Proactively promoting inclusion
ACECQA’s National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone provides insight into National Quality Framework topics of interest.
Inclusion involves taking into account all children’s social, cultural and linguistic diversity (including learning styles, abilities, disabilities, gender, family circumstances and geographic location) in curriculum decision-making processes. The intent is to ensure that all children’s experiences are recognised and valued. The intent is also to ensure that all children have equitable access to resources and participation, and opportunities to demonstrate their learning and to value difference. (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 24 and My Time Our Place Framework for School Age Care, p. 22).
Equity, inclusion and diversity are reflected in the guiding principles that underpin the National Quality Framework (NQF), and feature throughout the National Quality Standard (NQS). The NQF promotes a strengths-based approach, seeing children as capable, competent contributors to their world. This is an important shift from the deficit view of children as needy or empty vessels for adults to fill. The focus is on identifying and building on children’s strengths, abilities, knowledge, culture and skills.
When reflecting on practice and planning for children with a disability or additional needs, consider the following questions on how program, practice and operations are inclusion ready and educators are proactively supporting inclusion.
- How do you ensure children with a range of individual characteristics and their families feel welcomed and comfortable at your service?
- How do you respond to the individual strengths, interests and needs of the children in your service?
- How do you assess the program to ensure barriers are reduced for children and families and that you facilitate their full participation in the program?
- How do you develop and maintain collaborative partnerships with other organisations to support all children?
- What information is gathered about individual children and how is this evaluated to support inclusion? How is this information shared among parents, staff who are responsible for the child and with other agencies who are supporting the child and their family?
Inclusion specialists from Noah’s Ark’s Early Childhood Intervention Support Programs offered suggestions about what you might see in a service that would indicate inclusion is promoted and supported. Suggestions included:
- Educators are committed and reflective about practice, consider a range of perspectives, hold high expectations for all children and are genuinely interested in all children.
- Educators use positive language and a range of communication techniques as part of the program.
- Children with additional needs are supported to participate in all aspects of the program.
- There are creative, adaptable, flexible, innovative approaches to the use of resources and spaces.
- Interactions are child led, provide opportunities for success and promote all children’s agency.
- Cultural competence is embedded.
- Educators understand the important role of relationships with families and other professionals and have regular access to professional development, support and resources.
- Commitment to continuous improvement, innovative practice and the confidence to be inclusive and push boundaries.
Further reading and resources
Commonwealth of Australia – NQS PLP e-Newsletter: Curriculum decision-making for inclusive practice
Inclusion Development Fund Manager – Strategic Inclusion Plan
Frederick A Miller and Judith H Katz – The Inclusion Breakthrough
Noah's Ark – Early childhood intervention support programs
NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency – Understanding inclusion