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Schools in Dubai will now have more reasons to be ‘fully-inclusive’ with the launch of a guide by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) aimed at further enhancing inclusive education.

All private schools in Dubai will now have to ensure the formation of an inclusion support team to support the principal in achieving a vision of inclusive education in practice. Inclusion support teams will include inclusion champion, the leader of provision for students of determination and representation from both support teachers and learning support assistants

The measures are being introduced as part of Dubai’s move to become a fully-inclusive city by 2020 and part of a new guide aimed at creating a system-wide change and helping build an inclusive system of education.

Schools are encouraged to move away from a medical model of assessing any special needs and instead being asked to create life-defining experiences for students of determination and their families.

Fatma Belrehif, CEO of the Dubai School Inspection Bureau at KHDA said, “We are aware of the challenges and opportunities in our journey towards building a fully-inclusive education system. The launch of this new guide for schools is a reflection of our commitment to scale-up efforts and enable schools to create a welcoming environment for everyone. This will only be possible when the entire school community values diversity and believes in creating engaging, relevant and meaningful experiences for students of determination.”

The guide covers new procedures for admission, assessment, identification, intervention, systematic support and resourcing for schools.

Fatma added, “Our conversations with schools are now centred on how we can make progress in overcoming barriers to educational access, participation and engagement. We want to enable schools to have a better understanding and more effective implementation of the standards set out in Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework.”

Leadership for inclusive education

Further enhancing the role of school principals and governing boards, the guide outlines the importance of strong leadership. School principals are expected to work with school inclusion teams:

  • effectively communicate a vision of inclusion, ensuring the engagement of the entire school community
  • develop and implement a comprehensive and strategic inclusive education improvement plan
  • ensure staff are able to use inclusive education practices
  • monitor and review progress of strategic plans

Three-level planning for schools

Identifying a common need to support inclusive education, the guide outlines a three-level plan for school leaders.

  • Level 1: High-quality teaching where teachers accommodate individual differences in ability, learning style and behaviour, through effectively differentiated classroom practice. Other teaching strategies that can be used include frequent informal and formal assessment and different types of grouping.
  • Level 2: Personal support and/or curriculum modification to enable a student to engage with and participate in, appropriately challenging learning experiences and achieve within age-related expectations.
  • Level 3: Individualised programmes to accelerate progress or enable students to achieve their potential. This provision is likely to include the use of specialist approaches, intervention or support services.

Clearer roles for school staff

New roles will be added to all private schools across Dubai to ensure better support for students of determination. These include:

  • Inclusion champion: A knowledgeable educator and a skilled practitioner who support the development of inclusive attitudes and approaches
  • Leader of provision for students of determination: Plays a crucial role in supporting classroom teachers to identify and develop specific approaches in the classroom so that every student is empowered to succeed.
  • Support teacher: Applies inclusive approaches within their teaching practices. They should spend no less than 60 per cent of their time engaged in activities that directly influence the inclusive competence of classroom teachers.
  • Learning support assistant (LSA): Replaces the former ‘shadow teacher’. LSAs should be trained in using different approaches to lower barriers to learning and to facilitate student engagement and participation within relevant and meaningful learning opportunities.