Inclusion and Equity in Education: Key Principles and Characteristics

The promotion of inclusion and equity in education is of the utmost importance.

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.

We are all important. Together, let us help and support one another.

 “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:

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: