Frian Wadia is extremely passionate about inclusive education. A mother of three boys with varying abilities, and a qualified ECE and Early Intervention teacher, she uses her professional and lived experience within the education and health sectors to advocate for systemic change. While also empowering families and young people to recognise and advocate their rights for equity across the system. Frian among her many roles, is also a board member of Parent to Parent.
Frian spoke to Parent to Parent about her passion for true inclusive education and shared some helpful advice to parents and caregivers to support them on the journey to inclusive education. We have summarised these tips and tricks below.
Recognise your rights!
Inclusive education is a fundamental right for every child. As a parent/caregiver It is important to understand your child’s rights when interacting with the education system. A rights-based approach goes hand in hand with inclusive education, and leading with this, shifts the narrative from a perception that education, and full inclusion is a favour to the child, or the family. By bringing children’s rights to the forefront of conversations, it helps to advocate the importance of fair and just education, whereby ethnicity, gender, religion, socio-economic status, or disability are not obstacles to achieving true inclusive education.
Build a network of support!
Having a strong circle of support from friends, family, other parents and professionals, supports you to advocate for your child, and work towards positive outcomes for your family. A shared voice is always louder than a single voice, and connecting with others who share a common goal or experience can be an empowering experience.
Shift attitudes around diversity!
To establish successful inclusive practices, a cultural shift in attitude that supports and nurtures diversity, increases the opportunity for everyone to get involved in creating a positive and inclusive society for all. By highlighting your child in a positive light, and sharing the unique contribution your child makes to home life, it is easier for schools to value the diversity your child brings to the school.
Create a collaborative relationship with the school!
Establishing a good parent teacher relationship can provide the best learning environment, both at home and at school. This is especially important when it comes to inclusive education.
Working together with your child’s teacher and school is the best way to help a child succeed and can ensure appropriate teaching methods, inclusive of the family cultural and religious values, are tailored to your child’s needs.
Have a vision!
A clear vision for your child’s aspirations, current and future, is an important strategy. Consider what inclusive education looks like for your child and your family? What does your child want to achieve at school, and outside of school? Sharing this vision with educators and professionals that support your child is helpful for them to understand yours and your child’s goals and wishes. It also provides a clear framework and direction that educators working with your child can aspire to. When people are inspired, they are more likely to support a common goal. When the journey gets hard, having a vision to go back to is a good strategy for staying positive about the future, and staying strong on your path.
What steps to take when inclusion isn’t happening…
If/when issues arise, start the process of resolution using a solution focused approach. It isn’t always easy when parents and caregivers are met with an unsupportive school, and Frian shares some suggestions around this below.
Inclusive education is about providing appropriate supports that allow ALL students to achieve their full potential. All students regardless of difference or disability have the right to be educated alongside their peers in mainstream classrooms. Inclusive education is vital to creating an inclusive society. As the 1994 Salamanca statement describes “regular schools with this inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society, and achieving education for all” (UNESCO, 1994, Article 2).
To learn more about Frian’s journey with inclusive education, you can listen to her Podcast
UNESCO. (1994). The Salamanca World Conference on Special Needs Education: Access and Quality. UNESCO and the Ministry of Education, Spain. Partis: UNESCO https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000098427