Fortnightly Features from the Network

SINE is a national Network  for education professionals seeking to ensure that they support diverse learners in their classrooms and schools by delivering education services in ways that uphold the principles of inclusive education – both as an educational practice and a human right.

The Network provides a closed Facebook group where educators can connect, collaborate and support one another to initiate, develop and strengthen inclusive educational practices within their school communities and their broader education systems.

Featured content from this fortnight:

  • Loren shared information about hosting visitors from schools in Adelaide and Brisbane at her base school – Thuringowa SHS. The visitors came to discuss and experience inclusive school reform.
  • Loren shared information about a new Future Teachers pilot program in Queensland. Students commence initial teacher education (ITE) in their senior phase of secondary education.
  • New content has been added to the Inclusive Curriculum Design and Delivery page of the School Inclusion – From Theory to Practice website.
  • Julie Causton has released episode 15 and 16 of her podcast – The Inclusion Podcast.
  • Discussion by members on Co-teaching in secondary schools – establishing partnerships, engaging in co-planning, instructional models, achieving parity.
  • Sharing practice occurring in schools.

If you are an Australian educator who is committed to inclusive education, we’d love for you join the SINE Network!

Thuringowa SHS – Best Practice in Education

Thuringowa SHS has been recognised as a leader in offering students inclusive, STEM and Vocational Education and Training (VET) opportunities. The school as won multiple awards for providing excellence in education.

The school has a featured article in the latest addition of Duo Magazine showcasing their practice.

Image: www.duomagazine.com.au

“For the past 5 years all students have learnt, socialised and participated in extra-curricular activities together.

The school embraces the strengths in its diversity, and proactively works to ensure a socially just education for all of its students.”

Inclusive education is a human right that has been clearly defined by the United Nations. It is a high-quality of education that values and celebrates student diversity, and actively works to eliminate barriers to ensure equitable access and participation for all. For students with disability in particular, this results in the application of quality differentiated teaching practice and the provision of reasonable adjustments to ensure that students are empowered to engage in the regular curriculum alongside their peers in general education classrooms.

Inclusive education delivers improved academic and social outcomes for students with disability whilst at school, and also results in more opportunities and long-term benefits post school. Those who have accessed an inclusive education are more likely to engage in further study, be employed, and live independently. This has positive impacts on the health and wellbeing of individuals, and also on the economy.

Inclusive education builds the capability of teachers to effectively deliver curriculum through high-impact pedagogical practices. This high standard of teaching and learning not only ensures success for students with disability, but also results in benefits for their peers. Students without disability attain similar or higher academic results, develop less prejudicial views, and develop social competencies that are supportive of human difference.

Thuringowa SHS is proud to deliver a model of inclusive education that acknowledges and aligns with the United Nations definition. For the past 5 years all students have learnt, socialised and participated in extra-curricular activities together. The school utilises co-teaching (two teachers appointed to one class), teacher aides, assistive technology, improved physical facilities and multidisciplinary collaboration to ensure equitable opportunities and outcomes. The academic achievement of students with disability has increased significantly. Many students have received academic awards that are commensurate with their peers. Students are well represented in sporting teams, in theatre productions, and in enrichment programs like iSTEM. Students participate in work experience, school-based traineeships, and continue on to gainful employment and further study at TAFE and university.

The school embraces the strengths in its diversity, and proactively works to ensure a socially just education for all of its students.

Thuringowa SHS’s commitment to inclusive education sees it featured on the Queensland Department of Education website as an example of best practice. It attracts visitors from other schools across the state and nationally who come to learn and inform their own practices. This year the school was awarded the Regional Showcase Award for excellence in Inclusive Education.

Inclusive Curriculum Delivery

Check out the Inclusive Curriculum Delivery page of the website!

The first addition to this page has been uploaded.

A Year 9 Geography unit of study is featured – demonstrating the curriculum clarity process, and considerations to make the summative assessment task universally accessible.

Along with the video explanation, the relating curriculum clarity template is also available for download.

Keep an eye out for an upcoming installment featuring the design of a lesson that aligns to this unit of study.

