What is inclusive education? It is simple: all students go to their community or neighbourhood school and receive instruction in a common learning environment. This includes students with a disability being included and fully participating with peers who are the same age in a common learning environment (classroom, field trips, playground, and cafeteria). Inclusive education is responsive to the individual needs of every student, supporting them to reach their full potential. It enhances the lives of people with an intellectual disability by fostering a population of students who value and support diversity.
NBACL works with policy makers, educators, parents, school district staff and others to enhance inclusion in schools so that children with an intellectual disability are included in educational and social opportunities in their neighbourhood and community schools.
Key Features of Successful Inclusive Education
Generally, inclusive education will be successful if these important features and practices are followed:
- Accepting unconditionally all students into common learning environments and the life of the school.
- Providing as much support to students, teachers and classrooms as necessary to ensure that all students can participate in their schools and classes.
- Looking at all students at what they can do rather then what they cannot do.
- Teachers and parents have high expectations of all students.
- Developing education goals according to each child’s abilities. This means that students do not need to have the same education goals in order to learn together in regular classes.
- Designing schools and classes in ways that help students learn and achieve to their fullest potential (for example, by developing class time tables for allowing more individual attention for all students).
- Having strong leadership for inclusion from school principals and other administrators.
- Having teachers who have knowledge about different ways of teaching so that students with various abilities and strengths can learn together.
- Having principals, teachers, parents and others work together to determine the most effective ways of providing a quality education in an inclusive environment.
Inclusive Education Month
February is National Inclusive Education month. As part of Inclusive Education Month, NBACL recognizes achievements and presents an award, on behalf of the Canadian Association for Community Living, to an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to inclusive education in their province or community.
Inclusive Education Awards
Each year, national certificates recognizing ongoing commitment to inclusive education are presented by the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), in recognition of teachers, students, and others who work every day to include all students in education and school life.
Hosted by the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, the ceremony is the cornerstone celebration of National Inclusive Education Month (February) for NBACL.
Inclusive education is about how we develop, design and manage schools so that all students learn and participate together. It is about how each and every student is a part of a mosaic of our school communities.
If you know of a person or group who deserves recognition their contributions to Inclusive Education, you can nominate them for an Inclusive Education Award.
For more information, contact Shana Soucy Manager of Inclusive Education (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Supports for Families
NBACL provides supports to families to allow them to assist their sons and daughters in achieving success throughout every educational milestone. This might mean working with schools on developing a plan that meets the educational needs of the student. It could also involve attending meetings as a support to the student and his or her parents.
We also host retreats, and provide information sessions where families can learn about how to be a strong voice for their child, gain valuable information on how to navigate the Inclusive Education System and how to work with educators and other professionals to ensure that their child reaches their fullest potential.
Supports for Educational Professionals
NBACL supports educators of students with an intellectual disability within New Brunswick’s school system to ensure that students are able to be successful in reaching their educational goals. We do this through school-based training (one-on-one, small or large groups). We also offer training sessions to educators and educational assistants where participants come away with practical tools and strategies for enhancing inclusion. We have also developed several resources such as Creating an Inclusive School, a reflection document on Inclusive Education. This tool assists educators in reviewing their strengths and challenges as a starting to point to enhancing and improving inclusion in their school.
Circle of Friends
Circles of Friends is a school-based program where students of all abilities meet as a group and form friendships. It’s a great way for students who may be shy, or who may find themselves on the fringe of school life and students who want to make their schools welcoming places for all to get to know one another. Circles of Friends is student lead. Children plan activities and build friendships. Students of all abilities benefit by learning about each other and themselves. NBACL offers free training to Circle of Friends facilitators, volunteers who support the Circle of Friends within the school.
Best Buddies provides high school and university students with and without an intellectual disability to benefit from one-on-one friendships. Students are paired together and plan fun activities based on their common interests. Best Buddies is a highly successful program and has resulted in lifelong friendships. NBACL’s role is to support and guide Best Buddies volunteer coordinators who are based in schools and universities.