‘Inclusion of students with disabilities into mainstream schools is a worldwide trend’ (Sharma, Forlin & Loreman, 2008, p.773) yet, Australia is amongst one of the last developed countries to introduce inclusive practices (Anderson, Klassen & Georgiou, 2007). Which seems quite unbelievable considering students with disabilities attending mainstream school is on a remarkable increase, jumping 11 percent in 1995 to 1996 alone.
Before the introduction of an inclusive education, many schools were using the integration model, where students with disabilities were enrolled in mainstreams schools with little or no consideration of their learning needs, and the expectations that all students will improve and benefit without any consideration (Mu, Brown, Peyton, Rodger, Huang, Wu, Watson, Stagnitti, Hutton, Casey & Hong, 2010). ‘Inclusion is something more than this,’ (Bailey, 2004 p.76) inclusion is where students with disabilities ‘receive education alongside their general education peers’ (Mu et al., 2010). The content does not change, it is differentiated and they are supported appropriately the whole time.
Recent research on inclusive practices in Australian schools has discovered a range of implications which has been hindering its success rate. A main factor found is the attitudes of teachers and principals, with many believing schools are not provided with additional training and resources to make it successful. This paper will discuss the reasons which schools, particularly teachers embrace or disapprove the new change, and discusses the impact these attitudes may have on pre-service teachers.
Is it just too stressful?
When implementing change in any workforce, strategies to support and guide the staff through the transition must be provided. Unfortunately, recent research has found a lot of Australian teachers state they have not received additional training on inclusive practices, which has left them feeling inexperienced and stressed (Allan, 2003; Anderson, Klassen & Georgiou, 2007; Forlin, 2001; Forlin, Hattie & Douglas, 1996 & Naidoo, 2009). Many teachers are implying the stress is caused by the extra workload little to no networking time, receiving no changes to class sizes, limited resources and little to no preparation time (Anderson, Klassen & Georgiou, 2007; Forlin, 2001; Naidoo, 2009 & Riggs & Due, 2011). This has left a number of teachers feeling unwilling to accept a child with a disability into the regular classroom’ (Forlin, Hattie & Douglas (1996) and exposing a trend of negative attitudes in educational systems towards inclusion.
This is a major concern, as research has found that 10 percent of teachers and principals the mindset that ‘inclusion’ is too stressful believe that there has been ‘no benefits’ since implementing practices (Anderson et al., 2007 p.137), and often believe that that it is distracting and unfair, as the teachers time is tied up with the disabled students’ with little time spent working one on one with...