The Educational Rights of Students with Diverse Needs

The Educational Rights of Students with Diverse Needs

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and the Disability Standards for Education seek to protect the educational rights of students with disabilities. They elaborate the legal obligations related to inclusive education (Wong, & Butler, 2012). The aim is to foster a high-quality education for children with certain disadvantages. Students with disabilities are guaranteed major educational rights under the DDA, such as the right to obtain free and appropriate public education, the right to be taught in the most integrated social environment and the right to be instructed by qualified teachers (Yell, Shriner, & Katsiyannis, 2006). Special and general teachers are mandated to help children reduce the effect of their disability by implementing central principles of DDA. They are under obligation to adapt the content, instructional design and methodology to meet diverse needs of these students. This l statute also finances intensive services related to their education. They protect the educational rights of students’ diversity by providing funding to help in educating children with disability (Yell, et al, 2006). DDA ensures children with disability or learning problems are not expelled due to their behaviors. Any expelled student from school receives educational services in an alternative environment. This includes developing individualized education plans (IEP) for students with diverse needs. Both general and special teachers are chosen to join IEPs. Educational rights ensure that children with diverse needs are accorded an education.

DDA has many implications for teachers. The legislation is very complex and teachers must understand its essence, which is to use special education to provide educational services to disadvantaged students. To be able to provide individualized educational services, teachers must conduct a pertinent assessment of students to get information about the students’ functional and academic needs (Yell, Shriner & Katsiyannis, 2006).

Analyzing Key Sentences from Text

“The fundamental principle of Inclusive Education is that all children should have the opportunity to learn together,” (UNESCO, 2005: 29). The implication of this statement is that all children and young people have a right to be educated together irrespective of any disability or special need. This inclusion agenda is igniting debates about the role of educational specialists in the discipline of special education, their purpose and the currently existing special educational facilities. While people accept the wisdom of inclusive schooling, experts and scholars in the education sector are engaged in a debate as to whether inclusion is achievable and if so, how it would be achieved. Inclusive education is viewed as core to equal opportunities and human rights. Inclusion challenges those practices and policies that threaten to exclude some groups of students from receiving their educational rights. There is no doubt, however, that without inclusive education, some groups of children will be excluded or discriminated against.

It (inclusive schooling) can be thought of as an approach that seeks to address ‘barriers to learning and participation,’ and provide ‘resources to support learning and participation,’ (Winter & O’Raw, 2010:4). The concept of inclusion includes children with disabilities and those who are at risk of exclusion or marginalization. Addressing barriers to participation and learning serves to increase the schools’ capacity to respond to students’ diversity. Students with Down syndrome grow and learn best when included in general educational procedures. With appropriate support, the focus student will show tremendous gains. Given that the student loves sports and has good social skills, this provides an opportunity to understand his or her strengths and support that child develop the capacity of negotiating the social world, socializing, making friends and sharing experiences with peers and family.


Multi-view Table of Key Stakeholders

Major stakeholders in inclusive schooling include teachers, principal, the student’s parents, and classmates. These stakeholders are enabled to create their solutions through sharing and brainstorming of DDAs and successful stories.

Stakeholders Principal Teachers Classmates Parent Student with diverse needs
Perspective -Effects change in the mainstream school system

-Stress the importance of treating all students with diverse needs as full members

-Work with families

Provide support to teachers

-Create a child-centered curriculum,

-Welcome a child and encourage full participation

-Involve parents and empower families

-Collaborate with other professionals and teachers in creating an inclusive environment

-Share experience and  DDAs about potential solutions to faced barriers in inclusive schooling

-Inclusion increases other students’ understanding of varied disabilities in a compassionate and caring way

-Inclusion promotes interactive learning and teaching

-It encourages peer assistance

-Family involvement in inclusion is vital

-A parent gains understanding what is inclusion and is encouraged to express concerns and hope

-As advocates, parents prepare the child and communicates with teachers to share concerns and achievements

-Active engagement and involvement of the student is essentially

-The student must have access to resources and support to meet individual potential

