By Catia Malaquias
The Australian Government has quietly tabled its Response dated March 2017 to the Senate Committee’s Report entitled “Access to real learning: the impact of policy, funding and culture on students with disability” (released on 15 January 2016).
I commented upon the Senate’s report (click here to read my full comment). In particular, I noted:
- the importance of the Senate Committee’s recommendation that the Commonwealth Government should work with the States to establish a national strategy that recognises all students with disabilities as learners to “drive the cultural change required to achieve this, particularly at school leadership level” – this recommendation being in light of the Committee recognising the adverse impact on student outcomes of:
- low (or no) expectations for students with disability;
- informal and formal discouragement of enrolment of students with disability by local mainstream schools – in other words “gate-keeping” in favour of special schools and special units; and
- lack of inclusive vision and values at the school leadership level; and
- that the Committee recognised that the weight of evidence supported mainstream schooling over segregated special schools and units in maximising outcomes for students with disabilities.
Since the Senate Committee’s report was released, the UN Committee released General Comment No. 4 on Article 24 (Inclusive Education) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Convention). The General Comment, which clarifies the right to inclusive education, firmly endorses education of students with disabilities in regular mainstream settings with appropriate accommodations and assistance and curricular adjustments and calls for State parties, including Australia, to develop a specific national inclusive education strategy and to transfer resources from segregated special units and schools to regular mainstream settings.
Click here to read more.