Thursday, June 12, 2014

Primary School Inclusion: The Nuts and Bolts #1

#1 Leadership with Vision

From the first time I met Ann Morton, the principal of Pinelands North Primary School, I could see that pursuing inclusive education in her school was not just 'a thing that she did', but it was a core value to her as a individual. And inclusion, for her, is not just about children with special needs, it is about embracing, celebrating and actively engaging with cultural, racial, gender, learning needs and economic diversity. Something deep in her soul is convinced that all children benefit from "doing school" alongside those who are different to them. I remember my first meeting with her and watching her eyes light with fire when she talked about a school system and environment that recognises each child as an individual and works towards each child's unique educational progress. These were not just words...these seemed to be the air that she breathed.

Ann's passion and vision has, over the years, has been translated into the various layers of school leadership and worked into the cogs that keep the school turning. More about that in a future post.

In my search for a school that was open to including Matt I knew that reading websites, year books, and pamphlets was not enough. I knew that I had to actually look into the eyes of the principal to see what their heart and values were when they heard about Matt and when they talked about how they could include him. I intuitively felt that successful inclusive education is largely determined by leadership, and after meeting Ann, I am now certain of this.

Blog posts in this series:
Introduction - for more on why I am doing this series on how inclusion can work in real life
# 2 A Flexible System with Creative Solutions
# 3 The Learning Support Co-ordinator
# 4 The Facilitator
# 5 The Classroom

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