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Disability Royal Commission – Schools Provide Testimonies of Hope

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:

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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.

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:

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  • 🎥 Recordings from the first Disability Royal Commission hearing into education are now available via the website
  • A new Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education for launched.

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

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:

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

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:

  • Network discussion about using Expressive Writing, Corrective Reading and Spelling Mastery in secondary settings. Dr Robert Jackson provided some insight via a recent research project he has co-authored on the impact of these programs.
  • Sharing of new technology and productsSMART Cane and Brail Uno Cards
  • 💥NEW MOOC from QUTINCLUSIVE EDUCATION: Essential knowledge for success
  • Changes to the way South Australian public schools access funding for students with disability
  • Reflective questions for inclusive educators:
  • 📚 BOOK UPDATE: The cover design is out!…and a pre-order link is now available for ‘Inclusive Education for the 21st Century: Theory, Policy and Practice’ edited by Professor Linda Graham

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

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:

  • Shared quote emphasising that inclusive education is not a destination, but instead something that requires ongoing commitment, monitoring and improvement. Inclusive education doesn’t stop with students being in regular classrooms – they need to be equitably participating, engaging and achieving everyday. How are they going? How do you know? What are we going to do about it?

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

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