Appendix 3: Inclusive schools matrix

In the table below are three categories related to levels of school inclusiveness for high needs students. These have been developed from ERO’s 2010 report Including Students With High Needs.

Mostly inclusive practice

Schools in this category will show strong inclusive practices in most areas. There may be some aspects of school performance that could be improved – but the performance of a school overall sees students with high needs happy, socially engaged and learning in line with their potential.

The key features of these schools include:

  • Students benefit from learning in mainstream education settings and are only withdrawn for justified educational reasons
  • School leaders consistently demonstrate high ethical standards in striving to support the learning of students with high needs (this includes the principal, middle-management and, where applicable, SENCOs)
  • A school-wide caring culture exists where students with high needs are integrated into a positive social environment, take part in the extra-curricular life of the school and achieve personal academic success
  • A high level of teamwork and cooperation exists in support of students with high needs
  • The school has a flexible and/or innovative approach to meeting student needs
  • Teachers differentiate their teaching programme in order to engage students, including those with high needs
  • Relevant changes have been made to buildings and equipment as indicated by the specific requirements of students with high needs
  • High quality professional development is provided for teachers as well as for teacher aides
  • There is a good level of communication and collaboration between the school, families, whānau and external professionals (i.e. RTLB, health professionals, Ministry of Education – Special Education, CYF)
  • High quality Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are developed that can track developments in student achievement (academic achievement and, where applicable, behavioural and social achievements)
  • The school has effective strategies in place to support the students’ individual needs, including their language, culture and identity. These strategies also take account of the high quality goals developed within IEPs
  • The school manages entry and exit transitions so that students can successfully be included (and achieve)
  • Evidence and feedback about the school’s inclusiveness is analysed to support improvements

Some inclusive practices

Schools with some inclusive practices will show some of the above criteria. However, in comparison to mostly inclusive schools, inclusive practices will exist in ‘pockets’, rather than consistently across most areas. For example, there may be some situations that significantly limit the social and academic potential of students with high needs. Some other examples of practices that may show limited inclusive practice are set out below. These examples need to be weighed up against the overall work of the school in supporting students with high needs to be happy, socially engaged and learning in line with their potential. Specific weaknesses could include:

  • Weak learning plans or IEPs for students with high needs
  • Students socially included but not adequately learning
  • The use of unsuitable strategies to support students’ learning
  • Uncoordinated systems across the school, leading to inconsistent levels of inclusion
  • Inconsistent levels of differentiated teaching
  • Unsupportive transition processes
  • Students with high needs excluded from some activities, such as camps and physical education
  • Parents having to pay for fundamental resources, such as teacher-aide hours
  • Some staff with poor attitudes about including students with high needs
  • No toileting and shower facilities
  • A lack of training for teacher aides
  • Ineffective monitoring of initiatives to support students with high needs
  • Evidence of small-scale bullying

Few inclusive practices

Schools in this category may show inclusive practice in some areas, but have weaknesses in many other areas, leading to significant forms of exclusion for students with high needs. The most important differences between these schools and those with mostly inclusive practices relate to the ethical approach taken by school leaders and staff. Many staff are likely to show a lack of commitment to educating students with high needs. Some examples of practices that may show limited inclusive practice are set out below. These examples need to be weighed up against the overall response of the school in supporting students with high needs to be happy, socially engaged and learning in line with their potential. Specific weaknesses could include:

  • Teachers not convinced about the right of students with high needs to learn and their unwillingness to change to meet the needs of students
  • Appointing an inexperienced teacher as the SENCO
  • Uncoordinated systems
  • Ineffective strategies or policy for supporting students with high needs
  • Poor monitoring and evaluation of student learning
  • Weakly constructed Individual Education Plans
  • Insufficient support and monitoring of the teaching provided for students with high needs
  • Students excluded from extra-curricular, sporting and cultural activities
  • Insufficient focus on building the student’s learning and achievement
  • Poor school-wide culture towards students with high needs