And find out why ATL is the fastest growing union in the education sector
This will not necessarily mean treating all children ‘equally’ or every child achieving ‘the same’. Some will need special, or different, levels of support or challenge. For teachers, this means planning for effective learning for all pupils - irrespective of disability, heritage, special educational needs, social group, gender, physical or emotional needs, race or culture.
The national curriculum statutory inclusion statement makes this very clear. It is the responsibility of the school to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils, based on the programmes of study for each key stage in the national curriculum. The teacher’s responsibility is to minimise any obstacles to effective learning and plan for all children to participate in the curriculum and achieve the best that they can. This will help to ensure an inclusive classroom.
The national curriculum sets out three key principles that are essential for developing an inclusive curriculum, and ensuring that equal opportunities are met:
Setting suitable learning challenges
This involves teachers planning lessons and teaching in a way that takes into consideration the abilities and needs of the class, and enables children to achieve the learning objectives through a variety of approaches. High expectations of all children’s learning, differentiation and targeted work for individual children will be a feature of this approach.
Responding to pupils' diverse needs
The key to maintaining high expectations of children’s learning is to get to know the children well, and focus upon what it is that they can do. Some children will need extra support if they are struggling with their learning, and others might need to have extension activities. Differentiation will be essential to support children’s learning. This might take the form of differentiated input from the teacher, differentiated tasks set for the children, use of a variety of resources to support children’s needs, support from others in the class – including other children or different expectations in terms of outcome.
The national curriculum clearly states that teachers should respond to pupils' diverse needs through carefully considering the role that the following play:
Overcoming potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of pupils
To overcome potential barriers teachers will, for example, have to take into consideration the following specific needs of children, and how these might affect children’s approaches to learning:
Teachers will also need to be aware of what children bring to their learning, from home and their prior experiences. They need to ensure that children from different cultures, with different religions and worldviews, have full access to the curriculum. They need to ensure that their cultures are reflected in the classroom environment, and that no child is inhibited in their learning because of gender.
Consideration of the following issues might assist the teacher in planning for an inclusive curriculum, and ensuring equal opportunities for all.
In conclusion, equal opportunities, and inclusive practice in the classroom involves careful planning, by all professionals concerned, to ensure effective learning opportunities for all children.
Relevant Acts and documentation concerning equal opportunities