Inclusive School Communities
Each school community is unique, and variants will depend on factors, for example:
- Geographical location
- The needs of learners in the school
- The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)
- Engagement levels from within and out with the school
- and many more.
An inclusive school ethos for autistic learners indeed for all children and young people includes the creation of supportive learning environments and adapting learning environments to specific needs. Creating a positive learning environment through positive relationships and behaviour is the responsibility of everyone in each community of learning. For autistic children and young people this means all those who are involved in developing the inclusive school community have an understanding of what autism means and the appropriate ways to support them and their families.
Further information is available in the section ‘Understanding Autism’.
School leaders have an important role in creating and delivering on their vision for inclusive education and support for autism which values diversity among staff, encourages collegiality and supports innovation. School strategic plans should make clear the value of diversity, that all learners are entitled to be active participants in the life of the school community, the high expectations for attainment and achievement of all learners and mechanisms for shared leadership, teamwork and collaboration improvement work.
What makes a school feel inclusive to autistic children and young people?
Five areas have been highlighted by The Young Ambassadors for Inclusion, some of whom are autistic, that they feel make a difference to how included they feel within their school community.
The Young Ambassadors for Inclusion are young people with additional support needs, who were nominated by their local authority to join a network which provides an opportunity for them to share their views and experiences of Scottish education. Through discussion and activities, the Young Ambassadors identified the ways they felt schools were doing well in their provision of inclusive education and also where improvements could be made.
The resources developed with the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion are freely available and aim to
- Raise awareness of inclusion
- Provide free resources for professional development
Below are 2 quotes from the film ‘Ask us, Hear us, Include us’ made by the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion in which they share their experiences of inclusion and what they feel it means.
“Just not being someone on the outside looking in and be able to have the same opportunity and education”
Young Ambassadors for Inclusion 2018
“So it’s nice for people not just to presume that you can’t do something”
Young Ambassadors for Inclusion 2018
Developing inclusive school communities to support autistic children, young people and their families.
An inclusive school ethos includes the creation of supportive learning environments and adapting learning environments to specific needs. Creating a inclusive learning environment through positive relationships and behaviour is the responsibility of everyone in each community of learning. This approach will improve the support for autistic learners and their families as awareness of autism inclusion, wellbeing and equality is embedded across the school community. Information and professional learning on Inclusive practice can be shared at:
- Parental/carer information sessions
- Staff information sessions
- School websites
- Set up and lead a collegiate /network group
- Link with the schools in your management group/cluster
- Engage with the development of school policies
- Provide professional development session at in-service events