Text reads: Children and young people with disability.

The need for inclusive education

group of six young, school aged children playing and hugging on the carpet in a school library.



Written by Ashleigh Keating.

At the moment, there is a push to make education 100% inclusive by 2030.

You read that right. In seven years, we should expect to no longer see students in wheelchairs having issues getting into school buildings. Autistic students no longer having to deal with loud classrooms putting them into overload. Those with intellectual disabilities will be provided with appropriate specialised curriculum that integrates them fully into mainstream learning environments.

I know. Sounds great. Finally, we will be ending ableism in all schools. Teachers who currently have little to no formal training in disability will automatically know how to support every disability out there. Every disabled student will have the correct funding and support systems put in place.

Call me a pessimist if you want, but I can’t see this happening. Perhaps I’ve had too many negative experiences from my own educational journey, both academically and professional, but I don’t see how a centuries old institution is going to suddenly change its way of thinking in just seven years.

Pre-service Teachers are still not required to learn about disability in their four years of study, and if they are taught about disability in education, it is usually only a very small portion of what should actually be taught.

The current system usually sees non-disabled “experts” delivering professional development (PD) to teachers. These “experts” in turn usually only have experience of disability through a basic educational process. It is not working, and no one actually wants to admit it.

From where we are at the moment, I just cannot see all the relevant stakeholders coming up with a cohesive plan that pleases all sides of disability and education in just seven years. I think it is unfair to promise to disabled students and our parents/careers that this will happen.

We absolutely deserve to have inclusive education, and we deserve a fully transparent process for change.