Educational inclusion means that schools and other educational institutions are open to everyone. Schools that are inclusive celebrate differences and support the learning of each and every student by meeting individual needs.
Educational Inclusion is also where education systems promote inclusion through studentcentred learning and teaching practices.
Inclusive education systems implement practices to ensure that all children, including those who are disadvantaged or have disabilities, reach their educational potential.
Inclusion in education has been defined as
"... a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing exclusion within and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision which covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that it is the responsibility of the state to educate all children. " (Unicef, 2012, p.8)
This definition acknowledges diversity in society. There are many reasons that could lead to children receiving a poor education. Having a disability, coming from a low socioeconomic background, being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, being a refugee or having a mental health problem can lead to experiences of low expectations, discrimination, and stigma. An inclusive school caters to all learning needs.
International research has shown a number of benefits to inclusive education.
Inclusive education occurs within mainstream schools, rather than in separate or special schools for students with disability. Special schools are expensive and, in some countries, are not available to poor families or communities. Some children may also need to travel long distances from their home to access the nearest special school.
Good quality education helps a person to earn a living, which has benefits for the individual, his or her family and the community. Unfortunately, few students from special schools obtain jobs in the regular labour market and, instead, miss out on the opportunity to earn a living or may earn only a limited wage in specialist or segregated settings.
Schools are part of communities, and inclusive schools help build welcoming communities. Research also shows that all children, including those with disabilities, achieve academically and develop strong social and interpersonal skills through inclusive education.
An included student is, well …just one of the kids.