If you have a unit of study, summative assessment item or lesson that you would like to see transformed and featured as a practical example, send us an email at sine@allmeansall.org.au

SINE Network

The School Inclusion Network for Educators (SINE) is an initiative of All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education.

SINE is a national Network  for education professionals seeking to ensure that they support diverse learners in their classrooms and schools by delivering education services in ways that uphold the principles of inclusive education – both as an educational practice and a human right.

In line with the values and purpose of All Means All, SINE seeks to connect educators who believe that all students, including students with disability, have the right to a quality inclusive education in the general education environment, alongside peers in the relevant age group, all day and every day, accessing the core curriculum and participating fully as valued members of their school community

SINE strives to fill a much needed space around professional support and collaboration for educators seeking to initiate, develop, and strengthen inclusive educational practices within their school communities and their broader education systems.

By becoming a member of SINE’s national Network (via a closed Facebook group) you can be part of our inclusive education community, connect with other educators, and join us in promoting inclusive education for ALL!

Featured content from this week:

  • SINE reaches 800 members and growing! All states, territories, systems and school-based roles are represented in the network!
  • Illume Learning announces a BIG ‘Australian Inclusive Schooling Conference’ for 2020. Check out their Facebook page for more information.
  • Co-teaching vs Push-in: What’s the difference? A blog post shared from Ready Set Co-teach!
  • New Curriculum Clarity Guides shared on the School Inclusion – From Theory to Practice Website. The guides demonstrate how to align curriculum at year level, to a different year level (substantial adjustment), and to individual learning goals (extensive adjustments). Supporting all students to access their age-equivalent curriculum content within the general education classroom.
  • Discussion about supporting students to access the New QCE senior schooling process in Queensland.
  • ABC Education – free educational resources for Primary and Secondary students. Video games, educational programs, apps, teaching guides, articles, competitions…all on current affairs, world events and curriculum topics. A great way to deliver learning via different modes and interactive tools.
  • Question about providing formula (eg. index laws) in summative assessment tasks for high school mathematics – Can this be a universal support, or is it considered an adjustment for some?
  • StorySign app launched. Powered by #Huawei AI technology, it converts words on a page into Auslan sign language to make story time possible for deaf children and their families.
  • UDL and Co-teaching – A new episode from the UDL in 15 Minutes podcast by Loui Lord Nelson
  • Shout-out to Victorian schools – anyone implementing Co-teaching with Special Educator/General Educator pairs? Anyone implementing LINK-S?

If you are an Australian educator who is committed to inclusive education, we’d love for you join the SINE Network!

Inclusive Curriculum Design

NEW CURRICULUM CLARITY GUIDES AVAILABLE!

In an inclusive classroom, it is important that the teacher has a clear understanding of the intent and the demands of the regular, age-equivalent curriculum content. That is, an ability to articulate exactly what students need to know and be able to do to be successful in the summative assessment task, and to therefore achieve the objectives of the associated Content Descriptions and Achievement Standard from the Australian Curriculum (or the associated Syllabus components for those systems not accessing the stand-alone version of the Australian Curriculum).

Undertaking an alignment process to obtain curriculum clarity – drawing out the links between the assessable content descriptions, assessment questions/tasks, the marking criteria and where they all culminate into the Achievement Standard; allows teachers to identify the exact set of knowledge, understanding and skills that students are required to learn.

Teachers can use this information to map out purposeful learning opportunities and progressions that engage students in input and output experiences which are highly relevant and responsive to the curriculum. This clear focus allows teachers to identify what the core concepts and learning demands are, and to make informed decisions about supporting students to access, participate and learn.  This support can occur through universal design and eliminating unnecessary barriers from the outset, as well as by providing responsive adjustments.

CURRICULUM CLARITY:

The following guides provide a demonstration of the curriculum clarity process used to identify the curriculum intent of a unit of study and its summative assessment. The process commences with clarity of the age-equivalent content, and is then extended to encompass alternate access points and individual learning goals as discussed on the curriculum page here. A template has also been created to guide application.

