A world-class curriculum needs to inspire and challenge all learners and prepare them for the future. To achieve this, personalised, imaginative and flexible approaches to learning are essential.

Inclusion is about the active presence, participation and achievement of all pupils in a meaningful and relevant set of learning experiences. Some of these experiences will come from the national curriculum; others, equally important, will come from the wider curriculum in and beyond the classroom. An effective inclusive school needs to adopt a whole-school approach to the curriculum. One of the main purposes of the whole-school curriculum will be to establish the entitlement to a range of high-quality teaching and learning experiences, irrespective of social background, culture, race, gender, differences in ability and disabilities.

What is an inclusive curriculum?

An inclusive curriculum is one where all learners:

  • see the relevance of the curriculum to their own experiences and aspirations

  • have sufficient opportunities to succeed in their learning at the highest standard.

Curriculum development should be informed by a detailed knowledge and understanding of what is currently happening, together with an analysis of what works well and what could be improved. The self-evaluation process that the school will engage in may form the beginning of this process. Some information may be gained by analysing performance results, but there are other equally important sources of evidence such as the pupils’ opinions of what works well, the pupils’ progression routes beyond school, and the professional observations of staff and other adults who may have an overview of the school’s curriculum.

At this stage, it is important to identify any groups of pupils who are not benefiting as fully as others from the current curriculum offer, and to consider if additional support and new experiences in and beyond the classroom could be helpful.

Planning a whole-school approach to inclusion

Planning for inclusion means thinking about how the curriculum can be designed to match the needs and interests of the full range of learners. These will need to be addressed both inside and outside the classroom.

The learners may include:

  • the gifted and talented

  • learners with learning difficulties and disabilities

  • learners who are learning English as an additional language

  • the different needs of boys and girls

  • children who are in care

  • learners with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Young people will also bring a range of different cultural perspectives and experiences. These can be reflected in the curriculum and used to further an understanding of the importance of diversity issues.

Teachers may find that a useful starting point for planning is the school's disability equality scheme, race equality scheme, gender equality scheme and other equality policies - combined with a comprehensive overview of learners from various groups. This information can then be used to draw up a framework for curriculum review. Teachers will also be able to identify the appropriate points at which to involve learners in some developments.

A whole-school approach to inclusion is fundamental when considering curriculum planning. Subject and classroom teachers cannot plan for inclusion in isolation, as the whole-school case studies that are in the non-statutory guidance demonstrate.



Last updated 25 June 2008.