Tracey Ferguson, Head of Inclusion, GEMS Metropole School – Motor City discusses how schools can become more involved in supporting students of determination.
Just as every child is unique, so should be their education. Not everyone learns, interacts, speaks or looks the same and it is up to us as educators to learn from them and help them access a world that is not always as user friendly as we would like it to be, and prepare them with the skills to be as independent as possible. With Dubai’s goal of becoming a fully inclusive city by 2020 we need to support our school teams in continuing to strengthen a comprehensive education system, and that all begins with working as a team to cater for students with varying needs.
From the view of the Inclusion Department, it is imperative that we support the class teachers in developing their understanding and skill sets to help every individual in their class. Everyone has moments of frustration, joy, happiness and feeling ‘stuck,’ but there are a few ways around that. By working together, respecting each other’s views and environments, communicating and team teaching, we can learn from each other what certain student behaviour means. As educators we will never stop learning about how we can make that difference to each child. Inclusion teams should have an open-door policy to be available to anyone who has questions or wants to learn more about different needs or get involved in specialising in Inclusive Education.
How to get involved in inclusive education
Look out for any therapy centres that host professional development training opportunities as well as awareness days outside of the school environment – this is a great way to bring the school community together. Real Training Group has recently launched a Master of Education Special Educational Needs & Disability (MEd SEND) which is a wonderful step should you wish to study further and specialise in the inclusion field.
In-house professional development opportunities should be differentiated too, catering for new staff who may need that little extra support in finding their footing in terms of meeting the expectations set out by The Knowledge and Human Development Authority’s (KHDA) Inclusion Framework, but also catering to the staff who have been with a school longer. Pair teachers together to promote best practices amongst the teams.
As educators we will never stop learning about how we can make that difference to each child. – Tracey Ferguson
Where possible, ask students what works for them and how to make their learning more accessible. Develop rapport with external therapy providers who work with students in the school and involve them in developing individualised education programme (IEP) targets together as a team. A number of GEMS networks provide the opportunity to meet with likeminded professionals and discuss, guide and support each other in moving in the direction of compliance for the framework. Reach out for support. We are a huge network of schools, all working towards the same goal of inclusive practice, and working together can achieve this goal.
GEMS Metropole School, Dubai adopted the US team consisting of over 300 athletes as part of the Adopt-A-Nation Program, supporting the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.