CHECK OUT THE TEACHING AND LEARNING PAGE OF THE WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you have a unit of study, lesson or summative assessment task that you would like to see transformed and featured as a practical example on the website, contact us via sine@allmeansall.org.au

Fresh new look!

The School Inclusion: From Theory to Practice website has undergone transformation!

We’re excited to share our fresh new look with you…

We are particularly excited about the addition of the new Inclusive Curriculum Delivery page!

Loren is busily creating examples of how to apply universal principles, quality differentiated teaching practice, and adjustments to the regular curriculum to ensure equitable access and learning opportunities. She will be taking real examples of units of study, lessons and assessment items, and modeling how they can be transformed to support all students.

We hope you like the new look! Happy viewing 😁

We’re undergoing transformation!

The School Inclusion – From Theory to Practice website is undergoing transformation.

Loren has been utilising the school holiday period to update the overall look of the website, edit existing content, and add new resources and information.

The list of improvements are continuing to be accomplished, and we look forward to sharing a blog post highlighting the new features with you soon.

In the meantime, keep exploring the site, and feel free to make contact if you have any questions.

Part 3: Personalised Planning

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this three part series, I explored the position and purpose of personalised planning, and touched on the importance of contribution and mindset. As a result of this exploration, it was established that:

  • Personalised Planning should be manifested as a default level of practice afforded to all students through quality, differentiated teaching and learning
  • Recording of Personalised Planning as a specific plan or product should occur for students who require access to ongoing, personalised adjustments and modifications
  • Personalised Planning should be framed from an inclusive purpose and perspective, and should therefore position the student and their parents as valued and empowered contributors
  • The plan should be used to drive an inquiry process that involves regular review and adaptation to ensure that it is responsive, effective and realised in practice.

In order for the obligations of Personalised Planning as a product to be realised with fidelity, it is vital to consider the design and execution of the process. When working in this space, I like to utilise the insights from The Golden Circle and from Design Thinking. Although both of these stem from the sales and business driven world of corporations and companies, their application to the concept of schooling is not completely foreign. It could be considered that educational experiences and outcomes are a product, and that the students themselves are a consumer.

The Golden Circle:

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Typically, we communicate from the what to the why. We do this because it is easier to go from the tangible to the intangible. We can articulate what it is we do, and sometimes how we do it, but we can rarely identify the why that drives us.

When this default, outside-in approach to working is applied to Personalised Planning, the result is an end product with limitation. It becomes a plan that overtly focuses on and identifies the what – the actions, deficits and impacts of the student, and the resulting consequential, ad hoc responses. It is therefore not surprising that the what is rarely matched with purpose and understanding, and rarely ends up being successfully responsive and effective. This is because a knowing/doing gap is created. We establish what we think we want, but we fail to be explicit on how it is going to be achieved or why it is even important. The result is ambiguity and assumption without drive and accountability.

When we flip our thinking and come at Personalised Planning from the inside-out, we take the time to capture the why, and more importantly, we take the time to believe in it. That is, we start by positioning the student first and foremost as a student. We value them as an autonomous, worthy contributor in their education. We come at decisions and actions with their vision and rights at the heart, and with an unrelenting responsibility to providing a high-quality experience and product that matches those aspirations. It takes us out of the reactive and into the proactive.

The moral imperative and acute human perspective that comes from unpacking the why allows us to then shape the how of equity realisation, before finally communicating it as the what.

Design Thinking:

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As humans, we naturally develop patterns of thinking that are modelled on repetitive activities and the knowledge and experiences we commonly access. This allows us to quickly analyse and comfortably respond in familiar situations, but it also has the potential to prevent us from easily accessing and developing new perspectives, understanding, and ways of working.

Personalised Planning is one such pattern that has become a subconscious, automatized process in schools. It centres on patterns and ways of working that are typically derived from the status quo. The outcome is a standardised, inflexible process and product that often negates the core of its purpose – the student, and is instead focused on compliance over vision.

