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Week 1: Thinking about inclusive education

2. Introduction to Week 1

We all learn best when we feel safe, valued and included. When children experience inclusive education, they can reach their full potential and become valued participants in society. When parents know that their children are treated fairly and have the opportunity to thrive in school they are more likely to support their learning and ensure that their child attends school. However, families of children with disabilities are often worried that their children will not be valued and included in the classroom. This means that many children with disabilities are not attending school. These children are at risk of not completing their basic education and missing out on the learning needed to take on a full role in society and become financially independent adults. They are also in danger of being socially excluded if they do not form friendships and become part of their local community (Sarton and Smith 2018; UNICEF 2020).

This first course will help you to find ways to provide ‘inclusive education’ for all children, so that children with disabilities are able to learn alongside their peers.

UNICEF (2020) offers a simple definition of inclusive education:

Inclusive education means all children in the same classrooms, in the same schools. It means real learning opportunities for groups who have traditionally been excluded – not only children with disabilities, but speakers of minority languages too.

(UNICEF 2020)

Week 1 of this course will help you to reflect on your existing ideas about inclusive education and what it means to be inclusive. You will think about why some children may feel excluded and how all teachers can develop inclusive strategies to benefit all children.

In this first week you will:

  • reflect on what it means to feel excluded and compare this with being included
  • engage with a model for inclusive education and what it means to be inclusive
  • consider strategies to support active learning and teaching.

In total there are seven activities in this first week, including a quiz at the end that is part of your course assessment.