Active Schools update: Inclusion and diversity - it's the small things!

The Active Schools Expert Support Service (ESS) team regularly release resources that share further detail and information about the Active Schools Framework with tips on how to best implement it in your school.

We think a fantastic resource worth highlighting is the one produced recently on inclusion and diversity. It is the small things that can make the biggest impact! We challenge you to keep this simple statement at the forefront of your thinking as you read on.

In an educational setting, inclusion and diversity may be defined as all students having access to participate in their learning, the provision of an equal opportunity to take part in all activities on offer alongside their peers and being supported by informed adjustments and teaching strategies tailored to meet their social, emotional, academic, and physical needs.

As educators, it is essential to firstly consider each students strengths, interests, goals and needs. By doing so we create improved opportunities for students to better participate and reach their full potential at school and in life.

While the sporting landscape has changed enormously in recent years, it is a reality that some students experience barriers to participating in sports at school and in their local communities. To ensure that all students can participate equally, we must question what we do as educators when we are aware that these challenges exist.

How can we promote inclusion through our Physical Education curriculum, physical activity opportunities and sports programs? How do we discuss it with other educators?

A person is not defined by a single characteristic such as their age, race, culture, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation or ability. Inclusion is pro-active behaviours, options and actions to make students from all backgrounds and abilities feel welcome and safe. It is important that we provide a myriad of physical activity opportunities that create life-long physical activity seekers.

An inclusive school Physical Education and Sports program should afford a range of opportunities to participate in physical activity, regardless of a student's personal characteristics.

When thinking about inclusion and diversity in your educational setting, consider the ‘7 Pillars of Inclusion’. The pillars place a significant emphasis on our habits, or the things we do, which either support or inhibit inclusion. Once we recognise these patterns of behaviour, we can start to implement adjustments that promote and enable inclusion.

In this approach, the 7 pillars serve as a springboard for creating diversity and can be utilised to address the "how to" of achieving inclusion. The model also assists schools to identify their strengths and weaknesses around inclusion and may help to create a strong and an inclusive culture for sport and physical activity.

To gain a deeper understanding of the 7 pillars of inclusion, please download the PDF resource here.