Inclusive education is ensuring that every student has access to quality schooling – regardless of their home situation, financial standing, mental health, academic ability or previous experiences of educational success. Inclusive education ensures a future that offers equal opportunities to all young people.
The current mainstream education system is not suited to all students. Current policies provide funding to schools based on student attendance – ‘bums on seats’ funding – which neglects students who are better suited to alternative learning arrangements.
Education that engages all needs to give consideration to the individual learner and to the situations that young people face in the moment and throughout their educational endeavours. Presenting issues in young people, such as experiences of trauma, mental health complexities, homelessness and family violence, create the need for alternative education models.
Following the global pandemic, flexible and individualised learning has become more normalised as we are more readily accepting a blend of virtual and in-person classes. There are clear benefits to individualised, student-centred education – creating opportunities for innovation within practical applications.
MCM and Hester Hornbrook Academy advocates for education that prioritises each student’s unique and individual needs – both at home and in the classroom – to create learning environments that leaves no one behind.
We are calling on the Federal Government to ensure that the model of non-government school funding reflects valid measures of student need, so that independent flexible learning models such as Hester Hornbrook remain an accessible and viable education pathway for disengaged learners.
We are calling on the Victorian Government, including the Department of Education and Training, to ensure all education reforms are inclusive of all students – including those who don’t benefit from a traditional school setting. For education to be truly inclusive and accessible, it must consider all students no matter their circumstances.
Part of this must be increasing access to flexible and remote learning options – such as through independent Specialist Assistance Schools (SAS), including MCM’s independently registered SAS Hester Hornbrook Academy. These schools provide additional supports for students who need it, such as students in out of home care, with mental health complexities or those facing other challenges.
The issue, and why we are calling for reform, is that Specialist Assistance Schools are generally overlooked in education reform when compared to both government and non-government programs. If we continue to neglect the schools looking after some of our most vulnerable students, these students will continue to be left behind.