A global report into progress on UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal for education has found that more investment is required into professional development and training for Australian teachers in order to improve inclusive education for students with disability and to reduce student exclusion.
The 2020 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report focused on ‘inclusion in education’, paying particular attention to children who have been excluded from education, because of background or ability.
The report found that educational segregation is still prevalent in countries around the world, and that better-quality data and a shared understanding of inclusive education are an important part of addressing this situation.
The GEM Report found that teachers in Australia are often not sufficiently supported to deliver inclusive education to students with disability, with up to one third of Principals receiving no instructional leadership training, and that teachers in Australia reported that they “lacked training on implementing differentiated teaching and adjustments”.
Further, the report found that:
“In Australia, access of students with disabilities to qualified teachers was partly impeded by the system’s overdependence on unqualified support personnel.”
Responding to the report, AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that more investment was needed to provide teachers with the resources they need to support vulnerable students.
“Funding must be allocated more equitably for students with disability, to accurately reflect the needs of these students in public schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“Almost 70 per cent of students with disabilities attend public schools, which work hard to ensure that issues such as access, specialist support, and health and wellbeing are appropriate for their students so that they can learn in a safe environment.”
“But the stark reality is that this cannot be achieved without additional funding so that schools have the resources they need to support students,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“The Commonwealth must take student inclusion seriously and devote funding and resources to assist vulnerable students to access a high-quality education.”
“This includes implementing a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce strategy,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“Research highlights the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and educators in schools, their presence contributes to the overall success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.”
“The Morrison Government must also provide additional funding for specialist support and professional development for teachers to continue to develop inclusive education practices,” Ms Haythorpe said.