Creating a fully inclusive learning environment is one of the biggest challenges facing schools, but that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task. Find out how schools can boost inclusion for special needs children, here.
There are plenty of practical and logistical challenges facing schools, especially in relation to catering for the needs of any special needs children who are attending. Everybody understands that creating a fully inclusive learning environment is non-negotiable, but achieving this goal isn’t always straightforward!
Whether it’s changing ingrained beliefs about a school’s approach to inclusion, or removing some of the physical barriers that prevent certain students from being able to access the level of education they deserve, schools often face an uphill battle with regards to inclusion and special educational needs law.
So, in the following post, we’ve grouped together some simple, actionable tips any school can implement to boost inclusion for special needs children.
9 Tips for Schools to Improve Inclusion for Special Needs Children
1. Have a Dedicated Department for Special Needs Children
Catering for special needs children can be difficult in a traditional classroom setting. This is why it’s important for schools to set up a dedicated department, or employee members of staff, to support special needs children.
This will allow students to enjoy a blended education, where they can spend as much or as little time in a traditional setting as they need. It will also provide the individual attention and support they might require, depending on their circumstances.
2. Make the Most of Technology
The advancements in classroom technology mean that inclusivity is more achievable than ever before. Children with disabilities can benefit from a range of different devices in the classroom, which are all designed to let them contribute to what is going on around them. This can make them feel a valued part of any lesson.
A great example would be personal response devices. These are handheld devices that allow students to anonymously input an answer to a question on a screen or whiteboard, which means everybody has an equal opportunity to contribute. Encouraging and promoting the use of these sorts of technologies is a great way to encourage inclusivity.
3. Invest in Alternative Training for Teachers
Younger teachers will naturally be more accustomed to promoting inclusivity in their classrooms, as this now forms a big part of their training. However, it may be more difficult for older and more experienced teachers to adapt their teaching methods so that they can promote inclusivity. This is why alternative training is so important.
This will open the possibility for teachers to use a range of different instructional methods. This provides more choice for students to approach learning in whichever way they feel comfortable.
4. Create Clear Profiles for Each Student and Their Respective Needs
Every teacher knows that no two students are the same. For that reason, and especially in relation to special needs students, it’s important to create clear profiles for each student and what their respective needs are in the classroom.
This will also be extremely beneficial in situations where a teacher is away and is replaced by a substitute teacher. They will have all the information they need to deliver a similarly inclusive lesson.
5. Stick to Assigned Seating Plans in Lessons
Students might not be the biggest fans of assigned seating plans, but they have their purpose and merit. When students are allowed to sit where they like in the classroom, there’s a distinct chance that cliques will form and a divide will emerge.
Assigned seating plans allow every student to feel fully integrated, which is essential for fostering genuine feelings of inclusivity.
6. Improve Awareness Among Other Students
No matter how many changes you make to the curriculum or your staff’s teaching methods, a school won’t be inclusive unless its students are well-educated. They should be fully aware of how they can also create an inclusive environment for their peers.
This education should include what inclusivity means, and what steps they can make as individuals so that any other student with special needs isn’t left isolated.
7. Create and Stick to a Strong Anti-Bullying Policy
For every student to feel as though they are properly included in school, they need to know that they are well protected. For this to be the case, a school needs to create and stick to a strong disciplinary and anti-bullying policy.
If anyone is found to be acting in a way that detracts from inclusion, then the policy should outline appropriate consequences and punishments. The important aspect of the punishments is that they encourage students to act in an inclusive manner, supporting anyone with special educational needs.
8. Open Up Effective Dialogue with Students’ Families
Sometimes it’s not always easy to get a full understanding of a student’s circumstances. That’s why schools should strive to open up an effective stream of dialogue with every student’s family, particularly for students with special educational needs.
By doing so, a school will get valuable insight into that student’s personality, and anything that might affect their ability to perform and socialise in school.
9. Constantly Assess and Revise the Approach to Special Needs Inclusion
When it comes to special needs inclusion, there’s no use in simply standing still. It’s important to constantly assess and revise the approach the school takes. This way, you can decide whether any changes need to be made based on the introduction of new students to the school.
This can probably be done on a bi-annual basis to make sure that all the actions that are taken are up-to-date and appropriate for the students who are attending.
Does Your School Need to Make Changes to Special Needs Inclusion?
Achieving a fully inclusive environment should be the target for every school, but it will take plenty of careful planning and commitment from every member of staff, from top to bottom. Hopefully these tips will give you a better understanding of how you can promote inclusivity for special needs children in your school.
Have you got any more tips related to promoting inclusivity?
Please leave them in the comments below!