Why Inclusion Matters films

March 15, 2021 by admin

Some excellent films on Inclusion in British Columbia and Finland made about the visits of two Early Years educators from Singapore seeking alternatives to the rigid, assessment driven high stakes testing of Singapore by the Lien Foundation. I recommend them highly. 

Richard Rieser CEO World of Inclusion Ltd

Why Inclusion Matters

Inclusive education values children as individuals and enables them to belong, participate and achieve their full potential regardless of their learning differences. It is the basic building block of an inclusive society.

Schools are places where we need to start cultivating skills such as social sensitivity, collaboration and the ability to work with others who are different. There is strong, consistent evidence that an inclusive education – where children with special needs learn alongside typically developing peers with adequate support – benefits all children.

A review of 280 research studies from 25 countries by the Harvard Graduate School of Education found those with special needs who are educated in mainstream settings make greater gains in all areas of development than their peers in segregated settings. For typical children, being educated alongside a child with a special need does not lead to negative consequences. In fact, they gain academically and socially from inclusion over time.

Beyond locating these children in the same classrooms, effective inclusion requires educators to develop a better understanding of their strengths and provide multiple pathways to learn. Such efforts can help to break the boundaries between “mainstream” and “special” education and broaden the repertoire of skills, pedagogical practices and capabilities in schools to deal with diversity more effectively.

What is “How We Do School”

An initiative of the Lien Foundation, How We Do School is a nine episode series of short films that explores how Finnish and British Columbia schools address the increasingly diverse learning needs of its students and what we can learn from them.

We took two Singapore educators from the early childhood education and special education sectors – Dr Jacqueline Chung, Senior Principal and Academic Director at St James’ Church Kindergarten and Ms Tan Sze Wee, Executive Director at Rainbow Centre – to Finland and British Columbia to learn their journeys towards greater inclusivity and equity in its education system. By showing what is possible, we hope this can in turn inspire Singapore and inform ways that we can go about making inclusion more of a reality.

Why British Columbia?

Canada, similar to Finland and Singapore, is ranked highly on global education indicators and regarded as a leading nation in the area of inclusive education and disability.

Ideas about inclusive education have developed over the decades. British Columbia, one of the 10 provinces in the country with a similar population as Singapore, began with separate schools run by parents of children with disabilities in the 1960s. It moved quickly to segregated classrooms within public schools, and eventually to schools where students with special needs are included in regular classrooms with other typical children. By the early 2000s, there were no more special education schools in the province’s , as policies shifted to resource classroom teachers appropriately with assistants and access to professionals like therapists and consultants in special education.

Families were the primary force behind this move as they advocated for their children with special needs to attend school in their neighbourhood and receive the support required for their children to be successful in regular classroom settings, instead of segregated programmes. Since the 1950s, ground-up groups like Inclusion BCFamily Support Institute and PLAN, run by professionals who are parents of children with disabilities, have journeyed with government to empower families after them and progress standards of inclusion in schools. There is much to learn from British Columbia, which has made inclusion a hallmark of its educational system, as its stakeholders navigate shrinking budgets and political changes to get students and teachers the support they need.

Read More: The Big Read with TODAY Online

Why Finland?

Finland, like Singapore, is ranked highly on global education indicators. At the same time, it is based on equity and idea of ‘education for all’, which have been key drivers in developing an inclusive education system. The country stopped building special education schools back in the 1990s and has since moved to close down many of these segregated schools over the years.

In fact, its three-tiered system of support to meet the diverse learning needs of its students is built into its mainstream education system and is often cited as one of the key factors behind the country’s high equity and high performance in international comparisons.

While the number of students requiring special education hasn’t decreased, it was a strategic move to provide special education within mainstream school class settings. Finland’s journey offers insights on how we can improve and calibrate our education system to stay relevant as we gear all children to be productive members of society.”

Read more: Learning for all, the Finnish way with The Straits Times


How We Do School: British Columbia Filmed 2019 

Episode 1 Bridging the Divide https://youtu.be/XT0n5uTSjyY
Episode 2 Forging Friendships https://youtu.be/vTxm5Rx36F8
Episode 3 Learners in Progress https://youtu.be/xVfUseGt5IY
Episode 4 Teaming Up https://youtu.be/f-5poIBv44E
Episode 5  Power to Parents https://youtu.be/1mH0LIOfwhw

How We Do School :Finland  Filmed 2018

Episode 1 What’s So Special https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aheDzMrKuEM
Episode 2 Teaching TwoGether https://youtu.be/6RJ-Y3xmyFo
Episode 3 School for All https://youtu.be/ceWeIKLfgv8
Episode 4 Out of School Into the World https://youtu.be/WI-OlkoLDEk