There is an urgent need for huge strides to be undertaken in developing, establishing and maintaining high-quality, nationwide education. All governments should produce a comprehensive policy on how the sustainable development goal of the United Nations on inclusive education will be implemented by 2030. It should cover: a detailed timetable for progress; the rights and obligations of students; the improvement and future design of learning campuses and communities, including the efficient use of distant learning and computer-based courses of study; inputs of inter-disciplinary roles across professional groups involved in the promotion of knowledge, skills, health, wellbeing and citizenship; and planning for further staff training and development.
Authentic inclusiveness should encompass the following ten fundamental principles and characteristics:
1. Entitlement for all learners – regardless of age, social background, abilities or identity – to be educated within genuinely welcoming and embracing environments without any forms of imagined or created barriers;
2. A sense of attachment, safety and belonging across every aspect of learning and teaching in educational and training programmes, enterprises, clubs, leisure activities, outings and sports;
3. Effective participation and collaboration among learners, staff, families, interest groups and local authorities at each stage of development;
4. A culture of collegiate leadership to ensure that decision-making procedures take appropriate account of the views of relevant stakeholders such as students, parents and guardians, staff and support agencies;
5. Promotion of physical and mental health and wellbeing incorporating on-going provision across a comprehensive and well-integrated range of professional and voluntary services;
6. Dynamic and formative assessment to build on individuals’ strengths and to address their needs in relation to equity and differing abilities (occasionally referred to as differabilities);
7. Designated personalised learning pathways along which all are able to progress successfully with confidence, respect and dignity;
8. The raising of potential, attainments and achievements including knowledge, understanding and competences regarding everyday living, citizenship and employability;
9. Full and active curricular engagement to ensure students have an ownership of apposite targets to reach and, consequently, are well placed to take personal responsibility for meeting them;
10. Coherent forward planning covering: transitional arrangements from infancy to the world of work; availability of relevant lifelong learning; and opportunities to make pragmatic contributions in fostering inclusive and flourishing communities.
“The central message is simple: every learner matters and matters equally.” (A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 2017)
Note: For a more in-depth discussion of diversity, equity and inclusion, please go to the article on this topic at: https://improvingcareand.education/2021/07/11/diversity-equity-inclusion/
Additional reference: For a detailed focus on a wide variety of theoretical and practical topics relating to inclusive practices, go to David Watt’s blog at the following link: https://inclusivepracticessite.blog