Inclusive education means that children and young people from ALL social, cultural, community and family backgrounds, and of all identities and all abilities are able to:
Inclusive education is:
The right to access a quality inclusive education is encompassed in Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which Australia is signatory.3
General comment No. 4 of the UNCRPD refers to inclusive education as:
a) A fundamental human right of all learners. Notably,
education is the right of the individual learner, and not, in the case of children, the right of a parent or caregiver. Parental responsibilities in this regard are subordinate to the rights of the child.
b) The result of a process of continuing and pro-active
commitment to eliminate the barriers impeding the right to education, together with changes to culture, policy and practice of regular schools to accommodate and effectively include all students.4
The case for inclusive education over ‘special education’ models is strong and is evidenced by four decades of research showing that when students living with disability are included, all students learn and achieve more. Children living with disability perform better on all measures and benefit academically, socially and emotionally from education in regular classrooms in the general education system rather than segregated, disability-specific settings.5
An inclusive education gives every student the best chance of lifelong wellbeing and happiness, as well as success later in life.
Inclusion is embedded in all aspects of school life and not only teaching practice, including culture, policies and every day practices.7
Inclusive education differs from exclusion, segregation or integration, as specified in General comment No. 4:
Figure 1 Infographic for inclusion, exclusion, segregation and integration approaches
1. All Means All (no date), For parents – Why include?, http://allmeansall.org.au/for-parents/
2. Community Resource Unit (2018), What is inclusive education?, Education fact sheet 1, http://cru.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Fact-Sheet-1-WHAT-IS-INCLUSIVE-EDUCATION.pdf
3. UN General Assembly, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 24 General Comment No. 4
5. Family Advocacy (2018), Same classroom same opportunities, Briefing Paper, p. 3.
Hehir, T et al. (2016), A summary of the evidence on inclusive education, Instituto Alana, pp. 3, 4.
6. Hehir, T et al. (2016), A summary of the evidence on inclusive education, Instituto Alana, p. 2.
8. United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) (2017), A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education, p. 12, http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002482/248254e.pdf
9. UN General Assembly, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 24 General Comment No. 4