At Little Steps, we thrive to understand all educational models to help fellow parents in finding the school that has the educational model that perfectly suits their children. And recently we had the pleasure of discussing the model of inclusion with Christine Greenberg, Prep & Primary Principal, and Dr. Amoy Hugh-Pennie, Director of Inclusive Education from The Harbour School Hong Kong. The Harbour School is a fully inclusive school, making them experts in the field when it comes to explaining key topics such as: What is inclusion? – How do schools adopt the inclusion method? – What is an “inclusive” classroom?
Inclusion, in education, refers to the model wherein highly gifted or special needs students spend most or all of their time with non-special (general education) needs students. To provide educational opportunities to students to disabled students alongside their non-disabled peers. However the way The Harbour School views and processes inclusion, that every opportunity can be met, meaning that could mean additional support or additional work due to their advanced level. At The Harbour School, there are programs for the highly gifted, which can vary in nature. It does not necessarily mean academic; it can also mean highly creative. It is key that all students can meet the potential of their abilities.
Why would a school need to be inclusive?
We live in a global economy, and we live in a time where immigration is vastly more fluid, making learning 21st-century skills a key element to success as an adult. Fully inclusive school or a school that adopts a partially inclusive method will teach the skills needed to adapt to today's ever globalizing environment.
What is the difference between partial inclusion and full inclusion?
Partial Inclusion: students attend mainstream classes to the degree in which they are able, follow the school's curriculum with some additional support or with a one-to-one teacher. They can attend lessons with the general school's population depending on how much additional support is needed. It naturally varies with each student.
Full Inclusion: students are provided with support during the class, ensuring they meet the academic rigor of the class's expectations. And other behavioral support the student could potentially need
Could a fully inclusive implementation naturally hold the class back to the learning speed of the slowest child?
The way that The Harbour School implements full inclusion is not to hold the class back to the lowest speed. Instead, the school offers opportunities for teachers to collaborate with one another and have joint planning sessions. Allowing them to really look at the different levels of needs in their class and thus can differentiate their materials accordingly so that all of the student's needs are met. Meaning that the teachers can plan for extended activities, opportunities or deeper learning for both the advanced students as well as the ones with difficulties in learning.
How far along is Hong Kong with supporting the inclusive model in schools? How do we compare to other countries?
Hong Kong has come to a place where they understand that there is a need for different levels of support within their school systems. School in Hong Kong are working hard and diligently to provide for those needs, yet they still lack in the necessary resources, Although they are investing a lot of time and effort, especially Hong Kong universities, they will need to catch up with the rest of the world with regards resources and time invested.
Every aspect of instruction in the classroom environment is planned very carefully which includes both the academic structure, but also understanding child development. With an inclusive classroom, adjustments are continuously made to suit the student's needs.
How does inclusive education differ from the mainstreaming model of education?
One often has the assumption when considering a mainstream school that everyone is regarded as " the same" and there are no students present have special needs, which is simply not true. An inclusive school should have a system by which to determine that there are opportunities for students to show what they excel in and areas that they might need additional assistance with. And this system is usually not provided by a mainstream school.
What should parents be asking a school to understand whether they truly offer an inclusion model of education?
Look for a school that adopts the nature inclusion in every aspect of their school, meaning that every system supports the method.
The Harbour School, a U.S. curriculum through-train school, will have two Open Day dates. Join them at their three Hong Kong island campuses, meet their highly accomplished faculty, chat with current THS students and parents, tour our 21st-century campuses and learn about our extraordinary programming. For pre-primary years, the session will be at the Harbour Village on October 27 from 10am to 12pm and for grades 1 to 12 sessions will be held both at the Grove and Garden campuses on November 17 from 10am to 1pm.