12 June 2023
Nurturing and supporting students to thrive in their schools and classrooms is the key to inclusive education.
This belief is the focus of the 400 educators, school and system leaders, researchers, and policymakers who recently attended the Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) inaugural Inclusive Education symposium.
School Principals and Support Teachers – Inclusive Education gathered at ‘Active and Engaged – Creating Our Better Future’ to discuss and implement ways to remove barriers to access and participation, and in doing so improve the lives of current and future students.
On the agenda was BCE’s vision for inclusive education, and how that vision creates and nurtures safe, supportive and inclusive communities, said Head of Education Marisa Dann.
“This symposium will improve the lives of our students across our 146 schools by creating environments which nurture and support all students to progress their learning and wellbeing within the classroom – with participants discussing and implementing ways we can remove barriers to access and participation,” Ms Dann said.
“Leveraging on the experts, researchers, policymakers, and the ideas our school leaders and Support Teachers generate, we aimed to create a consistent and whole system perspective on inclusive education and discuss what is contemporary within the Inclusive Education space.
“As educators we should always be strive to do and be better within the inclusive education space, and creating an invaluable opportunity for discussion, reflection, and generating of ideas.”
Ms Dann said BCE was uniquely positioned to implement true inclusive education.
“We are called to do so through our mission and faith,” she said.
“At BCE we aim to give our 77,000 students an authentic view of society throughout their schooling years. Society is made up of all kinds of people, whether that be ethnicity, disabilities, giftedness, and uniqueness.
“It’s up to us as educators to ensure our growing minds are provided rich learning environments where they can experience the people they will be living and working with or advocating for in the future.”
One of the Guest Speakers from the IE Symposium was Professor Suzanne Carrington, a professor at The Centre for Inclusive Education and a member of the Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Prof Carrington’s areas of expertise are in inclusive education, ethical leadership for inclusive schools, disability, and teacher preparation for inclusive schools, and says it’s important school leaders make time for dialogue and planning within the inclusive education space.
“Taking time out from busy day-to-day life in schools to hear about new ideas and consider how they can be applied within a school setting is vital,” Prof Carrington said. “I would like the symposium participants to become transformative leaders in their school communities and work collaboratively with inclusive education champions, who have shared values to support inclusion, challenge the status quo and collectively drive change.”
As part of the IE Symposium, every BCE school received a copy of the book Inclusive Education for the 21st Century edited by Professor Linda Graham from QUT, which provides an overview of the foundational principles of inclusive education and the barriers to access and participation.
Participants also had the opportunity to ask questions from guest speakers, Graeme Innes – Chancellor of Central Queensland University and Director of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), Professor Suzanne Carrington, and Professor Beth Saggers – School of Early Education and Inclusive Education, QUT.
BCE Alumni Olivia Hargroder was also a guest speaker at the symposium. The former Southern Cross Catholic College student is a member of the Down Syndrome Association of Queensland.