-Include the child in all activities, both outside and inside classroom

Mind Map for Those with Disability





Slow in acquiring new physical skills

Slow in processing information

Slow in understanding complex instructions

Inability to maintain concentration

Slow to learn new skills for age-appropriate tasks


Down’s syndrome
A genetic condition and cause of learning disability

May have impairment in communication, processing information and functional status

Have some strength and are visual learners


·          Visual learning skills

·          Good short memory

·          Strong social skills

·          Strong empathy for others

·          Interested in Sport

·          Fine motor skills










Learning opportunities
Physical inclusion

Promote active participation in physical education

Since the child enjoy sports, encourage participation in favorite games


Present content and curriculum in different ways:

Use visual and practical learning materials

Provide opportunities to practice learning and new skills

Use visuals aids to scaffold language skills

Use the student’s social language to develop other skills

Differentiate instructions and learning styles

Present new concepts and skills using visual materials

Educational planning should be based on a child’s level of skill and interests


Stimulate interest by:

Allocating additional time to finish tasks

Split complex instructions and tasks into small smaller pieces

Teach the student to apply specific skills to diverse situations


Optimal Learning Environment

·          Optimal environment contribute to cognitive, social and intellectual development (Couzens & Cuskelly, 2014)

·          Involve the student in all facets of school and classroom life and routines

·          Support and encourage the development of play skills

·          Support inclusion with peers

·          Encourage age-appropriate behavior




























Synthesis and Critiquing

Children with Down syndrome have unique needs. Boyle and Provott (2012) call upon teachers to understand that every student has unique strengths, skills, and backgrounds. This knowledge can help teachers to understand the impact of teaching approach, environmental factors, and context on a child. Having the knowledge about etiological weakness and strengths of Down syndrome could help teachers working with students with the condition meet their unique needs. These children display strengths in implicit memory, visual processing visual imitation and visual-motor integrations (Fidler & Nadel, 2007). Knowing these strengths could inform curriculum design, educational approaches and designing learning environments based on these strengths in order to maximize learning.

Acceptance of diversity and exposure that children with Down syndrome get from inclusive learning is phenomenal. Inclusion benefits these children behaviorally, socially and academically. Dmitriev (2008) argues that children with Down syndrome show delayed development in certain areas like emotional, cognitive and mental. Allowing such children to take part in inclusive education enables them to improve skills both in and out of classroom life. Participation in inclusive education not only improves the cognitive skills of these children, but they are also able to master goals set by parents and teachers. Reilly (2014) claims that inclusion enables a child with Down syndrome to work on specific skills and learn from watching their average peers perform same tasks. In addition, inclusion provides numerous social opportunities and interactions for the child to learn social skills. Encouraging inclusion and participation in class creates a sense of belonging and boosts the confidence of a child with Down syndrome (Messiou, 2012).

Teachers have raised concerns about having children with disability in the mainstream classrooms. Some of the concerns reported include extra planning requirements, time constraints, and support issues. They argue that inclusive classrooms require making changes to learning and teaching approaches.


The provision of appropriate education and support in inclusive environments provides the best learning opportunities for students with Down syndrome. Studies have shown that educating students with disabilities in separate special classrooms makes it difficult to offer optimal learning opportunities (Hughes, 2006). By contrast, children included in general classes show significant gains in language skills, writing skills, social independence and general knowledge. To achieve this, teachers must ensure full inclusion of the curriculum; provide an optimal learning environment, support inclusion and participation in physical education (Hughes, 2006). Children with Down syndrome have almost similar needs with general peers and can register progress if socially accepted and included in activities, both in and out of classrooms. A class teacher should not be left with the sole responsibility for inclusion, but relevant stakeholder must work together to ensure its success. In fact, inclusion is about the collaboration of various stakeholders.















Boyle, J., & Provott, M. (2012). Strategies for Teaching Students with Disabilities in Inclusive Classrooms. United States: Pearson Education Inc.

Couzens, D., &Cuskelly, M. (2014). Cognitive strengths and weaknesses for informing educational practice. In R. Faragher & B. Clarke (Eds.), Educating learners with Down syndrome research, theory, and practice with children and adolescents, pp. 41-59.Oxon: Routledge.