Design Thinking is a methodology that centres on a solutions-based approach to identifying and responding to limitations. It is an interactive process that seeks to understand the consumer, challenge associated assumptions, and reframe problems in human-centric ways in order to prompt alternate strategies and solutions.

Design Thinking lends itself seamlessly to Personalised Planning as it is extremely useful in empathetically identifying and defining problems, understanding the human needs that are involved, and generating many ideas and solutions through broad collaboration and feedback. It has inbuilt mechanisms to trial and review solutions, and adapt responses from a data driven perspective that is regularly and consistently analysed against the needs of the consumer being met.

In practical application, when the conceptual methods of The Golden Circle and Design Thinking are used in combination with inclusive principles and a human rights perspective, the result is a planning process that takes form via the following blueprint:

    1. Student voice is captured: their vision, strengths, experiences, likes, dislikes, interests, contribution… is captured and used to drive decisions
    2. Identification of relevant impacts: collaboratively identifying functional impacts that occur in the school environment as evidenced through data and experience
    3. Identification of barriers: collaboratively identifying the environmental, organisational and pedagogical aspects that impact on equitable access and participation
    4. Whole-school responses: considering what systems and process can be implemented at a whole-school level to respond to and minimise impact
    5. Whole-class responses: considering what whole-class systems and process can be implemented in combination with Universal Design for Learning to respond to and minimise impact
    6. Individualised adjustments and modifications: collaboratively discussing evidence-based options to support any remaining impacts that are not adequately addressed via whole-school and whole-class/UDL responses
    7. Implementation: responses are recorded and communicated, enacted with fidelity, and on-going data is collected to inform review
    8. Review: collaboratively review effectiveness of strategies, gain feedback, and amend responses and implementation as necessary

Rethinking traditional ways of Personalised Planning provides the potential to produce and deliver an educational experience and product that is highly responsive to the consumer. It opens up a collaborative line of inquiry that is fluid and ever evolving, and places the prime responsibility for adaptability and change to be placed on the school system, and not on the student. Ultimately it becomes about acknowledging the student and planning them in from the point of design, not planning them out via separate and different after the fact.

Part 2: Personalised Planning

In Part 1 of this 3 part series, I unpacked the positioning of Personalised Planning. In doing so, I established that it should take on two forms:

  • First and foremost it should be manifested as a default level of practice afforded to all students via quality, differentiated teaching and learning – a contextual, responsive and differential form of support;
  • Secondly, as a purposeful and specific product to communicate an evidence-based, informed response to personalised adjustments and modifications – non-negotiables that allow a student to equitably access and participate in all aspects of education.

When considering Personalised Planning as a specific product, it is important for the framing to be centred on an inclusive purpose and mindset. So often, plans are written from a deficit perspective where every characteristic of the student is pathologised, analysed and managed. This medical model mindset does nothing but pick fault and lists reasons that are masked as responses. This perpetuates failure to identify and separate real functional impacts from stereotypes, bias and general personality and developmental characteristics.

Instead, the purpose of the product should simply be about equity – supporting a student to access, participate and learn in a way that does not result in discrimination or hardship. It should be about valuing the student as an active consumer worthy of high-expectation and commensurate outcomes. It should focus on corroboration over opinion, and see impacts as solvable challenges relating to pedagogy and the environment, and not as limitations of the individual.

In order for this to be achieved, it is important to consider who contributes. For me, the most valuable contributor is the student – the person in personalised. The old slogan of ‘nothing about us without us’ could not be more fitting. Empowering the student to have autonomy and input into decisions about them is not only dignifying, but also enhances the potential for success. I recognise that capturing student voice may be difficult in some circumstances for a number of reason, but this aspect should not go by without authentic attempt.

In addition to Classroom Teacher input, parents should also be positioned as partners in the process. Their input, expertise and lived experience relating to their child is invaluable.

The Personalised Planning process should not be a competition about whose perspective is more important, nor that one side is right and the others are wrong. Instead, it should be a collaboration that draws together the strengths of differing perspective and insight.

