Inclusive education means that all students attend and are welcomed by their neighbourhood schools in age-appropriate, regular classes and are supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of the life of the school.
Inclusive education is about how we develop and design our schools, classrooms, programs and activities so that all students learn and participate together.
Neighbourhood schools are the heart of our communities, and Inclusion BC believes they are essential for a quality inclusive education system. Therefore we believe it is important to support a public education system in B.C.
Benefits of Inclusive Education
All children benefit from inclusive education. It allows them to:
- Develop individual strengths and gifts, with high and appropriate expectations for each child.
- Work on individual goals while participating in the life of the classroom with other students their own age.
- Involve their parents in their education and in the activities of their local schools.
- Foster a school culture of respect and belonging. Inclusive education provides opportunities to learn about and accept individual differences, lessening the impact of harassment and bullying.
- Develop friendships with a wide variety of other children, each with their own individual needs and abilities.
- Positively affect both their school and community to appreciate diversity and inclusion on a broader level.
Why is inclusive education important?
It is important because as Canadians, we value our diverse communities. These communities start at school, where all students learn to live alongside peers. They learn together; they play together; they grow and are nurtured together.
How can I make the school in my community more inclusive?
Ask your school principal what is being done to support teachers to include students with diverse needs in the classroom.
What should I expect?
You can expect the school to provide a plan to support teachers and students through good inclusive practices —like collaboration, team work, innovative instructional practices, peer-strategies, and more
History of Inclusive Education
The fundamental right of children with developmental disabilities to receive an education was the first issue to mobilize the community living movement in the 1950s. At the time, it was widely believed that children with developmnetal disabilities could not learn. The government, therefore, accepted no responsibility for their education.
Parents of children with developmental disabiliteis, understanding the potential of their sons and daughters to learn and grow, responded by creating their own schools in places like church basements and private homes.
In 1955, parents created a provincial organization, which eventuall grew into Inclusion BC. Ever sinces, families have steadily advocated for changes in government laws and policies so that their children with disabilities would have the same right to be educated as other school-aged children.
Government slowly accepted responsibility for funding parent-run schools and eventually agreed that not just funding, but public schooling, should be avialable to children with disabiliteis.
Although the first educational programs developed by school boards were segregated, they successfully laid the groundwork for parents and others to call for the inclusion of children in general education classes.
The move to inclusive education throughout BC came in the late 1980s.