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Implications for Policy and Practice

Introduction to Inclusive Education Policy Statement

The policy document chosen is the “Inclusive education policy statement” by the Queensland Government, Australia defines inclusive practice in education as a part of early childhood development as students being able to access and completely participate in the process of knowledge gaining and learning along with their fellow students and peers (Department of education, state of Queensland 2018). This education will be supported by innovative strategies of teaching which are customised to meet specific, individual needs of the children. Inclusion as a characteristic is a part of school life and should be supported by everyday practices of teachers and the policies made by the government.

This definition of inclusive education here supports the idea of inclusive education and learning based on evidence. It talks about engagement of teachers in collaborative planning and teaching and also designing specific, tailored strategies of teaching for specific set of children and students based on their educational needs and special needs as well. Continuous learning for teachers in their professional career along with mentorship is promoted in the context of this policy as an approach in teaching method. Also, the idea of including the children and the students in their learning process plays a major part of this policy where continuous assessment in the form of formative assessment can be applied to help improve on the overall learning and teaching outcome.

The document is written by the Department of education, Queensland Government and is intended for schools, authorities, teachers, children, students and communities as well (Department of education, state of Queensland 2018). It applies department wise- to the entire state – including all state schools and all kinds and types of educational settings as well.

The images present in the document are that of children of different cultural and ethnic origins sitting in the same school setting and classroom to study. It also depicts teachers teaching students by helping them in the classroom setting. It takes into cognizance the presence of a variety of cultural, racial and ethnic characteristics of the students while depicting them.

The special focus of inclusive education towards specially-abled and disabled children is missing in the document. Also, the imagery of teachers with students is missing as well. Also the new policies and structures are being introduced without practitioners having the time and support to examine critically the underlying assumptions about disability, difference and inclusion that underpin their practices (Bourke 2010). There is a lack of proper roadmap or plan to support inclusive education. There is still the presence of schools for the specially-abled children who might still lead to segregation and exclusion to some extent. There needs to be a proper road-map planned for implementing this policy into realization to actually include the principle of inclusive education in practice (Bourke 2010).

Reimaging the Document

The ideas of inclusive education presented in the document abide by the general idea of inclusive practice of including every child in the process of learning and education. The idea presented in the document discusses the accessibility and participation of students and children in their educational learning process like it should. However, the document should also reflect upon the outcome that should be positive learning outcomes the child should gain as a process of inclusive education. It also doesn’t focus much upon the idea of supporting children’s rights as a part of inclusive practice in education. Focus on child’s development and an overall ecological system’s approach to child’s development – including the several factors influencing the cultural context as well such as living conditions, socio-economic background, status of poverty etc should also be acknowledged when talking about inclusive education.

The policy document does provide a framework for acting out the inclusive education policy statewide and the broader principles for the same, however, it doesn’t demarcate or delineate what each member of this inclusive education policy such as – the community, family, student, teacher , school and authority have to specifically do to achieve this. It also discusses and mentions children from all kinds of diverse backgrounds including – cultural, racial, ethnic, disability, LGBTQ, children with mental health issues etc. However, it does not specifically mention - children requiring complex social, emotional or behavioral needs, or children who experience any kinds of social, economic or geographic disadvantage or children who are at a risk of any kind of abuse, neglect or violence in the family.

The document can be made more graphic and more eye-catching for children by including hand-made drawings by children in the draft of the policy as imagery. This will help grab their attention as well. The document can also better explain the number of stakeholders and people responsible for making inclusive education a reality and how each stakeholders’ viewpoint and work is essential for its success. It can also provide specific training modules and teaching programs for educators and teachers and specific guidelines for the principles and school in-charges as well. A brief mention of the teaching aides required by the teachers in practically framing different lessons for different groups of people can also be pointed out.

Conclusion on Inclusive Education Policy Statement

The document is a promising policy document for practicing inclusive education. It only needs to be more visible and to have more discussion around the practical implications of the policy and how to achieve the intended goal with specific outlines for each stakeholder as well. Also, a brief mention of teacher’s training requirements and aides will also be very useful in planning evidence based inclusive education as intended by the policy document. If planned well, the intended policy will go a long way in practically implementing inclusive education.

References for Inclusive Education Policy Statement

Bourke, P. E. (2010). Inclusive education reform in Queensland: Implications for policy and practice. International Journal of Inclusive Education14(2), 183-193.

Department of Education, State of Queensland, Australia. (2018). Inclusive education-policy statement. Retrieved from : https://education.qld.gov.au/student/inclusive-education/Documents/policy-statement-booklet.pdf

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