Planning Inclusive Curriculum

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B King

Planning inclusive curriculum involves the application of key concepts and processes aimed at maximising the inclusive capacity of standards-based curriculum design.

An overview of the key concepts and processes are explored below:

Identifying Curriculum Goals

All instruction should start from the content and standards of the regular, age-equivalent curriculum. Teachers need to develop a clear understanding of the intent and demands of the curriculum content being covered during a course of instruction. That is, an ability to articulate exactly what students need to know and be able to do to meet the satisfactory standard. This results in clarity around the construct relevant goals of the curriculum, and supports the identification of any construct irrelevant demands which can be reduced or removed. The goals are derived from analysis and synthesis of the achievement standards/stage statements and content descriptions/outcomes.

Identifying Flexible Means of Instruction

Once the construct relevant goals of the curriculum have been established, teachers can consider the flexible ways in which they can deliver teaching and learning experiences. Teachers can take the goals and map out purposeful learning opportunities that engage students in input and output experiences which are highly relevant and responsive to the curriculum and to student diversity. Flexible means can be implemented through the use of universal design for learning principles and quality differentiated teaching practice. Flexible means are focused on providing equitable access and participation, and providing students with multiple ways to engage with and demonstrate learning. Student learning should be monitored, and instructional responses differentiated to ensure all students are able to access, participate, and make progress in the learning area/subject content of their grade level.

Designing Inclusive Assessment

Standards-based curriculum provides detail about what knowledge, understanding and skills are to be taught, and articulates the associated standard of satisfactory achievement. The curriculum does not provide the context or specificity around how learning is to be demonstrated, meaning assessment can occur via a range of flexible means and options. Assessment tasks should be analysed to ensure they are construct relevant – covering the knowledge, understanding and skills demanded by the learning area/subject curriculum, and that construct irrelevant demands are reduced or removed. This process acknowledges that additional knowledge, understanding and skills outside of the learning area/subject content are present in assessment tasks, and that there is a need to adjust or remove these demands in order to ensure there is equitable opportunity for all students to demonstrate learning.

Universal Design for Learning & Differentiated Teaching Practice

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and differentiated teaching practice are two universal approaches to providing equitable access, participation and progress in age-equivalent curriculum. They support teachers to plan for and implement curriculum goals through inclusive teaching and learning experiences.

UDL is a strengths-based approach to teaching and learning that enables high expectations matched with genuine opportunities to learn. The goal of UDL is to remove predictable barriers and address student variablity in proactive and responsive ways, and is therefore about designing and delivering educational practices that understand and value student diversity. UDL was developed at the Centre for Applied Special Technology (CAST) and is underpinned by a set of three principles:

  1. Multiple means of engagement – targets different motivators by providing options for recruting interest, sustaining effort, and maximising self-regulation
  2. Multiple means of representation – acknowledges that knowledge can be accessed and understood in different ways
  3. Multiple means of representation – focuses on interacting with the environment and expressing learning in various ways

Differentiated teaching practice involves planning varied approaches to what and how students learn. A popular conceptualisation of this approach has been developed by Carol Ann Tomilinson and considers four main elements for adaptation – content, process, product, environment. Student learning profiles are used to determine what students will learn, how they will learn it, how they will show they have learnt it, and the conditions in which they will learn it. In this process, students are assigned specific tasks and types and amounts of scaffolding and access to varying levels of instruction.

UDL and differentiated teaching practice are complementary approaches to inclusive teaching and learning. UDL provides flexible ways for students to access and participate in learning from the outset, and differentiated teaching practice responds to student progress in learning by intensifying instruction, strategies and supports based on formative data.

Would you like to learn more?

Loren provides professional learning focused on building teacher capability to design inclusive curriculum. This involves systematic processes regarding the identification of the construct relevant goals of the curriculum, planning for flexible means of instruction and assessment, and aligning supplementary, substantial and extensive curriculum adjustments. Loren can also provide demonstration of how to effectively and efficiently incorporate all of these aspects into inclusive lessons where all students access and participate in learning together.

If you would like to engage in professional learning regarding the design and implementation of inclusive curriculum, check out the Services page here, or send Loren an email at:

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