Program Planning & Delivery: An Inclusive Model
The Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education is committed to the philosophy that every student, regardless of individual differences, has the right to an appropriate public education which aims to develop to the fullest extent possible, his/her abilities, talents and skills.
To this end, it is expected that regional schools shall attend to the cognitive, emotional, social and physical development of each student, believing that every student is a contributing member of the school community.
The Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education recognizes that students differ in their learning needs, and endorses the belief that all students have the right to have those needs met in the most inclusive environment appropriate to the needs of the student and which enhances self-worth.
Inclusion occurs in a variety of settings for the purpose of preparing students for full participation in a diverse and integrated society. While there may be exceptions where a fully inclusive setting may not be appropriate, the Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education believes that to the extent possible, all children should be provided with the same opportunities and choices.
Successful implementation of an inclusive philosophy is dependent upon a number of factors, including:
- an understanding of and commitment to an inclusive philosophy throughout the education system;
- leadership at the regional, family of schools, and school level establishing a collaborative culture;
- public awareness of the inclusive philosophy supported by explanation and demonstration;
- ongoing and meaningful involvement of parents / guardians in educational programming for their children; and,
- the provision and creative use of resources and supports for teachers and students.
In an inclusive environment which facilitates the membership, participation and learning of all students in school programs and activities, the emphasis is on quality programming.
The student's program is the central focus around which other decisions revolve, such as determining the environments in which students will learn. Preparing all students for a lifetime of learning requires appropriate programming in a variety of educational settings. (Special Education Policy, 2008, p.,26)
The regular classroom is the hub of planning, implementing and evaluating programming designed to address the learning outcomes of all students, including individualized outcomes established for students with special needs. For these students and their teachers, program planning teams are essential to the process.
Quality in education is demonstrated by the excellence of individual courses, programs, and shared experiences. Quality is also demonstrated by the diversity of educational experiences in which students are actively involved and by the extent to which individual student needs are met. (Public School Program)
In an inclusive environment, teachers of student-centered classrooms use a variety of instructional strategies and materials in addressing the learning styles and needs of their students. Student interaction is facilitated through meaningful cooperative learning experiences. Opportunities are provided for all students to have success through a variety of experiences. The availability of resources is maximized through collaboration with school staff and people in the community. There is an acknowledgment that there are numerous opportunities for valuable and essential learning experiences beyond the walls of the classroom. Such classrooms create an environment in which all students are meaningfully included.
In all phases of the programming process, application of the principle "only as special as necessary" will assist the team in making appropriate decisions for each student with special needs. This approach is helpful in achieving the delicate balance essential for success among a number of considerations such as instructional strategies, adaptations, special materials, appropriate support, individualized outcomes and evaluation. It is also useful in determining on an ongoing basis if instructional settings, in addition to the regular classroom, are required in order to address the outcomes established for meeting the needs of an individual student.
Inclusive education is supported by a number of "current practices" which benefit all students. Those noted in the Special Education Policy include:
- focus on outcomes and the establishment of expectations that all students work toward in a variety of ways;
- an emphasis on activity-based, small group work and student interaction;
- flexible teaching and management strategies allowing for short-term interventions, sometimes in settings other than the classroom;
- creative use of human resources;
- ongoing involvement of parents / guardians in decisions regarding their children's educational programming;
- administrative leadership and support in developing appropriate programming for all students;
- an emphasis on ongoing training and professional development;
- a continuum of programming options and services to meet the special needs of students; and,
- strong linkage between schools and community agencies and a cooperative approach to delivery of support services.
Inclusive education is rooted in the belief that all students are valued members of the school community. Accompanying this belief is an understanding that all students have several needs in common - to be challenged, to participate, to contribute, to be supported, and to be respected for who they are. Inclusive programming for students with special needs acknowledges these commonalities while addressing clearly identified individual needs. This process is complex, ongoing, and challenging. Collaborative program planning, implementation and evaluation are the keys to ensuring that the process will be successful for each student in an inclusive educational environment.
The effectiveness of programming and services provided for students with special needs depends upon the extent to which the support assists students in achieving the learning outcomes of the Public School Program curriculum, or in the case of students with an Individual Program Plan (IPP), their individualized outcomes. The collaboration and planning which is critical to ensuring this essential relationship between support and outcomes is facilitated through the participation of school staff, Student Services staff, parents and guardians, the student and others (as appropriate) in the program planning process as outlined in Nova Scotia’s Special Education Policy.