Adapting Schools For Covid 19: New Pedagogies and Technologies May Revolutionise Academic Inclusion.
Inclusion seems to be the buzz word in independent schools and international schools right now, and quite rightly so. The shift to incorporate more flexible, hybrid and technologically focused approaches to teaching and learning during Covid may well provide us with the ultimate solution to academic inclusion - truly learner focused learning, and individualised study plans and assessments, which means everyone is included.
What is real "inclusion"?
In an excellent article for COBIS, Andy Bloor, Med PGCE BA(Hons) FHEA FRSA a Senior Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), outlined true inclusion as a journey and not an end point which is:
Dynamic: a constantly evolving journey that responds effectively to the changing needs of the child.
Bespoke: a tailored approach to the situation, context and individuals in it.
Holistic: recognises that truly inclusive practice is not about what is ‘done’ but about the underpinning beliefs and values held and practiced by all.
If we were to reflect, those of us who responded to the teaching and learning challenges in school posed by Covid 19, through platforms such as Google Classroom and Google Meet, we could clearly agree that we had every opportunity to be dynamic and bespoke and to respond quickly to learning needs and feedback. Therefore, the technology and pedagogy we were using, has the potential to be truly inclusive, and to have a transformational impact on our learners.
The rapid learning curve of teachers and senior school leaders who embraced technology during lockdown, has now given them the potential for a competitive edge, and lasting and meaningful solutions to real inclusion. The holistic part of technology lies in our ability to harness its power to personalise learning for individual students, and to make that journey individualised so all students feel included in, and empowered by, their learning.
International School Student Demographics - driving inclusion
The international school market is dynamic and constantly changing. Over the last five years there has been an increased demand for, and growth in, bilingual schools, which are admitting more local students. Alongside this, there has also been a rise in students with additional needs, meaning international schools are having to be innovative in their planning and resourcing for both SEND and EAL. This was identified in the ISC Research Reports "International School Market: A Global Overview" 2019, and "Inclusion In International Schools" published in collaboration with the NFI this year.
Learner Focused Learning - With Technology
Schools that take a learner focused approach are naturally inclusive, striving to meet the needs and interests of the students where they are at. Technology provides a dynamic platform to respond to needs and quickly identify challenges and extend students to achieve their full potential.
The educational fallout from Covid 19 lockdowns could enable us to think differently about academic inclusion, and will hopefully drive us to consider technology, AI and learner focused learning as the real silver lining in this cloud.
International Head and UK Independent School Senior Leader