The Irish Minister for Education and Skills has announced the trialling of the School Inclusion Model following a visit from a Catalyst for Inclusive Education Expert Advisor.
The Ireland National Council of Special Education invited Jody Carr, Catalyst for Inclusive Education Expert Advisor from the Canadian province of New Brunswick, along with Kendra Frizzell, Principal of Nashwaaksis Middle School and Kim Korotkov, Director of Education Support Services for the New Brunswick Department of Education to present the internationally recognized New Brunswick Inclusive Education and Integrated Services Model to the incoming board of the National Council of Special Education.
Through the model example of the Canadian approach “no special classes, no special schools” Mr. Carr and the Canadian delegation were able to explain the underlying values and success of New Brunswick’s Inclusive Education system and demonstrate inclusive learning in reality.
The Canadian delegation was also featured at a symposium of education partners including educators, unions, family advocacy and academics organized by the Ireland National Council for Special Education. In addition, meetings were held with senior officials of the Department of Education and the National Disability Authority.
Mr. Carr gave special time to meet with immediate past president of Inclusion Europe, Maureen Piggot and provided a 2 hour seminar with staff and representatives with Inclusion Ireland. Mr. Carr went on to deliver a lecture entitled ‘Inclusive Education: Lessons from Canada’ at the School of Education, Trinity College, the University of Dublin, where his colleague Kendra Frizzell delivered a compelling presentation on inclusive education in action.
Less than a week later, the Irish Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. announced a trial to pilot the School Inclusion Model across 75 schools. The model is a new research-based package of education and health supports which aims to build schools’ capacity to include children with additional needs and to provide other supports for pupils.
Minister McHugh said: “Inclusion and access are a core value of our education system. We want every child to have the opportunity to learn and develop as well as they can and to get the supports they need to do that.”
The announcement to trial more inclusive schools is a step towards bringing Ireland in line with Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.