1. Different types of schools

At the end of this chapter, you will:

  • have enabled teachers to explore, understand, and appreciate the difference between education in mainstream schools, specialised, integrative and inclusive schools.

There are several models of education that allow all children, ‘without any distinction’, to learn.

Research shows that there are different types of schools that offer different approaches towards providing quality education for all.

Activity 2: What do different schools do to allow all children to learn?

This activity will enable teachers to understand the differences between different types of schools and to begin to develop their own definition of inclusive education.

  • Read below the definitions of the different schools and match them with the names of the schools.
  • Write your own definition for ‘Inclusive education’.

What answers did you give? The following table will help you check your answers.

Special education Regular education Integrative education Inclusive education
Are allowed Children with specific impairments  All children All children, but they must change to fit the system  All children, with their individuality and differences, different levels of ability, different ethnic groups, girls and boys, valid or with disabilities
Curriculum and methods Everything is adapted to meet the children’s specific needs Everything is regular The children need to adapt, otherwise they might fail Everything is designed so that every child can learn and reach her/his full potential
The teachers Specialised Regular Follow the system that remains the same Adapt the curriculum, methods, and system to the needs of the children
Schools (no. of the definitions for Activity 1) Specialised schools         (3)  Regular schools       (1) Integrative schools                          (2) Inclusive schools                                           (4)

This diagram shows a possible illustration of the different types of educational systems.

Figure 1: The different types of educational systems

Now compare your definition of ‘inclusive education’ given in Activity 2 to the definitions below. Highlight characteristics you believe to be important and complete your own definition.

Inclusive education means education in which all children are welcome in the same classroom and provided with high-quality instruction and the support tools needed to succeed. In practice this requires helping schools and school systems to adapt to the needs [of] each individual child, rather than trying to ‘fix the child in order to fit the system.’ It also involves convincing parents, teachers, and other pupils that children with disabilities should be accepted and allowed to attend school alongside their peers.

(Handicap International, n.d.) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

If the right to education for all is to become a reality, we must ensure that all learners have access to quality education that meets basic learning needs and enriches lives. (…) The UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960) and other international human rights treaties prohibit any exclusion from or limitation to educational opportunities on the bases of socially ascribed or perceived differences, such as sex, ethnic origin, language, religion, nationality, social origin, economic condition, ability, etc. Education is not simply about making schools available for those who are already able to access them. It is about being proactive in identifying the barriers and obstacles learners encounter in attempting to access opportunities for quality education, as well as in removing those barriers and obstacles that lead to exclusion.

(UNESCO, n.d.)

Did you note the following characteristics in your definition of inclusive education?

  • Provides quality education
  • For all children
  • Whether with disabilities, vulnerable, marginalised
  • Takes into account everyone’s needs
  • Develops each individual’s potential
  • Improves education and living conditions
  • Teaches everyone to appreciate and respect differences among individuals
  • Aims to: 1) end all forms of discrimination 2) favour social cohesion

Inclusive schools allow all pupils to learn together, regardless of their gender, race, faith, wealth, origin, disability or any other condition.

To do this, schools must be adapted to meet every child’s needs. This means having an in-depth knowledge of the pupils and adapting learning techniques and buildings accordingly. Moreover, it is important to change the mindset and attitudes of teachers, pupils and the entire educational community. The basic principle is that we are all capable of learning and at the highest levels given the right tools/opportunity/support – after all Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Thomas Edison were children with special educational needs! They all had Asperger’s Syndrome.

Welcome to the Inclusive Education Toolkit!

2. The inclusive teacher’s attitude and behaviour