Taking stock of #ausvotes2019 and QCIE’s political engagement activities:
What has been said about Inclusive Education?
Labor’s $300 million boost for students with a disability
A Shorten Labor Government will invest an extra $300 million to ensure students with disability get the support they need at school. The numbers of students assessed as eligible for disability funding in Australia has doubled from about 220,000 to around 450,000. Our commitment is in addition to the disability loading included as part of needs based school funding. It will be allocated on a per student basis consistent with the current disability loading. The extra funding will deliver individualised learning for students with disability by paying for more teachers, teacher aides, teacher training, updated technology, or upgrades to school facilities to improve access. We believe that every child can learn and progress, and that every child should be safe, nurtured and challenged wherever they go to school.
Schools must be accountable for how the extra investment is improving education for students with disability. Labor wants every school, every classroom, in every system to be inclusive. Today’s announcement comes on top of Labor’s record investment in public schools. Public schools teach around three-quarters of students with disability. Source
We are supporting students with disability
The Morrison Government will invest almost $29 billion for students with disability from 2018 to 2029. This record level of funding will grow by 5.1 per cent on average per student with disability each year. This funding is in addition to the base per student funding amount provided for all students at each school, and in addition to the funding provided by the states and territories. Our funding also recognises the individual needs of students, and provides real needs-based funding consistently across Australia. Under the special deals on schools funding Labor signed, funding for students with disability was inconsistent across the states and territories. Each state had a different definition of disability which meant a student with a disability could be funded in one state but not another. Under the Coalition’s reforms, the Commonwealth will provide the same level of funding for a student with a disability regardless of the state in which they live, and funding increases with the student’s level of need. Source
Champion inclusive education and employment
Inadequate funding for disability in schools is negatively impacting the education experiences for disabled students and their families, often resulting in segregation and isolation for these students.
The Greens will:
• Support schools to develop inclusive education practices in line with existing human rights commitments, as part of our commitment to a well funded world-class education system;
• Develop a new national standard of inclusive education training in alignment with professional standards for teachers and world’s best practice;
• Give all pre-service and in-service teachers and principals the opportunity to train, retrain and be regularly upskilled in inclusive education practices, by providing a pool of $100m per year for four years to universities; Source
What do we want to see happen?
Where is inclusive education up to in QLD?
THERE WAS A REVIEW, SOME RECOMMENDATIONS HAVE BEEN ACTED ON AND THERE IS A NEW AND CLEAR INCLUSIVE EDUCATION POLICY. THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION NEEDS TO INVEST MORE IN TEACHER EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT. THAT WAY TEACHERS CAN GET ON WITH EVERY DAY TEACHING OF ALL STUDENTS AND FAMILIES FEEL WELCOME AT THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL.
IS a lack of funding the main issue?
Funding IS an issue (no matter which school a child goes to). Parents report, however, that schools prioritise their funding differently and can find funding when they are committed to inclusion.
Also, support is not just about funding. There are many strategies that teachers can use so that students with disability can be included well. It is a mistake to equate support with teacher aide hours. In fact it can be to the detriment of good inclusive practice.
DO YOU WANT MORE INVESTMENT IN SPECIAL SCHOOLS AND SPECIAL ED UNITS?
NO. MORE INVESTMENT IS NEEDED TO ENSURE ALL STUDENTS ARE INCLUDED AND TEACHERS ARE SUPPORTED TO INCLUDE ALL STUDENTS TO ACCESS THE CURRICULUM. THAT INVESTMENT WILL IMPROVE THE EXPERIENCE FOR ALL TEACHERS AND STUDENTS. STUDENTS WITH DISABILITY DON’T NEED TO BE ANYWHERE SPECIAL. THEY NEED TO BE INCLUDED WITH THEIR PEERS AT THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL.
As per Down Syndrome Australia's Position Statement "At a systemic level, a lack of good inclusive practice across the general education system is not a valid reason for governments to continue to fund and support segregation. Instead, a new single approach to education must be established that meets the needs of all students. Schools need to be supported to develop inclusive approaches to education and to provide appropriate supports to enable all students to attend and participate in mainstream schools that adopt inclusive practices. There are strong economic arguments to support the abandonment of an expensive dual system. "
DO YOU WANT LIFTS AND ACCESSIBLE TOILETS IN EVERY SCHOOL?
