In November, Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) announced the new Dubai Inclusion Framework aimed at improving inclusive education in all sectors across the city.
With an aspiration of being fully inclusive by 2020, they are certainly aiming high with the framework providing clear information on how procedures and standards must change in both private and state schools. In this blog, we look at the implications for schools and for parents of children of determination.
Featuring 10 key standards to ensure inclusion in education, the Dubai Inclusion Framework aligns not only with internal strategy such as the Dubai Disability Strategy and the rights of People of Determination, but teachers and families from the UK will also see consistency with key themes and expectations within the SEND Code of Practice.
Of course, the framework is specific to schools in Dubai and therefore raises questions on how current practices will need to change. Will private schools be allowed to be selective anymore? Who will pay for the adjustment, the school or you, the parent? How will the culture and ethos in schools need to change?
So what is the Dubai Inclusion Framework?
The 10 standards that schools must comply with can be found here. Below we look at the four main themes and implications for schools and families.
A whole school approach
At the heart of the framework is how schools can better support the needs of students with SEND at every level.
Leaders will be held accountable for ensuring the school culture, policy and procedures support inclusion and the progress of all students. They must also regularly monitor and evaluate the provision as part of their Inclusive Education Improvement Plan. In addition, all schools must now nominate a ‘Governor for Inclusive Education’ who holds school leaders account for the provision and outcomes for students with SEND.
All schools must appoint an ‘Inclusion Champion’ who is responsible for promoting inclusive ideas and sharing good practice for supporting SEND students across the school. Schools must also form an ‘Inclusive Education Action Team’ which is responsible for implementing the Inclusive Education Improvement Plan and SEND policies and procedures across the whole school.
Much like the system in the UK, the responsibility of the progress of the students with SEND lies with the classroom teachers. The Inclusion Champion and supporting team are tasked with ensuring teachers are equipped and confident to support different types of need within the classroom, as part of an ongoing professional development programme.
Finally, schools should appoint and designate ‘Learning Support Assistants’ as the term ‘Shadow Teacher’ will no longer be recognised. LSAs will require training and mentoring to work effectively in partnership with the classroom teacher. Crucially, the classroom teacher is responsible for adapting the curriculum to support the child’s needs but the LSA is able to help facilitate this.
Schools should invest in professional learning and training at every level and ensure that they allocate a percentage of their annual budget to supporting inclusion. They should ensure that the cost to families of children with SEND is reasonable. But what ‘reasonable’ look like is still unclear.
Are you a parent of a child of determination? Gabbitas can help find the right school for them. Get in touch to speak to one of our expert consultants today.
At the heart of the new policy is changing attitudes and removing stigma so inclusion becomes the norm within our school cultures. Schools will be held account to reduce the levels of discrimination of SEND.
Students cannot be refused entry based on need and they must have the same rights as any other students. They also have the right to be admitted into their preferred school and that school should provide accommodations and modifications in order for that child to access the curriculum effectively.
This raises questions about the more selective schools within Dubai, how will this work moving forward? As parents, how will you utilise these new rights?
The involvement of key stakeholders is a priority within the new framework. Schools must consult and collaborate with parents and caregivers, whilst also ensuring that student voice is incorporated into their provision. Great news for parents!
The framework is clear that there is still a place for specialist provision within Dubai for learners with severe, complex or profound levels of need. Much like special schools in the UK.
These centres will be expected to share best practice across other schools and work together collaboratively to improve teacher confidence and outcomes for students.
The ultimate aim of the new inclusion policy is of course to improve outcomes for students with SEND. The most effective way to achieve this is by early identification and intervention.
Schools should utilise formal and informal methods of assessment on entry to school to accurately identify types of SEND. This information should then be utilised to inform the type of support and interventions appropriate for the individual child to support progress.
Alongside this, progress should be robustly tracked and monitored to ensure targeted support can be taken.
Finally, schools should work to develop clear pathways to employment or further/higher education for these students. Much like the UK’s ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ agenda, students with SEND should be supported to aspire to work, live independently and contribute to society.