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How parents can ensure their child has a more inclusive learning experience

Dubai: Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has issued a step-by-step guide for parents of children of determination or those who may experience barriers to learning.

The guide is aimed at providing parents with an understanding of their rights, responsibilities and opportunities when navigating the system of inclusive education, and to empower parents to become effective advocates for their children. So, if your child is facing a learning difficulty, or is a child of determination, these are the six steps that will help ensure he or she has a more inclusive learning experience.

Step 1: Select an inclusive school for your child

The first step is to select the school that best fits your needs. You can do so by looking at the school’s location, curriculum and/or school fee range as well as the KHDA’s yearly Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) reports.

The school’s website will also give you a good idea of its policy when it comes to students of determination, whether an inclusive education system is part of the school’s vision and objectives and what are the policies and procedures in place for the admission of students of determination.

You can also contact the school to arrange a visit and, if satisfied, begin the formal application process for getting your child a placement in the school.

Step 2: Complete an Entry Assessment of Need

Once you have applied for admission, you will receive an invitation from the school to attend an ‘assessment of need’ for your child.

Attend the assessment with your child and share any information that you have about your child’s needs and abilities, including existing medical assessments or diagnostic reports.

If your child is offered a place at the school, you will receive a notification from the school. This should be communicated formally in writing, including the need for any additional paid service, which your child might need. The additional paid services will be mentioned in an Individualised Service Agreement between the school and the parent, which needs to be submitted to KHDA.

If the school does not offer a place to your child you must be notified of this in writing. In this case, the school must complete KHDA’s Non-Admission Notification Form and submit this to KHDA for monitoring and evaluation purposes. This process should also be followed if your child is placed on the school’s waiting list or is not re-enrolled in a school.

Another option available to schools and parents is to apply for the ‘Rahhal’ programme, which offers more flexible learning, as it is a platform designed for remote learning. This is offered by specific schools, as it is a voluntary programme created in collaboration between schools and KHDA. To get a list of schools that offer the Rahhal programme, click here.

Step 3: Identify barriers that restrict your child’s learning

This is the most important step towards developing an effective educational programme for children, where the school identifies and understands the child’s barriers to learning. This will be based on the results of the ‘Assessment of need’ conducted earlier. Once the school identifies the learning challenges for a child, they will share the results with the parents. The information collected will indicate that either:

• your child is a Student of Determination or

• your child experiences barriers to learning for a different reason.

In case your child is identified as a Student of Determination, the school will explain to you the relevant condition, difficulty or disorder and will provide either level 1, 2 or 3 support for your child.

In case your child is not identified as a Student of Determination, the school will conduct further investigations to identify and better understand alternative causes for the change in their performance and outcomes.

The school will then discuss with you on the most appropriate support arrangements to reduce or remove the barriers to learning experienced by your child.

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Step 4: Implement support to lower barriers to learning

Once an effective education programme is in place, the next step to ensure that your child’s daily education needs are taken care of is by understanding who the child’s teachers and support personnel are and knowing who to contact in case you have any questions or concerns.

The school is expected to explain who will be providing support for your child, how it will take place, and what type of support it will be.

Step 5: Developing an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for your child and establishing an Indivdualised Service Agreement

For students with more complex learning challenges, which require more targeted and individualised support plans, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be formulated after detailed discussions between the school, the parents and any additional specialists, as needed.

In case the IEP requires additional paid services, this needs to be written in to the Individualised Service Agreement form, which is then submitted to KHDA.

Step 6: Communicate about and contribute to your child’s education

Once the plans are in place and you have had discussions with the school, you are better placed to know who to reach out to, in case you have questions or concerns and also understand your responsibility to support your child’s education. You are required to regularly stay in touch with your child’s educators and communicate regarding any challenges he or she may be facing.