School climate

Research has shown that a positive school climate not only decreases student absenteeism and dropout rates (Center for Social and Emotional Education, 2010) but it also has a significant incidence in primary students’ academic performance (OREALC-UNESCO, 2008). School climate encompass all aspects related to how members of the school community perceive and experience the school. For example, how welcomed, valued and respected they feel. Bias such as discrimination, racism, sexism, and homophobia create negative school climates, and ultimately undermine student’s learning experiences (Greytak et al, 2016). School climate also refers to all the institutional aspects –such as values and norms–, the interpersonal relationships established between school members, the teaching and learning practices, and safety inside the school.

Policies meant to enhance school’s climate –particularly for groups who have been traditionally excluded and marginalized– is essential to build equitable and inclusive education systems.

References
Centre for Excellence in Universal Design NDA (National Education Authority). 2014. What is Universal Design. Accessed 19 February 2019: http://universaldesign.ie/What-is-Universal-Design/

Faour, M. 2012. The Arab World’s Education Report Card: School Climate and Citizenship Skills. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved from: http://carnegieendowment.org/files/school_climate.pdf

Greytak, E.A.; Kosciw, J.G.; Villenas, C.; Giga, N.M. 2016. From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, A Survey of U.S. Secondary School Students and Teachers. New York: GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/research/teasing-torment-school-climate-revisited-survey-us-seconda

IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. 2018d. Brief 3: The psycho-social school environment. Accessed 27 September 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/issue-briefs/improve-learning/schools-and-classrooms/the-psycho-social-school-environment

López, V. 2014. Education and Development Post-2015: School Climate. Notes Nº4. Santiago de Chile: OREALC-UNESCO (Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean). Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/FIELD/Santiago/pdf/APUNTE04-ING.pdf

Mkumbo, K. 2013. Does School Environment Affect Student Achievement? Dar es Salaam: HakiElimu. Retrieved from: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/library/does-school-environment-affect-student-achievement-an-investigation-into-the-relationship

OREALC-UNESCO (Oficina Regional de Educación para América Latina y el Caribe). 2008. Los aprendizajes de los estudiantes de América Latina y el Caribe. Primer reporte del Segundo Estudio Regional Comparativo y Educativo, SERCE. Santiago de Chile : OREALC-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0016/001606/160660s.pdf

UNESCO Bangkok. 2016. Happy Schools! A Framework for Learner Well-being in the Asia-Pacific. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002441/244140e.pdf

Promising policy options

Institutional reforms to enhance school climate

It is necessary for decision-makers at the national level to consider school climate as part of their educational policies. In this aspect, multiple initiatives have been developed in many countries around the globe, with some countries passing laws to enhance school climate (e.g. Colombia’s School Climate Law, Law 1620 of 2013), and with others promoting policies which aim to create ‘Happy Schools’ (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016).

Other examples of this include the Gross National Happiness GNH Index in Bhutan, which was designed to include measurement of various aspects of educational well-being (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016), Japan revising its School Education Act to emphasise the importance of ‘Happy Schools’ (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016), Singapore’s Ministry of Education introducing Social and Emotional Learning SEL in schools (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016), and Vanuatu’s National Curriculum Statement being meant to promote happiness in schools (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016).

National policies must be complemented by school actions. Planning interventions for school climate improvement is essential to maximize the use of resources and generate lasting effects. This is one of the school head’s major tasks. However, the school climate will only improve if the planned interventions are accepted and supported by the school community (teachers, students, parents/guardians, community). The following strategies facilitate the school’s climate improvement process:

