NCSE (2011) described inclusion as a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of learners. It involves removing barriers so that each learner will be enabled to achieve the maximum benefit from his/her schooling.
The Department acknowledges the very significant progress made by schools in developing inclusive practices and provision whereby the vast majority of pupils with special educational needs now attend mainstream schools. It also recognises that a small minority of pupils with significant and enduring needs may require a more specialist setting (for example, special class or special school placement).
A whole-school approach to special educational needs provision should reflect the Department’s commitment to the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs in mainstream schools. Schools with strong inclusive cultures are characterised by:
- A positive ethos and learning environment whereby all pupils, including those with special educational needs, feel welcome and experience a sense of community and belonging
- An emphasis on promoting pupils’ participation and active engagement in their learning and in the life of the school
- A commitment to developing pupils’ academic, social, emotional and independent living skills
- A focus on high aspirations and on improving outcomes for all pupils
The following resources are available to schools to help them to identify and enhance inclusive education practice: