The hearing heard testimonies from many students and families about the barriers experienced when attempting to consult with schools around appropriate and impactful adjustments, school disciplinary measures, and attendance and engagement.
The Disability Standards for Education legislates the requirements to consult students and families. However, barriers to consultation are prevalent and ongoing.
During this Cafe, Haley will support educators to understand their obligations to consult, and what consultation is and is not. She will also provide insight into how educators can engage in consultation in a way that is supportive of students with disability.
This week the Disability Royal Commission conducted its second hearing into education.
The hearing explored the barriers experienced by students with disability in accessing a safe, quality and inclusive school education. It also considered the resulting life course impacts on students and families when barriers prevent equitable schooling experience. The hearing heard testimony from students, parents, advocacy groups, organisations, academics, and education department representatives.
Focus topics included:
– The impact of absences, suspensions, exclusions and expolsions
– The re-engagement of students when they have experienced suspensions, exclusions and expolsions
– The provision of adjustments and supports, and the barriers to making and receiving reasonable adjustments
– Individualised planning
– Use of restrictive practices
– Teacher training and qualification requirements
– The resulting impacts on life course and mental health of students who have experienced barriers, including the transition to higher education and employment.
Twitter is also a great place to hear reflections and comments regarding hearing testimonies. Follow the hashtag #DisabilityRC. The School Inclusion Network for Educators (SINE) have a Twitter presence, and has been contributing to the commentary. Follow us @sineinclusion
Coming off the back of a tumultuous Term 2, Term 3 is now in full swing for most states, or nearing its start in others.
Check out the information below to catch up on what’s been happening at the Network, and what’s to come.
Collaboration with the Inclusive School Communities Project
The start of Term 3 has signalled the end of a series of 6 webinars that Loren hosted in collaboration with JFA Purple Orange and their Inclusive School Communities Project. The webinars covered topics relating to curriculum adjustments for students with disability, and engaging in data analysis and cycles of inquiry to monitor the advancement of inclusive schooling practices.
In addition, Loren is currently working on associated Q&A responses to accompany the recorded webinars, and is producing 2 tools which will be added to the Inclusive School Practices Toolkit on the site.
Inclusive Education Cafe
The first cafe for Term 3 is happening Wednesday next week at 3.45-5.15 AEST.
Following the results of a survey that gave SINE members an opportunity to select preferred topics, the 3 sessions this Term will focus on curriculum adjustments:
Loren is in the process of creating sequences of achievement that support inclusive curriculum provision.
The sequences support teachers to make decisions about associated curriculum content and complexity across the strands and sub-strands of learning areas to ensure that all students can access age-equivalent content. This supports the curriculum clarity process associated with making substantial curriculum adjustments.
Sequences of achievement for Mathematics and Science are currently available, and English and History are in the final stages of development and will be added soon.
The Disability Standards for Education (DSE) are undergoing review.
“The Standards help to make sure students with disability can access and participate in education and training on the same basis as students without disability. This supports people with disability to be able to participate fully in society and have more opportunities throughout their life.”
We encourage all inclusive educators to contribute to the consultation process. This is an opportunity to influence the strengthening of the DSE to better reflect the human right to inclusive education as outlined in the UNCRPD.
The social distancing requirements of COVID-19 presented a prime opportunity for Loren to re-design the popular Inclusive Education Cafe’s. The Cafe’s were once an opportunity only accessible in person by those in Loren’s school district/region.
Loren came up with concept when the Queensland Department of Education released its Inclusive Education Policy in mid 2018. Loren identified a need for educators to have an opportunity to come together and learn about the practical application of the policy, to share in challenges of practice, and to celebrate improvement.
Since the inception, the Cafe’s have grown to include focused professional learning and network coaching on topics including data analysis, action planning, whole-school approaches to differentiated teaching and learning, Universal Design for Learning, Co-teaching, curriculum adjustments, and supporting student engagement. The Cafe’s also grew to include educators from Catholic and Independent schools from Loren’s local area.
The Cafe is now delivered in partnership with the School Inclusion Network for Educators (SINE). The Cafe has broadened to suit a national audience, and brings together educators from across all States and sectors of education. The Cafe’s are planned to be delivered three times per Term, and occur via Zoom video conferencing.
Feedback from the first two Cafe’s has been very positive. Educators enjoy the collaborative and practical nature of the sessions, and take away great ideas and learning.
Examples of feedback provided via survey:
The recordings from the Cafe’s, along with their associated resources are available on Loren’s website.
During the month of May, Loren will be presenting two free webinars for Australian school leaders and educators.
Making Supplementary, Substantial, and Extensive Curriculum Adjustments
To comply with the Disability Standards for Education (DSE), educators must implement reasonable adjustments so that all students have the opportunity to become active and engaged learners. For some, these adjustments apply to the way in which they access and participate in curriculum. This presentation focuses on unpacking processes that ensure all students can continue to engage with their age-equivalent curriculum within the general education classroom, including those who require supplementary, substantial or extensive curriculum adjustments.
