Improving Learning, Skills and Inclusion: The Impact of Policy on Post-Compulsory Education

Improving learning, skills and inclusion: the impact of policy on post-compulsory education
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In the past 40 years the field of special needs education has moved from a segregation paradigm through integration to a point where inclusion is central to contemporary discourse. Even so the concept of inclusion is not unproblematic, both conceptually and practically Hegarty, This chapter presents material on six themes relating to inclusive education: the concept, its origins, international perspectives, approaches to its implementation, related research evidence, and critiques. From the outset, it must be said that inclusive education is a complex, if not a problematic concept.

Despite the internationalisation of the philosophy of inclusive education UNESCO, , , for a range of historical, cultural, social and financial reasons its implementation has been uneven across the world. Hence, some of the principles of inclusive education are traversed elsewhere in this review, in particular in the introduction Chapter One and the chapters on the educational context Chapter Six , curriculum Chapter Eight , assessment Chapter Nine , pedagogy Chapter Ten , teacher education Chapter Thirteen , and universal design for learning Chapter Sixteen.

To Antia et al. In their review of 28 European countries, Meijer et al. In this chapter, the main focus is upon the first of these — the one-track approach. In recent years, the concept of inclusive education has been broadened to encompass not only students with disabilities, but also all students who may be disadvantaged. Earlier, Skrtic et al.

Advocacy for inclusive education revolves around three main arguments. Firstly, several writers claim that inclusive education is a basic human right. For example, Christensen argued that exclusion or segregation of students with special needs is a violation of their human rights and represents an unfair distribution of educational resources.

Writing from a British perspective, and as a person with a disability, Oliver argued that the education system has failed disabled students by not equipping them to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens, while the special education system has functioned to exclude them from both the education process and wider social life. He thus saw inclusion as a political as well as an educational process.

He argued that the discourse of inclusion provides an alternative vision of the relationship between education and society that runs counter to the processes of segregation and differentiation that have dominated the development of mass schooling.

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The latter point was also expressed by Slee , who claimed that the more schools have been called upon to include the masses, the more they have developed the technologies of stratification and exclusion. Slee saw a danger, too, in inclusive education deteriorating into assimilation or absorption. Among the 16 propositions to emerge from this overview, seven are particularly pertinent to the present review:.

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The resulting agreement, known as the Salamanca Statement , demonstrated an international commitment to inclusive education. It included these agreements:. More recently, in December , the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly confirmed a Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons , which included a significant commitment to inclusive education. Article 24 is the most relevant to inclusive education.

It stated, inter alia , the following:. A total of countries signed the Convention and, as of June , 87 had ratified it including New Zealand. It should be noted, however, that neither the Salamanca Statement nor the Conventio n explicitly states that all SWSEN should be educated in fully inclusive settings at all levels of the education system. Nor do they explicitly exclude such an interpretation. In other words, there is a degree of ambiguity regarding the intentions of both documents with regard to the meaning of inclusion.

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With the impetus provided by the UN and UNESCO, and other influences such as those outlined in Chapter One, it is not surprising that virtually all countries have policies on inclusive education, or are in the process of developing them. To attempt to summarise them would be a major task. Several Australian states have made a commitment to inclusive education.

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The United States has a voluminous literature and a range of policies relating to inclusive education, although the term is not employed in official documents. A recent reflection by Sailor will suffice to sum up the present status of inclusive education:.

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Without question, one of the thorniest policy questions to confront American education in the second half of the twentieth century and continuing today is the issue of placement for students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act IDEA. Federal policy consistently has used the least restrictive environment LRE language in statutory and regulatory policy to enhance the integration of students with disabilities and greater access to the curriculum of general education.

In addition, families assisted by advocacy organizations have litigated successfully to achieve these ends for their children with disabilities. Some of these cases have produced favourable interpretations at the level of the Supreme Court.

Finally, university researchers associated with special education departments around the country built a strong case for more positive educational and social outcomes for children when they are educated alongside their nondisabled peers. Despite this three-pronged effort, educational segregation of students with disabilities continues on a large scale today p. As Skrtic et al. In implementing inclusive education, attention should be paid to three levels: the broad society and education system, the school and the classroom.

Societal and education system level. At this level, factors such as the following have been identified as playing important roles: a the policy context of the wider community Dyson, et al.