  • Create a ‘School Climate Planning Team’: create the team with multiple stakeholders who represent the diversity within the school’s community, for example, people from different ethnicities, religious groups, people with disabilities, women, sexual minorities, people from different socio-economic status, among others. They should be in charge of coordinating, leading and monitoring the efforts related to school climate improvement. Although the school heads must be either directly involved or constantly updated about the actions, it is essential to foster the team’s autonomy. To do this, team members must have sufficient knowledge of school climate, support from key district authorities and school leaders, time and resources.
  • Define the school’s climate vision: the vision describes what school’s stakeholders comprehend by school climate (each school will have a different definition depending on the components they consider fundamental.) The vision –accompanied by an action plan–  will guide the school climate improvement process. Align school-level interventions with ongoing policy efforts at the national and district level (e.g. the initiative ‘Classrooms in Peace’ –Aulas en Paz– in Bogota, Colombia, aligned the efforts done at a national level concerning the integration of citizenship skills in the curriculum with whole-school strategies (López, 2014).)
  • Engage stakeholders: parents, community members, teachers, students, school and district staff must feel welcome in order to engage in the school’s climate transformation (e.g. in Akita Prefecture, Japan, the policy has been developed to ensure that the schools are always open for parents, relatives or community members who wish to participate or offer their support to the school (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016).) In order to help them participate effectively, stakeholders must receive appropriate training and support, as well as communications concerning the school climate interventions. Stakeholders should be encouraged to give their input and feedback about the efforts being done.

*For more information on parental and community involvement in schools consult Policy page Relationship between schools and their community.

  • Collect and report school climate data: Schools will not be able to improve their climate without having sufficient information on their progress and what still needs to be improved. This is why defining and organizing assessments must be a top priority for the ‘School Climate Planning Team’. Determine the type of data that will be collected, analysed and reported as well as who will participate in the data collection process.
  • Decide and create the measurement instruments: research shows that school climate is best evaluated through valid and reliable surveys that collect data consistently across members of the school community. However, in order to get a broader picture, it is important to complement surveys’ data with other methods such as focus groups, observational methods, interviews and study circles. Data will provide evidence of how stakeholders perceive the school climate. Discrepancies in perceptions among various stakeholder groups are very important as they illustrate what needs to be improved (e.g. school violence may appear to be a mild problem for the staff in one school while being a severe problem for its students.)

It is recommendable to provide a final summary report of the data analysis. If possible, disaggregate collected data by a subpopulation of students (race, sex, disability, etc.) and by stakeholder group (students, teachers, school staff, parents, community members). The reports must be clear and actionable; they must be able to guide school improvement efforts.

It is also important to complement the school-level assessments with those done at a national level by specialized observatories. For instance, in Argentina an Observatory of School Violence exists, Observatorio Argentino de la Violencia en las Escuelas.

Define and implement the school climate interventions, determining the specific and broad strategies to be developed. Take into account those that have already been implemented and compare them with the needs identified through the data collection process.

In order to effectively improve school climate interventions, it is necessary to know the climate’s strengths and challenges. Ongoing monitoring of interventions is essential, as is used in Ontario, where school climate surveys are filled out by staff, students and parents at least every two years (Ontario, n.d.).)

Develop a communication plan and continuously communicate with stakeholders. Communication helps stakeholders understand the importance of school climate as well as their role in improving it.

The ‘School Climate Planning Team’ must define a strategic communication plan to disseminate information on the interventions. For instance, schools in the Akita Prefecture, Japan, display colourful and informative posters on the walls to raise awareness on various issues concerning school climate (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016), and in Canada and the United States of America parents and guardians receive communications in relation to the initiatives taken through newsletters (Pepler and Craig, 2014; United States of America, 2016).

Finally, prepare an annual report about the overall school climate improvement. This will allow stakeholders to decide whether to continue, modify or include more practices to the ongoing interventions.

References
Cohen, J.; Pickeral, T.; McCloskey, M. 2009. ‘The Challenge of Assessing School Climate’.  In: Educational Leadership. Vol. 66. No. 4. Alexandria: ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). Accessed 3 October 2018: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec08/vol66/num04/The-Challenge-of-Assessing-School-Climate.aspx

Faour, M. 2012. The Arab World’s Education Report Card: School Climate and Citizenship Skills. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved from: http://carnegieendowment.org/files/school_climate.pdf

Greytak, E.A.; Kosciw, J.G.; Villenas, C.; Giga, N.M. 2016. From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, A Survey of U.S. Secondary School Students and Teachers. New York: GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/TeasingtoTorment2015_ExecSumm%20FINAL.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. 2018d. Brief 3: The psycho-social school environment. Accessed 27 September 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/issue-briefs/improve-learning/schools-and-classrooms/the-psycho-social-school-environment