Wednesday 13 May, 2020 – 3:30-5:00pm ACST (Adelaide Time)
Scan and Assess: Data Analysis and Designing Surveys for School Staff and Students
A core component of successful inclusive school improvement involves considered reflection and monitoring of impact. Essentially – how are we going, and how do we know? This inquiry approach is paramount in identifying challenges of practice, prioritizing and action planning, and reviewing implementation. This presentation focuses on unpacking processes that assist in gathering and analysing relevant scan and asses data, including the use of surveys as a valuable and insightful qualitative measure.
Wednesday 27 May, 2020 – 3:30-5:00pm ACST (Adelaide Time)
These events are funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency as part of the Inclusive School Communities Project.
The Inclusive School Communities Project is about making SA schools accessible and inclusive for ALL students, including those living with disability. The project is being led by JFA Purple Orange under the guidance of a Steering Group of local and national stakeholders and with the leadership of young people living with disability. We now have 15 schools from government, catholic and independent sectors involved in the project and a group of 20+ school delegates (principals, deputies, directors, heads, coordinators, teachers, and teacher’s aides) – all keen to lead their schools towards inclusive education. Visit the Inclusive School Communities website to find out more https://inclusiveschoolcommunities.org.au/
Please join us for these free professional learning opportunities!
For the past 2 years Loren has been hosting a regular Inclusive Education Cafe across the North Queensland Region – this has equated to the delivery of over 20 sessions, and has encompassed schools and educators in areas such as Ingham, Townsville, Ayr/Home Hill, Bowen, Whitsunday’s and Mount Isa.
The Cafe’s have provided a unique way to connect and engage participants in informal professional learning around Inclusive Education. The Cafe’s have offered exploration and delivery of practical solutions and responses to common questions and challenges of practice experienced in schools. This contextual and collaborative approach has been a successful way for participants to build their capability.
The Cafe’s have attracted a lot of interest from across Queensland State Schools, other systems, and other parts of the country. However, Loren’s return to her substantive position within a school has limited her availability to deliver the Cafe sessions beyond her immediate location. This in combination with the current COVID-19 restriction on social gatherings, has presented an opportunity to rethink Cafe delivery.
The Inclusive Education Cafe’s will now exist as an online experience through the use of Zoom. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in professional learning that centers on the same principles as the previous in-house sessions. This shift will allow for broader and larger cross-sector/system collaboration.
The following structure will be used to faciliate the Cafe experience online:
Welcome– Framing the focus question and challenge of practice
Connect– Stimulated reflection with participantsin small groups
Learn– Exploration of practical strategies and solutions
Share– Collaborative discussions to share learning and contextual examples
Summary – Stimulated whole-group reflectionand question time
Recordings of the Cafe’s will be made available on the School Inclusion – From Theory to Practice website.
The Cafe’s will run at regular intervals across the year and invites will be shared on the SINE Facebook page. The first online Cafe will take place on April 16, 2020.
More information about the Inclusive Education Cafe’s can be found here.
Things have been a little quiet on the website and blog, so wanted to give you an update on what has been going on behind the scenes…
The SINE Network has been engaging in a Book Club with Inclusive Education for the 21st Century. This has involved the reading of 2 chapters per week, with follow up discussion posts. We are up to the final 4 chapters, and look forward to announcing the new book for Term 2.
I presented at the recent Illume Learning – Australian Inclusive Schooling Conference held in Brisbane. Although not able to attend in person, I presented on Making Supplementary, Substantial and Extensive Adjustments via Zoom video conference. The room was full, with some people sitting on the floor in order to attend my presentation. It was also an honor to have Dr Paula Kluth in the audience!
There is some new content that has been added to the website: Q&A video on my pedagogical framework preference, and the addition of a contextualised Matrix of Adjustments (examples of practices across the NCCD levels of adjustment).
I have been continuing my collaboration with the Inclusive School Communities project managed by JFA Purple Orange in South Australia. The project engages 12 schools in a community of practice that is focused on advancing inclusive education in each of the school sites. I continue to provide professional learning and coaching (including recent Zoom sessions as a result of COVID-19). We are now in the process of designing a series of professional learning webinars.
As many are aware, I commenced by Doctorate of Education (EdD) at QUT at the start of the year. I continue to engage with my studies part time, whilst maintaining full time employment at school (crazy I know!). I am enjoying the exploration phase of my studies, and I am in the process of refining my research design – topic, questions, methodology and theoretical perspectives. The focus of my research is: Conceptualising curricular inclusion for students with complex learning profiles in secondary school classrooms.
I look forward to producing new content within the SINE Network and on the website across Term 2! I will keep you updated on the blog and via social media posts.
