“I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realised I was somebody.” ~ Lily Tomlin
School Inclusion – From Theory to Practice
School Inclusion – From Theory to Practice is an online platform created by Loren Swancutt to share and unpack school-level design, implementation and leadership processes that support the realisation of inclusive education in Australian schools and school systems.
As a passionate, inclusive educator and the substantive Head of Inclusive Schooling at a State High School in Queensland, Loren facilitates the behind-the-scenes insight into authentic inclusive classrooms and broader school experiences.
Loren has a Bachelor of Education (Primary and Special Education) and a Masters of Inclusive Education, both from Charles Sturt University. She has been teaching for 10 years and has been a substantive Head of Inclusive Schooling since 2014. Loren has previously fulfilled roles as an Acting Head of Special Education Services, Special Education Teacher in Charge, Acting Deputy Principal, and as a Coach in the North Queensland Region State Schools Team. Her coaching role saw her supporting Principals and their school leadership teams to advance inclusive education practices in their school contexts. Loren is commencing her professional doctorate of education in 2020.
Loren has used her professional experience as an accomplished classroom educator in combination with her exceptional leadership skills to successfully transform whole-school systemic practices. This has resulted in the development and sustained implementation of an inclusive schooling model at a regular government High School in her local area. In particular, Loren is passionate about the inclusion of students with complex learning profiles, accessible curriculum design, and transforming research into sustainable practice.
Loren brings her leadership and experience into her role as the National Convenor for the School Inclusion Network for Educators (SINE). SINE is an initiative of All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education. In line with All Means All, SINE seeks to connect educators who believe that all students, regardless of their background or ability have the right to quality, inclusive education in the general education environment alongside their same age peers, accessing the core curriculum and participating as fully valued members of their school community.
Despite decades of unequivocal research supporting inclusive schooling and its superior outcomes for students with disability, the realisation of inclusion from theory to practice is still limited within the Australian educational landscape.
Inclusive schooling requires a commitment to transforming traditional practices and mindsets, skilled and highly responsive pedagogical approaches, and strong leadership that is underpinned by solid professional knowledge and understanding. The demands of which can be overwhelming, with schools often experiencing a disconnect between accessing and interpreting strong theoretical frameworks and references, and transforming them into successful reform and practice. Therefore, the work of Loren, SINE and All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education is focused on bridging the the knowing/doing gap, and building capability across schools and systems.
Loren’s work is guided by a human rights framework including the principles embodied in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the most authoritative expression of the human rights of people with disability, including the right to inclusive education under Article 24 which was defined and clarified in August 2016 in General Comment No. 4 (Right to Inclusive Education).