ERO evaluated inclusive practices in 152 schools reviewed in Term 2, 2014. Most schools had enrolled one or more students with special education needs. Three quarters of the schools were mostly inclusive of students with special needs, compared with only half in ERO’s 2010 evaluation.
ERO’s evaluation focused on students who need teaching adaptations and/or individual support to access The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) or Te Marautanga and achieve at or above the level for their age and students who are likely to learn within level one of the NZC throughout their time at school.
Most schools had developed useful procedures and plans to guide practices and support the participation of students with special needs. For example, they carefully planned the transition of students into, through and out of the school.
Leaders of inclusive schools set high expectations for students, and ensured that staff understood their responsibility to meet the needs of all their students.
The ‘mostly inclusive’ schools were more likely to have a coordinated systematic approach. They identified priorities for building staff capability and allocated resources equitably.
Schools accessed professional learning and development (PLD) to support students with special education needs or to improve their practices. Effective PLD was focused and relevant to the needs of particular students.
Schools that reviewed the outcomes of their programmes were better placed to decide how to provide effectively for students with special education needs.
Regular meetings between school staff, specialist teachers and specialists helped meet the needs of students with special education needs. Special education needs coordinators or heads of learning support were responsible for identifying specific needs, coordinating support and monitoring student progress and programme effectiveness.
Schools allocated time for staff to meet regularly to identify needs, plan programmes together, monitor progress, share effective practices, discuss successes and challenges and identify specialist advice needs.
A Year 5 boy with cerebral palsy was confident, articulate, a leader and good with technology. His school helped him build on his strengths by nominating him a ‘techno kid’ responsible for supporting his class and teachers in technology and running the technology for school assemblies. He was supported to run his own Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings and report on his progress and achievements.
Schools carefully identified students’ needs and provided specific support. Effective practices included differentiating the curriculum, modifying activities and providing guidance for teacher’s aides.
Schools involved parents, teachers, specialist teachers and specialists in developing IEPs with specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals. They regularly reviewed progress towards these goals.