Inclusion is a way of thinking and acting that demonstrates universal acceptance and promotes a sense of belonging for all. Inclusive education ensures that schools are supportive and engaging places for all school community members. It builds communities that value and celebrate diversity. It is directed by respectful relationships between learners and school community members and supported by collaborative relationships with parents and communities through communication and partnerships.
The AMI School, inclusive by design, is committed to an education system built on this approach to accepting responsibility for all children to a welcoming and respectful environment. Research shows that a sense of belonging is essential for children’s wellbeing. The school recognizes the importance of social acceptance and high self-esteem as pre-requisites to real learning in the school setting. It actively seeks to create an environment which facilitates the learning process for everyone and to remove the barriers that can hinder participation or exclude individuals from daily routines.
The following six features are essential for achieving AMI’s vision for an inclusive education system.
- Supporting diversity and differences – Create and maintain welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments for a sense of belonging for all learners and their families.
- High expectations for all learners – Developing a culture of high expectations begins with a relevant curriculum leading to meaningful and real learning experiences. The school and families act on the idea that, with the right supports, every child can learn and be successful.
- Understanding learners’ strengths and needs – Meaningful data is gathered and shared at all levels of the system—by teachers, families, and management to understand and respond to the strengths and needs of individual learners.
- Minimizing barriers within learning environments – All education partners’ work together to identify and reduce barriers within the curriculum, the school environment and teaching methodologies that are not conducive to the students’ ability to be successful learners and to participate fully in the school community.
- Capacity building – School heads, teachers, education professionals, families and community partners have ongoing opportunities, relationships and resources that develop, strengthen and renew their understanding, skills and abilities to create flexible and responsive learning environments.
- Sharing responsibility – All stake holders including school staff, families, service providers, staff training programs, assessing/certifying authorities and government departments are committed to collaboration to ensure success for all learners.
Road map to inclusion:
Creating inclusive learning environments does not happen or succeed with a set of instructions or policies. Rather, it is like a journey on which all professionals working within must embark on to ensure that children with special educational needs can reach their potential, both in terms of academics and wellbeing.
When one is on a journey, it is wise to use a map to show where we are going and also help us in making the required decisions. The route travelled so far is checked to establish the current position and make decisions about the future. The road map aims to provide a set of indicators which can be used in a variety of ways to help us in meeting the needs of children with special educational needs.
The core of this road map is based on three dimensions: –
- Building inclusive cultures: This aims to study the beliefs and attitudes which drive the behavior patterns of all students and adults included in the school setting.
- Developing and adopting inclusive policies: This looks at how the policies and procedures of the organization can provide direction for developing an inclusive environment.
- Adopting inclusive practices: Most obvious, these are the general behavior or what is actually practiced to ensure the inclusion of students with special education needs.