This is a summary of an article written by EEE Assessor Dr. Vesna Varunek. All research references mentioned in this summary are detailed and listed in the actual article.
You can download the full article by clicking on this link: Why Inclusion?
Who is a SEN student? Authors Vade and Moore (1987:15) consider that all children have special needs and that all of them present specific differences. More recently, pedagogical literature (Zovko, 1999) Jurcic – Devcic (2017) established that children with special needs were actually all children who – in a positive or negative sense – deviated from the norm or median (Zovko, 1999 : 371). Children with above-average intellectual abilities, or talented children, are part of this group just as much as children with learning disabilities or difficulties. Numerous American authors take this stance even further, talking about the education of talented children in the framework of special needs education: while discussing children with hearing or speech impairment, children with autism, they also discuss talented children. Grgin (1997) argues that talented children represent a particular group within the category of special education.
Do you know the difference between integration and inclusion when it comes to SEN (special education needs) students? Integration of children with special needs in schools implies that a child spends some of its school hours with a special needs educator (separated from the rest of the classroom, where she/he works with the special educator following a special curriculum), and the rest of it with her/his home teacher and peers in the classroom. Inclusion, however, means that all people regardless of their abilities, have the right to be respected and appreciated as valuable members of their communities. Inclusion does not mean that we are all the same; on the contrary, each of us is unique, and thus different. At its core, inclusion brings added value in terms of respect for differences among people. This needs to be used to broaden the understandings, enrich experiences, and develop humanity.
One of the biggest challenges and initiatives in education that educational communities around the world are facing, is inclusive education (Sharma, Forlin, Loreman 2008).
Have a look at this academic article which takes you from past to present, from total exclusion to baby steps toward integration, and finally from integration to inclusion of SEN students in the mainstream education. The author of the article, Dr. Varunek, defines the broad spectrum of ‘special education needs’ and underlines the differences in terminology, as well as social perceptions. She also touches on the existing misconceptions between the two major issues, integration versus inclusion. She defines the best environment for SEN children to thrive and how important is the parents-teacher partnership for best results. At the practical level, the successful work of a teacher in an inclusive classroom depends greatly on the level of established quality peer support and parent-school partnership. The practice of inclusion has shown, that inclusion creates a community where everyone feels welcome, useful and not discriminated against: a community where we emphasize abilities, and not disabilities.
About the author
Dr. Vesna Varunek is a passionate educator and advocate for SEN inclusion. Her experience in education spans over 39 years. She has extensive experience in teaching elementary school, with a particular emphasis on inclusion of children with special needs. Dr. Varunek has also worked as a counselor and teacher trainer for Ministry of Education, taught at college level for several years, authored books and numerous articles published in peer-reviewed journals, and presented at international conferences. She is an Excellence in Expat Education assessor, who you might have the pleasure to meet and talk to, in the future, when she may visit your school for a FAME assessment.