López, V. 2014. Education and Development Post-2015: School Climate. Notes Nº4. Santiago de Chile: OREALC-UNESCO (Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean). Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/FIELD/Santiago/pdf/APUNTE04-ING.pdf

Ontario. n.d. Creating Safe and Accepting Schools: Information for Parents about the Accepting Schools Act (Bill 13). Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teachers/climate.html

Pepler, D.; Craig, W. 2014. Bullying Prevention and Intervention in the School Environment: Factsheets and Tools. Kingston: PREVNet (Canada’s authority on research and resources for bullying prevention). Retrieved from: https://www.prevnet.ca/resources/bullying-prevention-facts-and-tools-for-schools

Salmon, A. 2015. What makes a School Happy? Perspectives from Six Schools. Accessed 28 September 2018: http://www.unescobkk.org/education/news/article/what-makes-a-school-happy-perspectives-from-six-schools/

UNESCO Bankok. 2016. Happy Schools! A Framework for Learner Well-being in the Asia-Pacific. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002441/244140e.pdf

UNESCO-IICBA (UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa). 2005. School Management: A Training Manual for Educational Management.  Addis Ababa: UNESCO-IICBA. Retrieved from: http://www.iicba.unesco.org/sites/default/files/School%20Management%20B.pdf

United States of America. 2016. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students. Quick guide on making school climate improvements. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students. Retrieved from : https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/sites/default/files/NCSSLE_SCIRP_QuickGuide508%20gdc.pdf

Interpersonal relationships shape school climate

School climate takes into account the relations between its members (students, teachers, school staff, family, community members). It is essential to create a sense of family within the school, where relationships between the school community members are characterised by respect, openness, and listening. Actions as simple as greetings and smiles can improve school relations and climate (Hough, 2015).

Building better teacher-student relationships is essential. Research shows that positive student and teacher relationships improves academic achievement, attendance and prevent dropout. Students develop positive relationships with teachers who listen to them, support them and treat them fairly. Investments in improving the quality of such interactions can be beneficial for all, and for vulnerable students in particular (IIEP-UNESCO, 2018). Indeed, an evaluation done in Chile found that ‘“the quality of teacher student interactions was “positively correlated with the performance of low-income students” (Bassi, Meghir, and Reynoso, 2016)’ (IIEP-UNESCO, 2018: 232-233).

Moreover, the school must enhance values such as kindness, enthusiasm, fairness, creativity, love, compassion, acceptance, and respect. Visual illustrations and ‘dual-purpose learning’ –highlighting values through academic subjects– could be used to enhance school climate (e.g. Happy Schools Project (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016)). At a national level, study the possibility of encompassing aspects such as personality, values and ethics, as well as listening and intercultural communication methods during teacher training (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016).

Building better relationships between students is also key. Create a sense of belonging within the school and foster good relationships between all the students including those from different ethnic/cultural groups, LGBTIQ students and those with disabilities. This can be done by motivating students to get involved in inclusive and cooperative extracurricular activities (sports, art, music, etc.) or in school events. Additionally, it is possible to foster students’ interaction through shared learning activities. For example, in Gachang Elementary School, the Republic of Korea, group learning activities and ‘ice breakers’ promote student collaboration (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016).) 

In addition, build better relationships within the school community. Parents and community members involved in the school should be actively sought, as is the case in Pemagatshel School in Bhutan, where the school organizes collective picnics to gather the school community together (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016).

*For more information on parental and community involvement consult Policy page Relationship between schools and their community.

References
Faour, M. 2012. The Arab World’s Education Report Card: School Climate and Citizenship Skills. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved from: http://carnegieendowment.org/files/school_climate.pdf

Greytak, E.A.; Kosciw, J.G.; Villenas, C.; Giga, N.M. 2016. From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, A Survey of U.S. Secondary School Students and Teachers. New York: GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/TeasingtoTorment2015_ExecSumm%20FINAL.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. 2018d. Brief 3: The psycho-social school environment. Accessed 27 September 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/issue-briefs/improve-learning/schools-and-classrooms/the-psycho-social-school-environment

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Learning at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Science, Measurement, and Policy in Low-Income Countries. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265581

