Understanding Inclusive Education

Inclusive Education means that all students attend and are welcomed by their neighborhood schools in age-appropriate, regular classes.

Students are supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of the life of the school.

  1. More than just ‘being there’
  2. Who’s ready?
  3. History of advocacy for inclusion
  4. Key resources: Australian and International

Inclusion:  More than just ‘being there’

In the beginning, I thought my son needed withdrawal for one-on-one or lots of aide time but now I see how those things took him away from his peers.
While there is still sometimes extra adult support in the class, there are many other ways to foster my son’s participation, learning and belonging, so he is a full and valued class member”.
Mother of John, Aged 7


Inclusive Education: The right model of support

Community Resource Unit Ltd

The right model of support for a student with disability will result in them feeling like an equal, valued, and contributing part of their class.  The right supports will develop their growth as an independent learner, and promote their perception and social connection amongst their typically developing peers.

This video demonstrates how Nathan’s school community implemented the right model of support for him, and how his academic confidence and friendships grew when the support was right.  It is an excerpt from the CRU film "He's confident, he's happy, he's part of the class".

The Queensland Department of Education has an Inclusive Education Policy Opens in new window which defines what inclusive education is and isn’t and the process of transformation that is needed to make inclusive education possible for all students.


Not all models of education are inclusive

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Fact Sheets

What is Inclusive Education?

Community Resource Unit Ltd. (CRU)

What is Inclusive Education?

Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA)

4 circles with the labels exclusion, segregation, integration and inclusion. Each circle is filled with dots, most are blue, some are multi-coloured. For exclusion all of the blue dots are inside the circle and the coloured dots are outside. For segregation the blue dots remain together in a large circle and coloured dots are together in a small circle that is away from the blue dots. For integration the coloured dots are inside the big circle with blue dots but they are contained in a smaller circle so they cannot mix. With the inclusion circle, all coloured dots are mixed in together.


What is Inclusion? What’s not?

Kathie Snow

"It's estimated that 20 percent of adults and 10 percent of children have medical diagnoses that are categorised as disabilities.  Those numbers represent the 'natural proportion' of people with disabilities in our society.  An inclusive environment is one that replicates the natural proportion'.

Download the full article here (PDF)


‘Is it inclusion?’ cheat sheet

The Inclusive Class

An image of a table titled 'is it inclusion'. One column is yes, the other is no.Apologies for the lack of accessibility of this table.


Collaborative Instruction Among Peers

Dan Habib

How should teacher aides be used in the inclusive classroom? An example from the USA


Inclusive Practices In Schools - Who Is Responsible?

Australian Teacher Aide

"The debate therefore should not be about whether schools should employ Teacher's Aides (TAs) to support students with disability... rather it should be about how schools can work with TAs to implement better inclusive practices for supporting students with disability in the classroom.

Click here to read the full article Opens in new window

Who’s ready?

“Liam’s inclusion has never been about his development, academic abilities, speech, behaviour or “readiness”. The only criterion that any child should have to meet is being of school age.”
Mother of Liam (age seven)

Fact Sheet

What to look for – indicators of inclusion

Community Resource Unit Ltd.

"In your first contact with a prospective school, focus on assessing the school culture and the fit of the school with your vision - rather than the support that will be provided."

Download the fact sheet here (PDF)

Fact Sheet

Embracing Diversity

University of Canberra

"Schools which embrace diversity support every student, with their many different backgrounds, interests, needs and abilities. Here are some ways a school community can demonstrate that it embraces diversity, consistent with the Disability Standards for Education 2005."

Download the fact sheet here (PDF)


Are you ready to really include me?

Down Syndrome Association Queensland


‘Every student with disability succeeding: Oonamba State School’

Queensland Department of Education and Training

Students are in their classrooms all the time, rather than having separate programs.” An example of a Queensland State School that has intentionally worked towards being inclusive.

Click here to watch the video Opens in new window


Amelia Makes her move

Belonging Matters


Inclusive Education Benefits Everyone

Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) 


The Power of Inclusive Education

Ilene Schwarz


Inclusive education: a way to think differently about difference

Peter Walker


The secret teacher got it wrong: A response to ‘I am all for inclusion in principle, but it doesn’t always work’.

Cátia Malaquias, The Global Observatory for Inclusion

"Neither “special education” nor “integration” in general education is inclusive and both fail when assessed for the core critical measures of inclusion: the creation of a real sense of belonging and connectedness to curriculum and peers."

