Why integrate? or should it be why segregate? Are our decisions based on the needs of the individual or the needs of society? How important is social and vocational independence, dignity and respect? Should children be allowed the dignity of taking risks?
This program was developed during the late 80s and early 90s to support disability advocates working with parents with children with disability to build inclusive school communities throughout Victoria. Although the presentation of this program is a little dated, DARU is making it available because the advocacy principles it promotes, and the vision of inclusive education it upholds, is still relevant today. It’s also a wonderful historic resource.
The original title of this learning package was Integration Processes and Perspectives and the term ‘integration’ is used throughout the program. It was the language used in education policy at the time. It described the process of moving students with disability out of special schools and into mainstream schools back then when this was a new idea. Since then, the rights based, student-centred approach has matured and ‘integration’ is no longer used within school communities. It is now described as ‘inclusive education’.
The program was made up of a series of 9 video tapes and an associated workbook that was delivered in group workshop format. In order to make the material an online course, DARU has digitised the original VHS footage and improved the sound quality where possible, and redesigned the workbook while retaining all the original content. This new online version has left out the sections from the workbook pertaining to group activities and some of the follow up notes.
About this learning package
The learning package Integration Processes and Perspectives has its origins in the numerous workshops, seminars and weekend conferences held across Victoria. They were run jointly by the Victorian Federation of State Schools Parents’ Clubs (VFSSPC), the Victorian Parent Advocacy Collective (VPAC) and the Institute of Educational Administration (IEA).
When participants applied to attend these workshops, seminars and conferences preference was given to teams of people from school settings. Such teams included principals, parents of students with a disability, students, classroom teachers, integration teachers, integration aides, regional and school support centre personnel and special school staff.
The videos were made in response to a demand for positive and comprehensive information about the processes that are part of the implementation of integration at the school level and the perspectives of the people involved.
All presenters on the videos are people who have been active participants in the integration processes at school, regional and state level in Victoria. The videos represent actual material, which they have prepared and presented at conferences.
About Victorian Parent Advocacy Collective (VPAC)
Joan Reidy was the mover and shaker at VPAC, keeping the Collective’s members focussed and working closely with Joan Kirner (Education Minister 1988-90 then Premier of Victoria 1990-92), within the state school parents clubs. Some of the structures that were developed in schools, in partnership with the Education Department, are still in place today.
VPAC is no longer in existence but in 1989, it was comprised of the following groups:
- The Victorian Federation of State Schools Parent’s Clubs,
- STAR Victorian Action on Intellectual Disability
- Downs Syndrome Association
- Visually Impaired Children’s Parents Association
- Victorian Council of Schools Organisations
- Community Based Educational Resource
- Muscular Dystrophy Association of Victoria Inc.
- Action Group for Disabled Children
- Parent Action in Deafness
- ADEC (Action on Disability in Ethnic Communities)
- Sherbrooke Community Disability Resource (The Chandler Project)
Doing this course
This is a self paced, unaccredited course. There are two ways of completing this course:
- Online – Progress through the modules and complete the quizzes as you go. The quizzes are not graded and are designed to reflect on what you are learning.
- Traditional – Download the workbook as pdf or as a word version and watch the videos on the DARU Youtube playlist.
The five guiding principles, which underpin government policy on integration, are discussed in detail. Within a historical context, we then view the collaborative, decision-making model, which is instrumental in the integration process.
As a parent, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the professionals or experts? Joan Reidy, Co-ordinator of the Victorian Parent Advocacy Collective, discusses parent advocacy and the role of parent advocates in empowering parents to fully participate in the integration process.
The procedures for the implementation of the Ministry of Education policy on the integration of students with disabilities into the regular schools of the State school system are outlined in the booklet Integration Support Group Procedures for Regular Schools. Information from this document is clearly presented.
The shared decision making approach of the Integration Support Group is valued by all its members. Each member’s perspectives and feelings are discussed in detail.
Jenny Papadimitriou tells of her struggle in the transition from a special school to a regular school, “My friends were getting something that I wasn't. They were more outgoing. For somebody not involved in the Integration program you were a half person, a burden on society. I felt different. Something must be wrong with me. I was leading two different lives – one where I was treated as normal and one where I was treated as special.”
Jennifer, who has filled the dual roles of class teacher and integration teacher, talks of her initial feelings of anxiety and her subsequent enthusiasm as she developed her understanding of her role in integration.
Adam attends his local secondary college. He commenced his education in a day training centre. His mother relates the day-to-day events that marked Adam’s growth towards independence, and allowed him to reveal his true abilities.
Starting with a shared knowledge of the skills of students (including those with disabilities and impairments) and the presumption that they will learn, leads to a much more positive perception of the school as a place full of opportunities.