What does the research tell us about Inclusive Education?
It will be helpful in your advocacy efforts to know what the research says around inclusive education and you can refer to it if people question your decision.
Associate Professor Dr Bob Jackson has done a great deal of research in inclusive education. His work has encompassed a very extensive review of the literature about inclusion and he has given presentations to parents and teachers across Australia. He has been closely involved with school inclusion, advising families, teachers, schools and education systems on the rationale and practicalities of inclusion.
Below are two of Dr Jackson's articles.
You can read more about Dr Jackson’s work at www.include.com.au
Other research is also available on the benefits and importance of inclusive education.
Professor Kathy Cologon from Macquarie University wrote an issue paper titled Inclusion in education - towards equality for students with disability for Children with Disability Australia in 2013. This paper states that Inclusive education is an:
approach to education free from discriminatory beliefs, attitudes and practises, including free from ableism’
This paper discusses the concept of ableism as the attitude that a person with disability is somehow inferior to a person who has no disability.
It emphasises that every student has the right to an inclusive education and recognises that inclusion is not about disability or school but it is an issue of social justice.
Another article written by Professor Kathy Cologon Inclusive education means all children are included in every way, not just in theory.
It can be helpful to revisit what has occurred in other countries who are also challenging a segregated schooling system. In this document 'From integration to inclusion: the Canadian experience' by Bruce Uditsky, Uditsky moves through an historical overview of the education of students with significant disabilities in Canada, focusing on the parent movement because they were and are the principle leaders and agents of change. Several other themes run through this chapter including:
1. the struggle for inclusion as a reflection of personal and cultural values not educational science
2. educators as allies in the process of change
3. inclusive schooling practices as different from integrated schooling practices.
Uditsky ultimately argues that although a definition of inclusion is still evolving, fundamental to the process is a set of principles ensuring the student is valued and needed. From these principles come several key components to the practice of inclusive schooling: membership, curriculum, teaching practices, friendships and supports.
You can view this interview with Bruce Uditsky and Anne Hughson discussing the opportunities for full inclusive education in Australia. Some main points of reflection from the experience in Alberta Canada is:
- increasing the opportunities for fully inclusive education from preschool years onward
- guaranteeing teachers are equipped and qualified to teach in an inclusive classroom
- ensuring school leaders are being mentored and are able to instruct staff in their school communities
- upholding the United Nations Convention (note that Australia signed this convention in 2007) - read more about this on the know your rights page
- working with Universal Design of Learning as a teaching pedagogy that raises the bar for all students to do well by creating a rich learning environment.