Dmitrev, V. (2008). Early Education for Children with Down syndrome: time to begin. Austin, Texas: Pro-Ed

Fidler, D., & Nadel, L. (2007). Education and children with Down syndrome: Neuroscience, development, and intervention. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13(3), 262–271

Hughes, J. (2006). Inclusive education for individuals with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome News and Updates, 6(1), 1-3.

Messiou, K. (2012). Collaborating with children in exploring marginalization: an approach to inclusive education. International Journal of Inclusive Education,16(12), 1311-1322

Reilly, C. (2012). Behavioral phenotypes and special educational needs: Is aetiology important in the classroom? Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 56(10), 929-946.

Sharma, U. (2012). Changing pre-service teachers’ beliefs to teach in inclusive classrooms in Victoria, Australia. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(10), 1-12

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).(2005) Guidelines for inclusion: Ensuring access to Education for all. Retrieved on March 3, 2017 from

Special Education. Retrieved on March 3, 2017 from

Winter, E. & O’Raw, P. (2010). Literature review on the principles and practices relating to inclusive education for children with special educational needs. Meath: NCSE. Retrieved on April 3, 2017 from

Wong, B. Y. L., & Butler, D. (2012). Learning about learning disabilities. Oxford: Academic.

Yell, M., Shriner, J., & Katsiyannis, A. (2006). Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 and DDA Regulations of 2006: Implications for Educators, Administrators, and Teacher Trainers. Focus Exceptional Children, 31(1), 1-24















Cooperative Learning Reflection

Cooperative learning is the frequently suggested pedagogical approach for effecting inclusive education. Cooperative learning is an instructional strategy in which learners work in together in groups.  It involves assistance, support, teamwork, problem solving and group accountability. Having common goals to explore, investigate, and increase knowledge via assigned tasks signals powerful message that team efforts are both valued and capable of achieving positive results. When peers work on task together, academic gains are realized across many subjects, thinking skills and social skills are increased (Bucalos & Lingo, 2005).

Cooperative learning embraces the notion that the best learning process occurs when learners are actively involved in the process and collaborate with others to accomplish the shared goal. It uses both the learner’s own experience and others’ experience to expand knowledge. More importantly, the focus shifts shift from a teacher-centered learning to student-centered learning (Messiou, 2012). Thus, learners are able to experience collaboratively structured learning in an inclusive classroom in which a teacher gives them the knowledge that respects for diversity, shared power, and collective success are meaningful and valuable ways to coexists together. The role of the teacher is intertwined with the gains of cooperative learning. The teacher creates conditions that allow students to be active, thick critically, find relationships and construct meaning.

Cooperative learning has become an essential instructional strategy for supporting inclusion and diversity. The strategy is seen as an effective pedagogical approach that promotes a sense of inclusion, allowing peers to learn from one another based on their won experience.  Studies examining the advantages of cooperating learning for diverse students have documented mixed results (Gillies, 2008; Gillies, & Boyle, 2010).  Bucalos and Lingo (2005) reported that normal students are aware of what students with disability not understand and that through collaborative teams students can explain concepts or materials in ways that others understand. Students have the ability to scaffold each other’s learning and offer crucial support in ways that adults are unable (Hansen, 2012). As Bucalos and Lingo (2005) noted cooperative learning promotes the development of academic skills and prosocial skills. Students express their thoughts freely, receive constructive feedback and have room to respond.  By monitoring students’ active learning, teachers can redirect groups to learning tasks, as well as offer re-teaching when appropriate.

On the other hand, teachers can struggle to implement cooperative activities in the classrooms due to time constraints and challenges in meeting the special needs of diverse students. Students with disability be may not be treated with sensitivity they deserve as their special needs tend to bring unwarranted attention. Cooperative tasks must be well organized and supervised by a teacher in order to be meaningful. For example, the teacher must organize students into groups, and in each group, the teacher must assign students who cannot overwhelm one another while in the task (Hansen, 2012). The task of assigning groups to students of different ethnicities, different cognitive abilities, gender and different levels of English proficiency is not easy. Cooperative learning is considered the most effective strategy for teaching all students. However, heterogeneous grouping research shows that students can only gain from heterogeneous groupings if they have interpersonal skills and understand how to operate in groups (Gillies, 2008). Catering for the needs of indigenous student and EAL/D students in general classrooms can be a challenge to some general teachers. To structure cooperative groups, a teacher must consider critical aspects like individual and group accountability, group size, learning goals and mixed-ability groupings. Mangrola (2014) found that effectively implemented cooperative learning benefits both general students and special with disabilities. Peers can be valuable linguistic and academic resources for each other when they collaborate together to accomplish a task. Second Language dialect (EAL/D) students can acquire English language in social contexts through cooperative learning with peers. De Jong (2013) describes how educators with limited proficiency in native language can provide their learners with an additive experience. De Jong suggested that educators use cross-age tutoring and group strategies to promote English language acquisition.

