Inclusive education is where all children and young people are engaged and achieve through being present, participating, learning and belonging. There is a wide range of tools to help your school or early learning service support students with diverse needs. You also need to be aware of your legal obligations.
Defining inclusive education
At fully inclusive schools, all students are welcome and are able to take part in all aspects of school life. Diversity is respected and upheld. Inclusive schools believe all students are confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners and work towards this within the New Zealand Curriculum. Students’ identities, languages, abilities, and talents are recognised and affirmed and their learning needs are addressed.
Find out more about inclusive education on our Inclusive Education website (external link) .
Legal and binding obligations to include all learners
Inclusive education is founded in the Education Act 1989, which says: “people who have special education needs (whether because of disability or otherwise) have the same rights to enrol and receive education at state schools as people who do not”.
New Zealand schools also have binding obligations under the New Zealand Disability Strategy (external link) and United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (external link) to include and provide a quality education for all learners.
This obligation is backed up by the New Zealand Curriculum, Te Whāriki (the early childhood education curriculum) and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (the curriculum for Māori-medium settings).
Tools to support inclusive practices in schools
We have developed a wide range of resources to help schools and early childhood services support learners with diverse needs
Success for all [PDF, 1.1 MB] looks at how the Ministry of Education defines and describes inclusive education and the values that underpin inclusive education.
Inclusive practice in secondary schools [PDF, 522 KB] provides secondary schools with some inclusive practice perspectives and conversation starters.
Collaboration for Success (external link) looks at effective Individual Education Plan processes.
Catalogue of resources to support inclusive practices in schools [PDF, 1.3 MB] lists all of the resources available to support schools, and where to download or order them.
Self review tools
ERO indicators (external link) look at how the Education Review Office evaluates inclusive school.
What an inclusive school looks like [PDF, 258 KB] infosheet from the Ministry of Education examines the various elements of what makes an inclusive school.
Inclusive Practices Tools (external link) website provides a series of student, staff and community surveys and audits schools can use to identify their strengths and areas to develop.
Guidance on effective governance and building inclusive schools (external link) outlines the responsibilities of school boards of trustees to lead inclusive schools.
Board webinars (external link) assist boards of trustees to prioritise aspirations for students with special education needs.
School and classroom practice tools
Inclusive Education website (external link) is a collection of practical ‘how to’ guides aimed at supporting teachers and school leaders to meet the diverse needs of all learners.
Inclusive Practices and School Curriculum online modules help school leaders and teachers plan for all students within the New Zealand Curriculum and adapt and differentiate in the least obtrusive way.
Inclusive education (external link) video series includes more than 20 videos of teachers and students talking about and demonstrating inclusive practices.
IEPOnline (external link) provides practical information on developing successful Individual Education Plan processes.
Education for All (external link) video follows 2 students and looks at how their teachers and schools have made sure that they are involved, included and challenged at school.
Teachers and teacher aide online modules (external link) - 9 modules that teachers and teacher aides complete together to strengthen working relationships, improve role clarity, and build knowledge of inclusive practice.
Te Hao Angitu – Māori Medium Special Education
If you have any questions about these resources, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ko wai au? Who am I? See my voice? (external link) is an exhibition empowering Maori rangatahi who identify as Deaf to share their aspirations with others. You can order booklets through Down the Back of the Chair, or download the Ko Wai Au Booklet as a PDF [PDF, 3.4 MB].
Me, Myself and I [PDF, 1.9 MB] is the story of Ngaputu Adam Watling, and was developed to inspire youth with disabilities to strive for their best and to set high objectives. Download as a PDF.
PB4L Māori Medium Resources look to enhance understanding of Māori perspectives across the Positive Behaviour for Learning programmes.
He Piringa Whānau – Effective engagement with whānau [PDF, 2 MB] is a practical learning resource helping Ministry staff engagements and interactions with Māori whānau. It is developed for those working with Māori with special education needs and is suitable for those who have little or no experience in relationships with whānau.
He Piringa Whānau pre and post questionnaire [PDF, 619 KB] helps participants measure how they have improved and helps inform how we could improve the resource.
He Piringa Whānau Video (external link) scenarios are for use with the main document above. For each scenario, watch 'take 1' and reflect on what is good about the interactions shown and what could be improved. Then watch 'take 2' and consider in what ways the interactions shown are improved from 'take 1'. The second takes are not intended to portray perfect practice, but to show some clear improvement on the first takes.
He Piringa Whānau Facilitation Guide (external link) is available to people who are delivering the training to teams. For a password to this video contact email@example.com.
Not sure who to talk to about inclusive education?
Your local Ministry office should always be your first point of contact – ask to speak to someone about inclusive education.
Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback