Inclusive education welcomes all students into regular classes with same-age peers in their community, with supports or accommodations that ensure equitable opportunities for all students to learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of school life.
Inclusive education means designing schools, classrooms, programs and activities so that all students participate and learn together. Inclusive public neighbourhood schools are the heart of our communities and of quality education systems.
Features of Inclusive Schools
- All students are welcomed and valued for who they are.
- All students are supported to set personal goals and build on individual strengths.
- All students have equitable access to learning, with accommodations and support as required to overcome systemic barriers and discrimination.
- All students are supported to interact, play and collaborate with other students their
- Parents are welcomed as respected partners in their child’s education and local school
- School-wide commitment to upholding a safe, welcoming and supportive culture that
emphasizes belonging and respect for diversity.
Integration ≠ Inclusion
Inclusion is not simply integration or “mainstreaming” of students who were once characterized as different or special compared to “the mainstream.” Inclusion removes systemic barriers that persist in legacy systems that were designed with a narrower understanding of who belonged in normal society. It reconfigures physical and social structures to welcome diversity (e.g. of abilities, culture, ethnicity and gender identity). Pending the removal of barriers, additional supports may be required to ensure that all individuals’ rights to access and inclusion are respected.
It’s a Human Right
Equitable access to inclusive education for ALL students with disabilities is a fundamental human right. It is not an optional “program”, nor is this right dependent on individual beliefs, student abilities or organizational priorities.
The right of all students with disabilities to access inclusive education without discrimination was recognized by Articles 5 and 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN CRPD was ratified by 176 countries, including Canada, and clarified by General Comment No. 4 (the Right to Inclusive Education), released by the UN CRPD Committee in 2016.
#AllMeansAll – It’s right for all students
Decades of research has consistently and conclusively proven that inclusive education benefits all students and strengthens schools and education systems. A Harvard-led 2016 review of 280 studies from 25 countries found inclusive educational settings “confer substantial short and long-term benefits for students with and without disabilities.”
This was affirmed by the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education in 2018 and in a 2017 meta-analysis of outcomes for 4,800,000 students which found learning environments that include students with disability have no detrimental impact, and some positive impact, on academic performance of non-disabled peers.
Teaching to Diversity
Inclusive education goes beyond ending segregation and achieving integration, and is the final
step in moving towards the model envisioned in BC’s new curriculum, which acknowledges the
unique abilities of all individuals and embraces teaching to diversity.