Implementing cooperating learning in classrooms with indigenous students and EAL/D students requires support and considerable input. It also requires preparing students to work together. The teacher must develop learning goals and shared goals that students should accomplish.  Goal setting and student preparedness increases the effectiveness of cooperative learning.

The findings of assessment A are consistent with research conducted on teacher’s take of indigenous EAL/D and indigenous students in inclusive classrooms. Teachers claimed working with diverse students gave them extra work to do. They felt overwhelmed and professionally inadequate with the additional workload that EALD students bring in the cooperative classroom. These students command extra attention. They feel the pressure to perform despite lacking strategies to give knowledge about other cultures and languages (Sillitoe, 2015). Other challenges faced by teachers have to do with composing groups, identifying motivating tasks to encourage students to work in groups and communication issues. Although it promotes social interaction, cooperative learning task had no provision for EALD students’ needs.

The role of a teacher is to create the best environment for cooperative learning. The teacher must organize students into groups, and in each group, the teacher must assign students who cannot overwhelm one another while in the task (Hansen, 2012). The task of assigning groups to students of different ethnicities, different cognitive abilities, gender and different levels of English proficiency is not easy. In fact, learning from other students in cooperative groups is complex to achieve, but as the teacher, one must ensure students learn much information from peers.

For cooperative learning to be successful, students should be taught how to interact. Interactions can be fostered by teaching students to work cooperatively. Teaching students skills that facilitate cooperation is one way of preparing them. Indeed, cooperative learning requires thorough preparation and execution to ensure the major elements of effective work are created. Tasks should be constructed in a way that makes students understand they are required to complete them (Gillies, & Boyle, 2010). Students need to share the task and accept varied roles and participate in decision making in a democratic way.













Agarwal, R., & Nagar, N. (2011). Cooperative learning. Delhi: Kalpaz Publications.

Bucalos, A. L., & Lingo, A. S. (2005). Filling the potholes in the road to inclusion: Successful research-based strategies for intermediate and middle school students with mild disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, 1(4).

De Jong, E. (2013). Preparing mainstream teachers for multilingual classrooms. Association of Mexican-American Educators (AMAE), Special Invited Issue, 7(2), 40-48

Gillies, R. & Boyle, M. (2010).Teachers’ reflections on cooperative learning: Issues of implementation. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 933-940

Gillies, R. (2008). The effects of cooperative learning on junior high school students’ behaviors, discourse, and learning during a science-based learning activity. School Psychology International, 29, 328e347.

Gillies, R.M. and Ashman, A.F. (2000). The Effects of Cooperative Learning on Students with Learning Difficulties in the Lower Elementary School. Journal of Special Education, 34(1), 19-27.

Gillies, R.M. and Boyle, M. (2006). Ten Australian elementary teachers’ discourse and reported pedagogical practices during cooperative learning.  The Elementary School Journal, 106(5), 429-451.

Hansen, J.N. (2012). Limits to inclusion. International Journal of Inclusive Education 1(1), 89-98

Mangrola, B. (2014). Effectiveness of cooperative learning in teaching science in standard viii. Voice of Research, 2(4), 4-5.

Messiou, K. (2012). Collaborating with children in exploring marginalization: an approach to inclusive education. International Journal of Inclusive Education,16(12), 1311-1322.

Sillitoe, P. (Ed) (2015). Indigenous Studies and Engaged Anthropology: The Collaborative Moment. London: Taylor & Francis Group:



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