Success for All? Re-envisioning New Zealand Schools and Classrooms as Places Where ‘Rights’ Replace ‘Special’
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Contemporary understandings of inclusive education increasingly emphasise processes of reform, within and between schools, and across education systems, which respond to diversity amongst all students. The goal of an equitable, high quality and welcoming system in which all students are present, participating and achieving in their local school is central to the inclusive education movement. Nonetheless, inclusion is still often seen as an approach to support children with disabilities in local, rather than segregated, school contexts. In New Zealand, for example, inclusion is subsumed under policies, funding regimes and practices within a field designated as ‘special education’, where equity is primarily associated with the redistribution of resources. In this article, we suggest that the struggle for equity in education is compromised by the continued representation of some students, their teachers and school experiences as ‘special’. We endorse the call to position education within a ‘rights’ based framework that associates equity with recognition and a positive regard for disability and diversity. We critique current policy and practice in New Zealand, prior to imagining what an equitable education for all students could be, given a shift in thinking from ‘special needs’ to rights.
KeywordsEquity Inclusive education Special education Rights Success for All
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