Click here to read the article Opens in new window


Inclusive education means all children are included in every way

Kathy Cologon, The Conversation

"There seems to be a lot of confusion and misinformation about what inclusion actually means. Inclusive education involves the full inclusion of all children. No children are segregated.

Supports for inclusion are embedded within everyday practices.  If aides are employed they circulate around the classroom, or spend time assisting the teacher and making adaptations to materials, rather than being off in a corner with one particular child."

Click here to read the articleOpens in new window

History of Advocacy for Inclusion


Major Milestones: key dates in the history of inclusion

The Global Observatory for Inclusion

Since the late 1800s, key events have led to advances in education. These events have prompted governments and education systems to move from exclusion to special education, from segregation to integration, and from integration to inclusion. Here is a summary of some of these events.”

Click here to learn more and watch the video Opens in new window


The Evolution of Inclusion: The past and future of education

Shelley Moore


The Fight for the Human Right to Inclusive Education: Conceptualisation of Inclusion, Implementation Challenges and the Journey from Theory to Practice

Cátia Malaquias

"Around the world and across cultures and societies, 1.3 billion people with disabilities remain among the most marginalised. This is true for people with disabilities in both developing and developed countries and explains the particular significance of the concept of “inclusion” in the global movement for the rights of people with disabilities."

Click here to read the article Opens in new window


Championing Inclusion: A reflection

Carol Ann Tomlinson

We live in a time when diversity is a hallmark of society – a time when one of our greatest challenges is shedding centuries-old suspicions of ‘the other’. Schools in which we determine that some students are smart and others are not, in which class assignments effectively create a caste system…reinforce divisions beyond the schoolhouse door that diminish us all.

Download the article here (PDF)  Apologies for the lack of accessibility of this article.


Disabling Segregation

Dan Habib

Key resources: Australian and International

Australian Resources


Thinking about inclusion: Following the natural paths of childhood.

Dr Bob Jackson

"We still have much to learn on the mechanics of inclusion for all students in all situations, but it is now clear from examples around the world in high school and over 20 years of successful inclusion at a university level that if the will is there, the way is there also."

Download the article here (PDF)


Inclusive Education Toolkit for Parents

All Means All

This Inclusion Toolkit for Parents has been written with leading inclusive education experts to guide parents in supporting their child’s inclusive education journey.

View the website here Opens in new window


Useful Australian websites:

International Resources



Five Moore Minutes

Shelley Moore

Five Moore Minutes is a website with practical videos dedicated to empowering schools and classrooms to support all Learners! Created by Shelley Moore, this website is designed with teachers in mind.

Click here to view the website Opens in new window


Broadreach Training

Broadreach Training and Resources is the website of Emma Van der Klift and Norman Kunc.  It contains extensive resources including videos, online courses, articles and presentations on disability, inclusion, inclusive education, collaborative behaviour support, friendship and rethinking disability.

Click here to visit the website Opens in new window


Ability & Opportunity in the Rearview Mirror

Emma Van der Klift and Norman Kunc

The significant obstacles confronting us are the lack of opportunities, not the limitations of ability.  And in that context, we also need to think about the kind of support we offer in order to ensure that people leave school with a sense of confidence, competence and optimism.."

Download the article here (PDF)


Inclusive Education: From Political Correctness Towards Social Justice

Norman Kunc


Inclusion Alberta: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education

In a program initiated by families in 1987, Inclusion Alberta facilitates inclusive education opportunities to students with developmental disabilities at 14 universities and colleges.

Students with developmental disabilities take part in the same learning activities as their peers such as assignments, practicums, exams, study groups, as well the extracurricular clubs, societies and social groups university life is famous for.


Useful International websites:

  • The Inclusive Class Opens in new window

    A blog by Nicole Eredics, an educator who advocates for the inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education classroom.  This site is designed to provide information and tips on how to include ALL learners in a classroom

  • Paula Kluth Opens in new window

    Paula’s website is dedicated to promoting inclusive schooling and exploring positive ways of supporting students with autism and other disabilities.  She is the author of the very popular “You’re Going to Love this Kid: Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom”, now in its 2nd edition.

  • Inclusive Schooling Opens in new window

    This website by Dr Julie Causton is for educators, administrators and parents who seek to create more inclusive schools.

This project is proudly supported by the Queensland Government through the Department of Education.

The Department of Education website outlines its commitment to Inclusive education through its inclusive education policy.


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