Every child has the entitlement, and right, to an inclusive education, without consideration of differences in ability, social awareness, or skill level. The Department of Education are investing heavily in making schools and classrooms more welcoming and inclusive. This is overdue but certainly and very positive step in the right direction and must be applauded.
The classroom environments that can be considered most inclusive, proactively make accommodations to ensure that the needs of those, with differences, needing more SEN teacher assistance, needing specialist equipment, as well as providing calming/withdrawal spaces, are becoming more available.
Inclusive classrooms should not segregate and isolate individuals. They should provide a classroom environment that encourages, social acceptance, compassion, a positive space to learn lessons, as well as life skills. This applies to the children with additional needs and, oftentimes more importantly, those without, so they can improve their understanding, empathy and value of all classmates.
The following are the type of accommodations Schools should consider:
- A Sensory Pod, Sensory Room, or similar style, calming space
- Flexible seating for posture
- Assistance with socialisation
- Ear defenders and emotional regulation tools
- Visual aids, timers
- A varied curriculum & SEN teacher 1 on 1 time
- Allow water drinks and brain breaks to assist attention
If the above ideas are considered from the outset, it can make a world of difference in attendance, performance and overall enjoyment of the educational experience.