereas a gifted and talented student may need an

activity with more steps such as five more questions in a research task (and/or more complex

terminology for example analyse instead of explain or list).

According to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL, 2011) teachers

must “differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full

range of abilities” (standard 1.5), provide “strategies to support full participation of students

with disability” (1.6) and set suitable “curriculum, assessment and reporting” (2.3). Setting

appropriate assessment can be one of the most difficult aspects of teaching students with

certain disabilities, although, there is an abundance or resources available (Fletcher-

Campbell, 2005). Students with differing disabilities such as ASD, dyspraxia, dyslexia,

mental health issues such as anxiety and ADHD may require regular breaks during exams,
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questions altered to include visuals rather than lengthy pieces of reading or writing, an

assistant teacher and may need a room to themselves. Students with these disabilities may

find it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time, become disorientated and confused

with multiple pages of work and find it difficult to work in a completely silent environment.

Therefore, teachers must develop and plan the most appropriate way to assess a student’s

learning in order to maintain fairness and equality in learning.

Inclusive education has become a vital area of development for pre-service teachers around

the globe for many reasons. Studies (D’Alonzo et al, 1996 & Vaughn et al, 1996) have shown

that pre-service teachers and the majority of full time teachers find it difficult and

uncomfortable in educating students with a disability in general educative settings. In order to

successfully educate students with disabilities, pre-service teachers have a variety of

resources available to them to adjust their teaching pedagogy to suit the needs of all learners.

In doing so teachers, schools, communities, non-government and government organisations

can work towards providing equality in the many facets of education.

Australian Government. (1992). Federal register of legislation: Disability discrimination act
1992. Retrieved from
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2011). Australian professional
standards for teachers. Retrieved from
Australian Network on Disability. (2018). What is a disability? Retrieved from
Commonwealth of Australia. (2005). Disability standards for education 2005: Plus guidance
notes. Retrieved from
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Conway, R. (2002). Behaviour in and out of the classroom. In A. Ashman and J. Elkins,
(Eds.), Educating Children with Diverse Abilities (pp. 172-236). Sydney: Prentice
D’Alonzo, B., Giordano, G., & Cross, T. (1996). Improving teachers’ attitudes through
teacher education toward the inclusion of students with disabilities into their
classrooms. Teacher Educator, 31(4), 304-312.
Fletcher-Campbell, F. (2005). Moderate learning difficulties. In A. Lewis & B. Norwich
(2005) Special Teaching for Special Children? Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Forlin, C., Jobling, A., & Carrol, A. (2001). Preservice teachers’ discomfort levels toward
people with disabilities. The Journal of International Special Needs Education, 4,
Konza, D. (2008). Inclusion of students with disabilities in new times: responding to the
challenge. In Kell, P., Vialle, W., Konza, D. & Vogl, G (eds), Learning and the
learner: exploring learning for new times. University of Wollongong. Retrieved from
National Institute of Mental Health. (2015). Autism spectrum disorder. U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services. Retrieved from
NSW Department of Education and Communities. (2012). Every student, every school:
Learning and support. Education and communities. Retrieved from
NSW Education Standards Authority. (2017). Differentiated programming. Retrieved from
Save The Children. (2016). Inclusive education: What, why and how. Retrieved from
U.S. Department of Education. (2008). Teaching children with attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder: Instructional strategies and practices. Retrieved from
UNESCO International Bureau of Education. (2008). Defining an inclusive education
agenda: Reflections around the 48th session of the international conference on
education. Retrieved from
Victoria State Government: Education and Training. (2017). ASD support materials.
Retrieved from
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Villa, R., Thousand, J., & Chapple, J. (1996). Preparing teachers to support inclusion:
Preservice and inservice programs. Theory into Practice, 3t(1), 42-50.