López, V. 2014. Education and Development Post-2015: School Climate. Notes Nº4. Santiago de Chile: OREALC-UNESCO (Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean). Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/FIELD/Santiago/pdf/APUNTE04-ING.pdf

Ontario. n.d. Creating Safe and Accepting Schools: Information for Parents about the Accepting Schools Act (Bill 13). Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved from: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teachers/climate.html

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2013a. Pisa in Focus: What do students think about school? Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/pisainfocus/pisa%20in%20focus%20n24%20%28eng%29–FINAL.pdf

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2017a. Are students happy? PISA 2015 Results: Students’ Well-Being. Volume III. Pisa in Focus #71. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264267510-en

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2017b. Pisa 2015 Results (Volume III) : Students’ Well-Being. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from : http://www.oecd.org/pisa/PISA-2015-Results-Students-Well-being-Volume-III-Overview.pdf

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2018b. Teachers in Ibero-America: Insights from PISA and TALIS. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/Teachers-in-Ibero-America-Insights-from-PISA-and-TALIS.pdf

Pepler, D.; Craig, W. 2014. Bullying Prevention and Intervention in the School Environment: Factsheets and Tools. Kingston: PREVNet (Canada’s authority on research and resources for bullying prevention). Retrieved from: https://www.prevnet.ca/resources/bullying-prevention-facts-and-tools-for-schools

Teaching and learning policies which enhance school climate

Teaching –and overall, the entire education system–, should be designed to meet the needs of all pupils. Education systems must be able to sufficiently cater to every child, providing each one of them the opportunity to adequately learn. When children experience any learning difficulty, it is the responsibility of the system to respond and provide support, without isolating them from other students. Multiple strategies can be explored by planners and decision-makers in this sense, leading to a positive school climate.

Adopt inclusive education practices, which aim to ‘eliminate social exclusion resulting from attitudes and responses to diversity in race, social class, ethnicity, religion, gender and ability’ (UNESCO, 2008: 5). Inclusive education emphasizes the participation of all learners, and that every learner matters, and matters equally, and where differences between children and their learning capabilities are not seen as problems but rather opportunities that can benefit and enrich the education of all children (UNESCO, 2017a).

Provide supportive and productive classroom environments, where diversity is valued and open discussions are encouraged. A balance between teamwork and independent work is important to make pupils feel comfortable inside the classroom.

Civic knowledge and skills such as active listening, problem-solving, social responsibility and peaceful conflict resolution should be enhanced, as is the case in Colombia, where they integrated citizenship skills into its curriculum (Lopez, 2014).

Teach content that is useful, relevant and engaging. This is helpful in ensuring students’ motivation and purpose to learn while providing additional support to students who need it (for more details consult the section concerning Children with disabilities below).

Teachers should encourage students’ positive emotions towards learning –such as enjoyment and excitement– through interesting learning activities. It is important that teachers learn to understand and to deal with emotions experienced by students (Pekrun, 2014). In a positive school, students’ wellbeing must be a top priority, as done by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea, which launched a policy to improve students’ mental health (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016).

Value mistakes as part of the learning process. Teachers should subtly correct mistakes while focusing on what students did right. It is also recommended that teachers provide feedback on students’ learning improvements through performance assessments, like in Daegu Gachang Elementary School, Republic of Korea, where students are evaluated through performance assessments (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016).

* For more information on student assessments consult Policy page Student learning assessments.

Teachers should analyse the students’ capabilities and the time they need to complete assignments, keeping in mind a balance between homework and playing time (e.g. Vidyashilp Academy in India homework has been replaced by optional, meaningful and enjoyable activities (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016).) Additionally, school leaders must monitor the workload given to students, as overload can negatively affect students’ experience in school.

Teachers’ perception of school climate plays a critical role: school climate improves when teachers take proactive steps to help it progress. However, for this to happen, teachers must benefit from good working conditions (teachers’ payment, continuous professional development opportunities, among others are essential. *For more information on policies related to those topics see Policy pages Teacher benefits; Content knowledge; Teaching skills.)

The school’s physical infrastructure also plays a key role in improving school climate. A healthy physical environment, which is child-, disability- and gender-responsive as well as conducive to learning is essential (for more details consult the sections Gender and Children with disabilities below).

