The SEND Code of Practice focuses on inclusive teaching and removing barriers to learning, but if this isn’t reason enough to ensure your teaching practice is inclusive, many studies have shown that pupils with and without learning difficulties learning together has a positive impact on both groups. Here are some of the benefits:
- Pupils connect with course materials that are relevant to them, making learning more engaging for pupils across the board.
- Pupils feel comfortable in the classroom environment to build on their learning through voicing their own opinions, ideas and questions.
- All pupils are more likely to experience success through activities that are supported by their different learning styles and abilities.
- Pupils develop a greater tolerance and understanding of each other’s differences, promoting a more inclusive whole-school environment and nurturing compassion.
- Pupils feel equally valued by both teaching staff and their peers.
How to make your classroom and teaching inclusion-friendly
- Ensure that every student has access to the materials they need in order to learn. For example, if a pupil has problems with their motor skills, make sure that they have a special pencil they can use close by; if a pupil has visual processing difficulties, ensure that you have printed their worksheets onto coloured paper.
- Ensure that pupils are working at a level which is suitable for them and allow them to learn at their own pace. All pupils need to experience success, so make sure that learning targets are specific, attainable and measurable, but also challenge the pupils.
- Create an inclusive environment. Make sure your pupils know that it is okay to struggle with something, encourage mistakes and praise those pupils who always try their hardest, regardless of their results.
- Encourage children to make their own choices as often as possible – some of pupils’ most powerful learning comes from taking risks and learning from mistakes. It might be that they can choose their own activity from options with the same learning objective, or choose their own topic of interest for a project which needs to demonstrate certain skills, for example.
- Provide a number of activities with the same learning objective that address multiple learning styles, enabling pupils to make choices and learn in small groups. For example, pupils may complete a spelling activity by cutting and pasting letters from a magazine, tracing letters in the air with an extended arm or torch, building word families to see the connections between words, using rhymes or familiar tunes to memorise a spelling, or playing Scrabble.
- Try to present information in a variety of ways so your pupils can receive it in their preferred learning style. You could try teaching using verbal cues, visuals such as videos and pictures, music, and tactile activities. This will help all pupils enjoy their lessons and remember what they have learnt.
- As far as possible, allow your pupils to demonstrate their understanding in a way that suits them when it comes to being assessed. For example, if a pupil struggles with writing, let them give an oral presentation rather than take a written test.
- Establish ground rules for effective classroom management, such as keeping noise to an acceptable level, and accountability for completing an activity. Take time to remind your pupils of the rules and make sure they are followed.