The latest United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report on inclusion in education has found that Australian teachers are not sufficiently supported to deliver inclusive education to students with disability.
The global report into progress on UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal for education found that more investment is required into professional development and training for Australian teachers to improve inclusive education for students with disability and to reduce student exclusion.
The 2020 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report said up to one third of principals receive no instructional leadership training, and that teachers in Australia reported that they “lacked training on implementing differentiated teaching and adjustments”.
“In Australia, access of students with disabilities to qualified teachers was partly impeded by the system’s overdependence on unqualified support personnel,” the report said.
Responding to the report, Australian Education Union (AEU) federal president Correna Haythorpe said funding must be allocated more equitably for students with disability, to accurately reflect the needs of these students in public schools.
“Almost 70% 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,” she said.
“But the stark reality is that this cannot be achieved without additional funding so that schools have the resources they need to support students”.
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,” Haythorpe said, pointing to research that 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”.
Haythorpe also called on the Federal Government to provide additional funding for specialist support and professional development for teachers to continue to develop inclusive education practices.