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To bring about inclusion, according to Oliver , changes must take place at all levels of society. School level. At this level, the key question is what evidence is there that mainstream schools can act in ways that enable them to respond to student diversity to facilitate participation by all students in the cultures, curricula and communities of those schools? After extensively reviewing the literature on this topic, Dyson et al.

In determining the extent to which schools facilitate or inhibit inclusion, two school-level themes ran through these studies: the importance of school culture e. Classroom level. Of course, the success or otherwise of inclusive education critically depends on what takes place minute-by-minute in regular classrooms. Inclusive education does not mean the coexistence of one programme for a student with special educational needs and another for the other students. Rather, it implies changing the programme and teaching approaches for all students in a class.

In this sense, inclusive education is something of an educational Trojan Horse, since it involves not only accommodating regular classroom programmes and teaching strategies to the needs of SWSEN, but also making adjustments to meet the diverse needs of other students in the class. Inclusive education also requires close collaboration between regular class teachers and a range of other people, including specialist teachers, teaching assistants, therapists, and parents. In his review of efficacy studies of inclusion, Lindsay concluded that they do not provide a ringing endorsement of the concept.

They noted, for example, that analyses of regular classrooms in the US show that they are places where undifferentiated, large group instruction dominate and teachers make few adaptations, with the result that there is little individualised programming. They also noted that while some positive outcomes have been found, there is also evidence of negative consequences for students with disabilities, including poor self-concepts and inadequate social skills and low levels of peer acceptance. Research into inclusive education can be divided into studies concerned with ascertaining the perceptions various stakeholders hold towards inclusion and those investigating academic and social outcomes.


In order for inclusion to work in practice, teachers and principals in regular schools must accept its philosophies and demands. Some studies reported positive outcomes for general teachers, including increased skills in meeting the needs of all their students and developing an increased confidence in their teaching ability. Negative outcomes included the fear that the education of non-disabled children might suffer and the lack of funds to support instructional needs. For special educators, the benefits included an increased feeling of being an integral part of the school community and the opportunity to work with students without disabilities.

A smaller majority were prepared to include students with disabilities in their own classes, their attitudes depending on the type and severity of the disability. Only one-third or less believed they had sufficient time, skills or resources necessary for inclusion, especially for students with severe disabilities. Parents play a critical role in bestowing social validity on inclusion and in facilitating its implementation. Entry rates into higher education for the relevant cohort www.

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Social gradient of level 3 completion. This is an interval variable. Vocational prevalence. Specificity of vocational programmes. This measures the proportion of upper secondary vocational education in a Dual System of apprenticeship. Standardisation of outputs. This refers to how educational achievement the output is tested against external standards using centralised exit examinations. Bol and van de Werfhorst , p. Standardisation of output is a dummy variable: when there are central exams in the secondary education system a country scores 1.

Percentage enrolled in private secondary schools. Mandatory maths and language learning. This indicator measures whether the learning of maths and the national language is compulsory in upper secondary programmes. The data are obtained from a survey conducted by the Nuffield Foundation Hodgen et al.

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EdStats tools, resources and queries help users visualize and analyze education data. London: National Statistics, Explore the site for standards-aligned, classroom-ready activities. Many questions about UDL and its implementation in classrooms and educational systems in the USA and around the world remain to be addressed. Introduction This article locates recent developments in inclusive education in a broader discussion about the role of teachers in educating all children more effectively than may have been done in the past.

We give a value of 2 to a country where both subjects are compulsory in all programmes; 1 where one or the other is compulsory in all programmes and 0 where neither are compulsory in all programmes. This is a categorical variable. Proportion studying maths in upper secondary education and training. This indicator uses the data from the Nuffield Foundation survey Hodgen et al. The first observation is that most countries 14 out of 20 do not change position by more than one place up or down in either literacy or numeracy rankings.

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Improving Learning, Skills and Inclusion: The impact of policy on post‐ compulsory education, by Frank Coffield, Sheila Edward, Ian Finlay, Ann. Buy Improving Learning, Skills and Inclusion: The Impact of Policy on Post- compulsory Education (Improving Learning) 1 by Frank Coffield, Sheila Edward, Ian.

In only four instances across literacy and numeracy do countries change positions by three or more places. Amongst the 12 instances out of 40 with a country change by two or more positions in the ranking for either literacy or numeracy, there is considerable consistency in the direction of change and, to a lesser extent, the degree of change across the two domains.