In simple terms, Inclusion means a practice of ensuring that that no one is left behind. Inclusion is everybody's responsibility, not a “favour”. “Inclusion makes our classroom the world, and the world our classroom”.
When talking about inclusion, the conversation often gravitates towards themes dealing with special needs education.
But the term has a much broader meaning, as can be seen in international policy recommendations, both from the United Nations and from the European Union, as well as in many countries.
Inclusion in and through education means addressing all forms of exclusion and marginalisation so as to leave no children behind.
Concretely, this means that we cater for the diverse needs, abilities and capacities of all learners, especially those facing challenges or with fewer opportunities (see list of examples in Annex), such as those with special needs or who have a disability, those originating from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, migrant backgrounds or geographically depressed areas or war zones.
With the growing diversity of European societies, greater emphasis is needed on promoting inclusion and common values, as well as a positive response to diversity.
In this endeavour, education has a prime role to play. But education cannot be seen in isolation from social, cultural, political, historical, environmental and economic aspects. Its primary role should be complemented and supported by other policy spheres.
For these reasons, it is also important to reflect on what inclusion in general is, and on how education can promote inclusion as a fundamental value, in relation notably to democratic values, active citizenship, solidarity, diversity, equality, non-discrimination.
Inclusion as part of broader strategic approaches
Approaches to foster inclusion in school education should go beyond individual support measures and become a more integral concept in the way the school operates; they could be linked to strategies against early school leaving, or to the whole school approach. They should be based on positive vision of diversity and high expectations for each learner, and might include some of the following:
- Strategies to promote well-being and prevent bullying in school.
- Family involvement and family learning approaches.
- Cultural mediators to reach out and involve community members in school life.
- Peer coaching and peer mentoring schemes among pupils.
- Flexible curricula allowing individualised learning for pupils at risk of disengagement.
- 'School after school programme' to provide extra support to pupils who need it.
- Extra-curricular activities promoting various pupils' talents.
- Special language learning courses in place for foreign-born learners and support/preparatory programmes for newly arrived migrants/refugees.
- Material support such as free meals, transport and learning tools.
- Grants or additional funding to support disadvantaged learners.
- Early intervention and support at pre-school stage for children with additional needs.
How to have the inclusion dimension on board in your application
There are several ways to do so. The following are the main ones but you are welcome to describe your own way:
- Inclusion can be the theme of your project.
It may be the case that your application is for an eTwinning project relating to inclusion, all the more since this is our annual priority for 2017. If so, please describe the project, its objectives, activities and the expected results and impact on your students, and any other information you deem is relevant.
- You are implementing an inclusive approach with your class on a day-to-day basis.
In this case, you could explain what inclusion challenges you are facing with your class and why (for example: your school is in a disadvantaged area), and which measures you have put in place to ensure that no one is left behind, and what are the results. You could also explain whether this is part of the general school approach (see above mentioned examples) and how you were supported (or not).
- You (and your students) have ensured that the class trip will be inclusive.
There could be various reasons why some of your students might consider not joining the class trip, especially for those with a disadvantaged socio-economic background. Here you could describe what solutions were found to prevent this, for example fundraising activities, looking for hosting families in partner school, mobilising any school/other funds…
- You will explore the inclusion dimension during your class trip.
It is also possible that you will plan some visit/activities/meetings at destination to raise awareness of your students on inclusion issues. This could be for example meeting with staff or officials dealing with inclusion issues, or with a local celebrity coming from a disadvantaged background; attending a debate or a show featuring inclusion issues. In this case, please describe your idea and the expected results with your students.