References
Ainsow, M. 2004. Special needs in the classroom: A teacher education guide. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/135116e.pdf

Centre for Excellence in Universal Design NDA (National Education Authority). 2014. What is Universal Design. Accessed 19 February 2019: http://universaldesign.ie/What-is-Universal-Design/

Faour, M. 2012. The Arab World’s Education Report Card: School Climate and Citizenship Skills. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved from: http://carnegieendowment.org/files/school_climate.pdf

Greytak, E.A.; Kosciw, J.G.; Villenas, C.; Giga, N.M. 2016. From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, A Survey of U.S. Secondary School Students and Teachers. New York: GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/TeasingtoTorment2015_ExecSumm%20FINAL.pdf

IBE-UNESCO (International Bureau of Education). 2017c. Training Tools for Curriculum Development: Personalized Learning. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0025/002500/ 250057e.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. 2018d. Brief 3: The psycho-social school environment. Accessed 27 September 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/issue-briefs/improve-learning/schools-and-classrooms/the-psycho-social-school-environment

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Learning at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Science, Measurement, and Policy in Low-Income Countries. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265581

Mariga, L.; McConkey, R.; Myezwa, H. 2014. Inclusive education in low-income countries: A resource book for teacher educators, parent trainers and community development workers. Cape Town: Atlas Alliance and Disability Innovations Africa. Retrieved from: http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/ docs/Inclusive_Education_in_Low_Income_Countries.pdf

Pekrun, R. 2014. ‘Emotions and Learning’. In: Educational Practices Series-24. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/en/document/emotions-and-learning-educational-practices-24

Rieser, R. 2012. Implementing inclusive education: A commonwealth guide to implementing article 24 of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. London: Commonwealth Secretariat. Retrieved from: http://www.globaldisabilityrightsnow.org/sites/default/files/related-files/346/Implementing_Inclusive_Education_Article_24_in_CRPD.pdf

Salmon, A. 2015. What makes a School Happy? Perspectives from Six Schools. Accessed 28 September 2018: http://www.unescobkk.org/education/news/article/what-makes-a-school-happy-perspectives-from-six-schools/

UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), DSPD (Division for Social Policy and Development). 2016. Toolkit on disability for Africa: Inclusive education. UNDESA, DSPD. Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/documents/disability/Toolkit/Inclusive-Education.pdf.

UNESCO Bangkok. 2016. Happy Schools! A Framework for Learner Well-being in the Asia-Pacific. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002441/244140e.pdf

UNESCO. 2005c. Guidelines for inclusion: Ensuring access to education for all. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001402/140224e.pdf

UNESCO. 2011a. Consultative expert meeting report: Accessible ICTs and personalized learning for students with disabilities: A Dialogue among educators, industry, government and civil society. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002198/219827e.pdf

UNESCO. 2015f. The right to education for persons with disabilities: Overview of the measures supporting the right to education for persons with disabilities reported on by member states. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002325/232592e.pdf

A safe and positive school climate

To enhance school climate, schools must foster a safe and secure environment in all their facilities. SDG 4 Target 4.a. calls governments to ‘provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all’ (United Nations Division for Sustainable Development Goals, 2015a). Safety includes prohibiting corporal punishment and preventing any physical injury or harm due to bullying, pushing, punching, beating, as well as preventing social and emotional violence, such as verbal abuse, harassment, and social exclusion.

General constructive disciplinary interventions, as well as specific anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies, can be applied in order to ensure a positive and safe school climate.

*For specific policy recommendations consult Policy page School-related violence

References
Chaux, E. n.d. Conflictos, bullying y violencia escolar: Estrategias de prevención y manejo. Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes. Accessed 11 October 2018: http://www.ijvs.org/files/E-Chaux-Prevencion-y-manejo-de-violencia-escolar.pdf

GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). n.d. Enumeration. New York: GLSEN. Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/Enumeration_0.pdf

GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). n.d. Model School Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy: Ensuring Safe and Effective Schools for All. New York: GLSEN. Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/Model%20Policy%20-%20School%204.12.13_0.pdf

GLSEN(Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). n.d. Model District Anti-Bullying & Harassment Policy: Model language, commentary & resources. New York: GLSEN. Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/Model%20District%20LGBTQ-Inclusive%20Anti-Bullying%20%26%20Harassment%20Policy.pdf

Hough, L. 2015. ‘Does It Have To Be So Complicated?’ In: Harvard ED Magazine. Summer 2015. Accessed 10 October 2018: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/ed/15/05/does-it-have-be-so-complicated.

