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About this resource

Inclusive Practice and the School Curriculum is a resource for teachers and leaders in New Zealand English-medium school settings. It has been developed to build professional knowledge and create a shared understanding of inclusive practice within the New Zealand Curriculum. It is anticipated that providers of PLD will draw on the resource as they work in and with schools to develop effective and inclusive teaching and learning programmes. 


The Government’s vision of a fully inclusive education system has at its heart the goal of confident students, confident parents and whānau, and confident school teachers and leaders. Success for All: Every School, Every Child outlines the Ministry of Education’s commitment to achieving this goal. Inclusive education is about the participation and achievement of all learners. Inclusive schools believe in all students becoming capable, connected life-long learners and work towards this within The New Zealand Curriculum.

To strengthen and support schools’ inclusive practice, the Ministry has been creating learning materials to support schools and their communities as they develop inclusive practice within the school curriculum. These include the Inclusive Education: Guides for Schools website, the Teachers and Teachers’ Aides Working Together modules, Inclusive Practice in Secondary Schools: Ideas for School Leaders, and this resource.

These materials endorse an inclusive approach in which:

  • the classroom teacher is responsible for the learning of all students in their class
  • all students can participate, engage, achieve, and belong in the classroom or learning environment
  • teachers’ practice systematically builds on what we know works
  • professional learning and development is provided by PLD facilitators, school leaders, specialist teachers, and Ministry of Education staff.

This icon brings together the symbols we associate with the New Zealand Curriculum and inclusive education:

  • The nautilus is a symbol of growth, of intellectual and spiritual development that builds on what has gone before.
  • The tip of the feather represents our maunga (mountains), our heritage and foundation, challenging us to ascend and strive for success; the three koru represent three fountains of Ka Hikitia – the learner, whānau, and professionals.

Integrating these two symbols signals that in New Zealand we have one education system for all.


Inclusive Practice and the School Curriculum will help teachers to address the following key question:

How do I plan and teach so that every student in my class:

  • participates meaningfully with their peers
  • engages in appropriate opportunities for learning
  • achieves within the New Zealand Curriculum
  • has their identity valued and respected?

As a result of using Inclusive Practice and the School Curriculum, school leaders and teachers will:

  • recognise how their beliefs and actions can enhance students’ access to the curriculum
  • identify ways to include all students, supporting them to engage and work with their peers
  • investigate planning and teaching strategies for including all students within the curriculum, while taking into account individual strengths and challenges
  • reflect on and evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies, as evidenced by students’ progress and achievement.

Inclusive Practice and the School Curriculum is designed to help schools to fully include students with special education needs1. Many of the examples in this resource focus on students who require a range of supports to access learning. If their learning needs are not well supported, students with additional needs may become vulnerable to separation from their peers or to being excluded from learning.

Using the resource

The audiences for Inclusive Practice and the School Curriculum are primary and secondary teachers and leaders in English-medium school settings. For some schools, the messages in the resource will reflect practices and policies that are valued and enacted on a daily basis. For others, it may signal a need for change towards policies and actions that include all students.

Inclusive Practice and the School Curriculum is not prescriptive – it is intended to be used flexibly, allowing educators to respond to the unique learning priorities of their school. Most sections include learning activities that support educators to interact with the ideas in the text and to apply them in their own contexts. These activities are suggestions: participants and PLD providers will select from them or create other options based on their knowledge of a school’s practices and needs. The examples from the classroom are accompanied by suggestions for how to use them, and the guidelines for facilitating professional learning provide further guidance and ideas for working with the resource.

Throughout the resource there are links to the classroom examples and to further reading and related resources, including video clips and interviews. If you are working with hard copy, you will need to access the online version in order to activate many of these links.

Inclusive Practice and the School Curriculum can be used alongside other Ministry inclusive education resources, such as the Inclusive Education and Through Different Eyes websites, and with school-wide self-review websites such as the Inclusive Practices Tools, the Wellbeing at School tools, or the Ruia self-review tools.

The Ministry of Education acknowledges the contributions of the following in developing these resources:

  • the Inclusive Education Capability Building (IECB) project team
  • the IECB Sector Advisory Group
  • critical friends to the IECB project.

[1] Note that in Ministry of Education resources, students with special education needs are also referred to as ‘students with additional needs’, ‘students with additional support needs’, ‘students with disabilities’, and ‘students with diverse needs’.

Published on: 12 May 2015