The Importance Of Inclusive Education In New Zealand

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Inclusive education has come about in New Zealand as a response to global concerns that all children and young people with disabilities have the right to access and complete an education that is responsive to their needs and relevant to shaping their lives in a positive and meaningful way (United Nations, 1989). In New Zealand, this model of inclusion has been built into the school curriculum and implemented across the country (Ministry of Education, 2007; Education Act, 1989). However, before discussion on the fostering of an inclusive educational culture, it is imperative to examine the historical discourses that have shaped public opinion and reason regarding people with disabilities within the wider community. A society that celebrates …show more content…
So what needs to happen in order for schools in New Zealand to properly implement inclusive education? “Inclusion has to become more than a synonym for special systems in mainstream schools, more than a peripheral dimension to mainstream education” (Thomas, 2013, pp. 477-478.) This requires a foundational restructuring of the education structure; one that doesn’t simply tack on special needs education as an ad-hoc approach to inclusiveness, but one that builds education around the notion that all students are accepted and take a full and active role in school life as valued members of ordinary classrooms in regular schools (Ballard, 2004). This can only happen if education changes its ideas from a performance based system teaching and testing to the Curriculum (2007) to one that teaches specifically to the educational, emotional and practical needs of the individual learner. Inclusive education is meaningful when it is thoroughly embedded in our understandings about community and communality; both reflective of, and creative of inclusive ideals within society (Thomas, 2013). Success for inclusive education is more than recognising inclusion about people with disabilities or special learning needs; it is about participation within learning (Booth, 1999). Education around inclusion needs to start within the university courses to train this and the next generation of teachers about the importance of inclusive education, not simply an optional course, but an entire philosophical mind-set espoused throughout the entire teaching course; one that has an immediate relevant application within a classroom. The discourses of disability need to be critically examined, and the voices of those affected by them need to be heard. It is after all these voices that convey the

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