ACCESS TO SCHOOL FACILITIES IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF AN INCLUSIVE EDUCATION AND YES THERE SHOULD BE INVESTMENT IN ENSURING QUEENSLAND’S OLDER SCHOOLS ARE UPGRADED TO BE MORE ACCESSIBLE FOR STUDENTS, TEACHERS AND FAMILIES. BUT AN INCLUSIVE SCHOOL IS MORE THAN RAMPS AND SAFE PATHS. AN INCLUSIVE SCHOOL MEANS THAT STUDENTS AND FAMILIES FEEL WELCOME AND ARE SUPPORTED BEFORE THEY EVEN STEP THROUGH THE SCHOOL GATE. THIS MEAN ACCESS TO THE EVIDENCE, POLICY AND RESOURCES THAT SUPPORT ALL STUDENTS LEARNING TOGETHER.
WILL THE NDIS SUPPORT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITY?
NOT EVERY STUDENT WITH A DISABILITY WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR SUPPORT UNDER A NDIS PLAN. ALSO, NOT EVERY STUDENT WHO NEEDS SUPPORT OR ADJUSTMENTS AT SCHOOL HAS A DISABILITY. ALL STUDENTS WILL BENEFIT FROM GREATER INVESTMENT IN TEACHER EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT FROM STATE AND FEDERAL DEPARTMENTS OF EDUCATION.
WHEN YOU SAY ‘ALL STUDENTS’ HOW CAN ALL STUDENTS BE TOGETHER?
MANY FAMILIES HEAR “YOUR CHILD ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH TO GO TO A REGULAR SCHOOL”. “YOUR CHILD IS TOO FAR BEHIND THE OTHER CHILDREN. S/HE IS NOT READY FOR REGULAR SCHOOL.” THESE OBJECTIONS REFLECT LOW EXPECTATIONS RATHER THAN A GENUINE PREDICTION BASED ON KNOWLEDGE OF THE CHILD.
QUEENSLAND’S INCLUSIVE EDUCATION POLICY AFFIRMS THE RIGHT OF ALL CHILDREN TO BE ENROLLED IN A MAINSTREAM SCHOOL. SCHOOLS ARE REQUIRED TO MAKE REASONABLE ADJUSTMENTS SO THAT ALL CHILDREN CAN PARTICIPATE. TEACHERS MAY FEEL CONFRONTED BY CERTAIN BEHAVIOURS AND MAY NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO. IT IS GOOD EDUCATIONAL PRACTICE, HOWEVER, TO DEVELOP FUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOUR PLANS SO THAT THEY CAN RESPOND POSITIVELY WHEN CHILDREN’S BEHAVIOUR IS CHALLENGING.
What is 'inclusive culture' and is it the same as inclusive education?
Quote from Catia Panetta March 2019:
"The term "inclusive culture" is often used by the segregated education services industry, to downplay the problem with segregated settings - it's a known strategy - they say that you can have an "inclusive culture" within a segregated setting, meaning that people are welcomed and accommodation is provided even if disability segregation is happening. The term "inclusive" in the context of education is not however a meant to be a synonym for "welcoming" or "friendly", etc - inclusive education is a fundamental human right recognised in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.
The meaning and scope of the term "inclusive education" is outlined in General Comment No.4 which is the CRPD Committee's guidance to governments about how they need to comply with their legal obligations under Article 24 of the CRPD (Right to Education). The term "inclusive education" therefore has a specified meaning in terms of international human rights law, it is not a matter of personal belief. One of the main reasons General Comment No.4 was issued by the CRPD Committee is because the terms "inclusion" and "inclusive education" were being misappropriated and misused or given such broad and vague meanings, often deliberately to give the appearance of legitimacy to systems and practices that were anything but inclusive, including segregation practices, that this made it almost impossible for real reform to take place and for progressive realisation to occur, as demanded by Article 24. An important aspect of General Comment No.4 is that is defines "exclusion", "segregation" and "integration" as distinct from inclusion. Segregation for a long time has been at the top of the CRPD Committee's concerns around the realisation of the right to inclusive education and General Comment No.4 makes a very strong statement that special schools and special classes are a form of disability discrimination."
Link to the General Comment No.4 in full -http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CRPD/GC/RighttoEducation/CRPD-C-GC-4.doc
WHAT IS SysteMS advocacy?
Federal Election 2019
Dear Australian Politician
The purpose of this paper is to set out Down Syndrome Australia’s (DSA) position on education for children with Down syndrome. This paper provides a basis for advocacy to government for systemic changes to the education system in Australia and makes specific recommendations to improve access to inclusion.
Down Syndrome Australia recommends that the Australian and state governments commit to transition from a dual system of special schools and mainstream schools to a single universally accessible and inclusive education system, in accordance with its UNCRPD obligations. This is to ensure progressive realisation of Article 24 and best evidence practice for educating students with disability. Governments must move as expeditiously and effectively as possible towards the goal of ensuring a
universally accessible and fully inclusive education system and adopt clear targets and timetables. "