Well wishes in these unprecedented times…
What a year 2020 is turning out to be!…from natural disasters to COVID-19, our resilience sure is being tested.
Such events have resulted in us being faced with uncertain times and situations that continue to impact on our lifestyles, our livelihood, and our safety and security. The effects are ongoing, and for many will be long lasting. I hope that you and your loved ones are faring well, and are leaning on supports that are available to you.
I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge people with disability through these challenging times – including our students. I am aware that such events result in increased hardship and denial of access to important services – things that could be avoided if governments and societies in general genuinely addressed abelism and discrimination. I empathise with you, and will continue to advocate for your human rights.
The School Inclusion Network for Educators (SINE) is an official network of All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education (All Means All). It is a national network of education professionals seeking to ensure that they deliver education in ways that support inclusion and human rights.
In line with the values and purpose of All Means All, SINE seeks to connect educators who believe that all students regardless of their background or ability have the right to a quality inclusive education in the general education environment, alongside their same age peers, all day and every day, accessing the core curriculum and participating fully as valued members of their school community.
The network operates as a closed group on Facebookand has just reached 1000 members!
The group is full of amazing Australian educators who are committed to the realisation of inclusive education for all. They utilise SINE to learn, collaborate, share, problem solve and celebrate.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (Disability Royal Commission) held its first hearing in Townsville from 4-7 November, 2019. The topic of the hearing was education, with a particular focus on the theme of inclusive education policy and practice in Queensland State Schools.
Loren Swancutt, substantive Head of Inclusive Schooling at Thuringowa State High School (and National Convenor of the School Inclusion Network for Educators and developer of the School Inclusion – From Theory to Practice website), along with her Principal and colleagues in two other State High Schools were served notice to provide information and to attend as witnesses at the hearing. They took the stand on Day 3 of the hearing.
The three State High Schools were selected for their history and experience in inclusive school reform, and provided testimony on what inclusive education looks like and how it can be achieved. The witnesses provided valuable evidence about leadership, culture, use of resourcing, staff capability and practice, challenges of practice in the high school setting, and the impact inclusive education continues to have on the outcomes of students. The schools demonstrated that inclusive education within the current limitations of the education system is not only possible, but is happening.
The witnesses were provided opportunity to share their thoughts on what more is needed to further strengthen the fidelity of inclusive education in Queensland State Schools. Loren provided these reflections:
Resourcing schools with additional teaching allocations to provide teachers with the time and opportunity to engage in collaborative planning, instructional coaching and responsive professional learning.
Access to a data monitoring tool that can be used to disaggregate student data across priority areas, and that can be aggregated across cohorts, categories of disability and levels of adjustment.
Needs-based funding to schools that reflects the data gathered in the NCCD process.
Considering the demands on high schools to collect, collate and make decisions about levels of adjustments across multiple teachers.
Considering the demands on high school teachers to identify, plan, implement and document adjustments for a much larger number of students taught across a week in comparison to primary school colleagues.
Rigorous moderation around the choice and appropriateness of adjustments recorded in the NCCD, and removal of ambiguity in the interpretation of adjustment tiers to ensure greater consistency across schools.
Strict accountability around the use of resourcing in schools – is resourcing being used appropriately and effectively? How do we know?
Overhaul of the roles and capacity of Heads of Special Education Services and Special Education Teachers – current role descriptions are not valued and reflective of the work needed to advance inclusive education.
Investing in the professional knowledge and skill of existing Special Education staff to think and work in ways that reflect inclusive education – acknowledging that special education practices do not automatically equate to inclusive education practices.
Objectively considering all practices in schools and within the system to identify bias and discrimination that can by hiding in plain sight. Some practices are continuing to perpetuate the segregation and exclusion of students with disability in all of their micro, macro and rebranding forms.
Loren then went on to provide closing testimony about what she would like to see come of the Disability Royal Commission in relation to the education of students with disability:
Dr Mellifont QC provided a strong closing address at the final day of the hearing. She called out the devaluation and intolerable ignorance that can be present in society and our school systems, and called for greater emphasis on valuing and upholding the rights of persons with disability. She went on to state;
“(The hearing) has highlighted the critical importance of the opening of the eyes of the Australian people to the profound and demonstrated benefits of equitable education for all students, and a genuinely inclusive culture, not just on paper but in the hearts 15 and minds of our governments, our educators, and our community.”
To conclude, Dr Mellifont referenced words from Loren’s statement;
“We can’t possibly be happy with what we are currently doing because history has reminded us time and again that the segregation and othering of diverse groups of our own human kind results in the most horrific outcomes which linger for many decades and transcend generations. We have known better for an awfully long time. We must act with urgency and do better.“
Recordings from the hearing with Auslan interpretations and closed captioning, and accompanying transcripts can be accessed via the Disability Royal Commission website.