This powerful collaboration should be used to drive an inquiry into the educational experiences of the student:

  • What is the vision of the student?
  • What problems of practice and impacts are being experienced?
  • What can and should be addressed at a whole-school and whole-class level?
  • What should be responded to in quality, differentiated teaching and learning?
  • What needs to be addressed at a more personalised level?
  • How can these impacts be identified and prioritised?
  • What evidence-based actions can be taken?
  • What is the plan?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • When will it be reviewed?
  • What’s working? What’s not? How do we know?

There is no point to any Personalised Planning if it is not responsive, and if it is not meeting the need. Check it, address it, and change it. You don’t always have to get it right the first time. Look to the student as your main marker for success. Their feedback and outcomes is what determines the difference between assumptions on a page and precise personalised, effective investment.

The true power of Personalised Planning is not in the product itself, but instead in the process and in the impact.

*This is the second part of a 3 part blog series that explores Personalised Planning

Part 1: Personalised Planning

The purpose, development, title and importance of personalised planning differs across educational systems and sectors right around the nation. Some refer to the products as Individual Education Plans, others Individual Support Plans. In Queensland, for example, personalised planning is broken into a variety of sub-plans that fulfil different decisions, such as: Personalised Learning entries, Support Provisions, and Individual Curriculum Plans. In some states and systems personalised planning is mandatory for students with disability, and are a non-negotiable requirement to draw down targeted funding and resources. Regardless of these nuanced differences, there is a place for personalised planning; and who contributes, how the products are situated and what they aim to achieve, is vital to establishing and framing their value.

Consider for a moment the most recent time that you have been involved in a personalised planning scenario…

Who were you planning for? What role did you play? Why were you doing the planning? Did you feel comfortable with the planning process? What was the outcome? Is the plan still current and at the forefront?

My early-career experiences regarding personalised planning were always about accountability, compliance, documenting the deficit, presumption, and stereotypes. The process was time consuming, and even after all of that hard work they were filed away and rarely looked at or referred to; unless needed as some form of proof that we were doing something to support the student. Teachers found them difficult to connect with, particularly in a high school setting where they saw multiple classes of students sporadically across a timetable. They were a record of the ideal supports and services that would benefit the student, but they were not necessarily contextual or realised at the practice level. This was because of a disconnect between planner and plan, student and plan, and teacher and plan. An anecdote of experience that is still present in many schools today.

This status quo approach to personalised planning is driven by a reasons focus. That is, the plan is framed and compiled to adhere to the expectations of people and factors external from the student. Simply put, they’re born out of compliance. This bares results that are often anything but personal and are not supportive of a student’s true vision, contribution and experience.

Personalised planning actually sits within the bigger principle of Planning for Personalised Learning. There is obligation and direction around this which sits at the legislation level. The Planning for Personalised Learning and Support: A National Resource falls out of the Disability Standards for Education (DSE). It articulates that schools have a responsibility for maximising the outcomes and wellbeing of all students, and for providing access to high-quality education this is free from discrimination. For this to be achieved, it is stated that educators need to provide personalised learning that aims to fulfil the diverse capabilities of each student. This is consistent with the principles embodied within General Comment No. 4 (UNCRPD: Article 24) and in The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.

As a result, quality differentiated teaching and learning should be the baseline for all students. This differentiation should be responsive to analysis of real-time student need, and should sit alongside teaching and learning experiences that are clearly aligned to the curriculum in its design entirety. An expectation that is strengthened through alignment of the AITSL Proficient Teacher standards and the Australian Curriculum design and implementation provisions.

Therefore, the main record of personalised planning should actually be evident in teacher curriculum planning, and in lesson execution. A living, breathing form of personalised planning that is highly contextual, responsive, and purposeful to the individual experiences that occur for all students with and without disability across different subjects and learning environments.

Beyond this scope, however, exist functional impacts that require the consistent response of individualised adjustments and modifications. Although these may still be picked up and catered for within a well-designed lesson, they are usually non-negotiables that on a daily basis either have the power to restrict or enable a student with disability to be successful. Therefore, it is at this level that the purposeful necessity for personalised planning as a product is realised.

*This is the first part in a 3 part blog series that explores Personalised Planning