The principles of inclusive schooling recognise that every individual has the capacity to learn, and that all learners should have access to a quality, rigorous curriculum that promotes both high-expectations and equity.
However, curriculum access is often a component of schooling that is identified as being of significant barrier to the realisation of inclusion for students with disability; particularly students who experience impacts relating to their cognitive and intellectual functioning.
Responses to variances in student curriculum progression and support needs often centre on the notion of separate:
Students undertaking learning in a separate location (both within and outside of the regular classroom), often from a set of separate curricula, utilising separate teachings and tasks, with separate expectations that result in separate outcomes.
The Australian Curriculum provides opportunity to retire the response of separate!
The Australian Curriculum is designed so that all students can access rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences from the one, general curriculum within age-appropriate contexts.
Teachers can utilise the Australian Curriculum to deliver teaching and learning programs that are responsive to diversity within regular, heterogeneous classrooms. It provides tools and approaches that support teachers to seamlessly address variances in cognitive, physical and social development.
The following design aspects of the Australian Curriculum can be utilised to support the realisation of inclusive curriculum delivery:
- The on-line format provides flexibility in how the curriculum is viewed. It can be viewed by learning area, by multiple year levels, or by year level across learning areas.A variety of filters can also be applied to minimise or expand the amount and/or type of curriculum information that is shown – allowing teachers to purposefully target what is pertinent to their planning requirements.
- In particular, utilising the multiple year level functionality allows teachers to identify the linear progression of curriculum complexity, and to provide learning opportunities that incorporate various stages of learning relating to the one content area. For more information on how to plan for various stages of learning (modified curriculum), access the Curriculum tab of the School Inclusion – from theory to practice website here.
- Each curriculum learning area can be filtered to show authentic applications of the General Capabilities and Coss-curriculum Priorities alongside learning area content. Identifying the General Capabilities and Cross-curriculum Priorities provides opportunity to add depth and richness to learning.
- The three-dimensional design (learning area content, general capabilities, cross-curriculum priorities) provides flexibility to cater for student diversity by: Teaching targeted skills in literacy, numeracy and personal and social capability alongside learning area content – reducing the need for such skills to be taught in isolation.
- Using the general capabilities to personalise age-equivalent content and contexts – using the continua to make adjustments to how students engage with curriculum input and output experiences.
- Aligning individual learning goals to age-equivalent content and contexts – utilising the general capabilities continua to provide multiple opportunities for students to develop essential skills and work toward highly-individualised learning goals across all content areas.
- Each content descriptor within a learning area is linked to the Scootle community – a national repository that provides Australian schools with more than 20,000 digital resources aligned to the Australian Curriculum. Each descriptor also has an elaboration, providing further information and teaching ideas.
- Work Sample Portfolios are provided for each Year level of each learning area – providing a sample of what curriculum output typically looks like at each stage of learning.
- Illustrations of Practice provide real-life applications and insight into how the Australian Curriculum is utilised to address student diversity.
In summary, the Australian Curriculum provides a wealth of opportunity for all students to engage in learning within the general education classroom. It provides teachers with the necessary tools to equitably build on student interests, strengths, goals and learning needs without having to default to the application of separate.