What is Inclusive Education?

Inclusive education is about facilitating transformative teaching and learning experiences and environments that address inequitable and dominant structures within higher education. Penney and others (2018) see inclusion as the need to challenge complacency about the teaching and learning provision and practices that are available rather than focusing on difference and integration. There remain important questions to ask around this pedagogic approach:

‘Fundamentally, we must ask what assumptions might inform our personal and collective philosophies in relation to inclusive education? What do we mean when we talk of including? What happens? Whose interests are being served? And most of all, into what do we seek to include?’ (Graham and Slee, 2008, p.95).

Ultimately, for inclusive education to be successful, an understanding and reflection on both curriculum content and learner diversity must be acknowledged (Graham, Medhurst, Tancredi, Spandagou and Walton, 2020). Graham et al. (2020) explain that educators must understand barriers to learning are not individual issues to be ‘overcome’ by the student. Furthermore, educator knowledge on what (curriculum) and how (pedagogy) it’s taught as well as how it’s measured (assessment) is essential to pre-empt and address barriers to learning (Graham et al., 2020).  Inclusive pedagogies in relation to higher education have been conceptualised by the platforming of difference as visible (celebration) or invisible (creating commonality), addressing diverse students’ needs, as a means of social justice and through knowledge use (see Stentiford and Koutsouris, 2021).

This Inclusive Education Resource Hub is designed to acknowledge the barriers and issues faced by the implementation of inclusive education. Furthermore, it seeks to frame inclusive education in a critical way with the resources and means to address its challenges. Understanding the terms and language used around the field of equality, diversity and inclusion is a useful starting point – see this glossary of terms for more information (link pending).

Suggestion for further reading: