Week 1: Thinking about inclusive education


4. What does it mean to be included?

4.1. Being included

An inclusive classroom.

Figure 1 An inclusive classroom.

You may have noted that when you were included perhaps people spoke to you differently, asked you questions about yourself or were genuinely interested in your ideas. People may have moved or offered you a place to sit so you felt part of group. Perhaps they explained something to you that you did not understand or helped you with a task which you found difficult. To feel included, you may have thought about feeling safe, valued and accepted.

The importance of being valued was highlighted in research with young autistic pupils:

They defined inclusion as belonging, being valued and wanted as a person by teachers, of fairness and of being afforded the necessary support to access and thrive in education. In short, inclusion is a feeling (a sense of belonging), not a place (mainstream or otherwise) (Goodall, 2020).

In all the examples from practitioners, you will have noticed that there were many ways in which people could have been made to feel included, such as:

  • Someone noticing that there was a problem
  • Teachers or peers providing a few kind words
  • Teachers checking for understanding and adjusting their teaching to provide more support or more of a challenge
  • Teachers organising the classroom so that learners can provide peer support.

You will learn more about what teachers can do to support inclusion in Weeks 2 and 3.

Now we have thought about what it means to be excluded and included, we will consider two examples of experiences in education.