López, V. 2014. Education and Development Post-2015: School Climate. Notes Nº4. Santiago de Chile: OREALC-UNESCO (Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean). Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/FIELD/Santiago/pdf/APUNTE04-ING.pdf

Ontario. n.d. Creating Safe and Accepting Schools: Information for Parents about the Accepting Schools Act (Bill 13). Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teachers/climate.html

Pepler, D.; Craig, W. 2014. Bullying Prevention and Intervention in the School Environment: Factsheets and Tools. Kingston: PREVNet (Canada’s authority on research and resources for bullying prevention). Retrieved from: https://www.prevnet.ca/resources/bullying-prevention-facts-and-tools-for-schools

UNESCO Bangkok. 2016. Happy Schools! A Framework for Learner Well-being in the Asia-Pacific. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002441/244140e.pdf

United States of America. 2016. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students. Quick guide on making school climate improvements. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students. Retrieved from : https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/sites/default/files/NCSSLE_SCIRP_QuickGuide508%20gdc.pdf

Universidad de los Andes. 2013. Aulas en Paz: Historia. Accessed 11 October 2018: https://aulasenpaz.uniandes.edu.co/index.php/com-docman-submenu-config/aulas-en-paz/historia

Faour, M. 2012. The Arab World’s Education Report Card: School Climate and Citizenship Skills. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved from: http://carnegieendowment.org/files/school_climate.pdf

UNESCO. 2014d. Teaching Respect For All. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002279/227983E.pdf

Saito, M. 2015. SACMEQ Gender Series Contribution: Assessing School Climate towards Sustainable Learning for All in Sub-Saharan Africa: Perspectives from Unstable Health to School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV). No. 6. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://hivhealthclearinghouse.unesco.org/sites/default/files/resources/assessing_school_climate_sacmeq_brief_6_ver3.pdf

United Nations Division for Sustainable Development Goals. 2015a. Sustainable Development Goal 4. Accessed 11 October 2018: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg4

Greytak, E.A.; Kosciw, J.G.; Villenas, C.; Giga, N.M. 2016. From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, A Survey of U.S. Secondary School Students and Teachers. New York: GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/TeasingtoTorment2015_ExecSumm%20FINAL.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. 2018d. Brief 3: The psycho-social school environment. Accessed 27 September 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/issue-briefs/improve-learning/schools-and-classrooms/the-psycho-social-school-environmen

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

Promising policy options

Gender mainstreaming

In order to make all of the previously recommended policy options gender-responsive, educational planners and decision-makers, as well as school stakeholders, must consider gender norms, roles, and relations throughout the process.

Ensure that the multiple measures are taken actively aim to reduce harmful effects such as gender-bias, stereotypes, and sexism within the school (GPE and UNGEI, 2017).

As part of the school’s climate policy, it is important to accept and encourage gender diversity (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016). For instance, raise awareness about LGTIQA+, provide a supportive and safe environment for them (Greytak et al., 2016).

It is also recommended to mainstream gender in policies aimed at providing a safe and nurturing environment for all. Indeed, preventing and responding to any school-related gender-based violence within schools is of utmost importance (for more information and specific policy options consult Gender section in Policy page School-related violence).

References
Greytak, E.A.; Kosciw, J.G.; Villenas, C.; Giga, N.M. 2016. From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, A Survey of U.S. Secondary School Students and Teachers. New York: GLSEN. Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/TeasingtoTorment2015_ExecSumm%20FINAL.pdf

UNESCO Bangkok. 2016. Happy Schools! A Framework for Learner Well-being in the Asia-Pacific. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002441/244140e.pdf

GPE (Global Partnership for Education), UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). 2017. Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans. Washington D.C.: The Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/guidance-developing-gender-responsive-education-sector-plans

Policies for children with disabilities

Promising policy options

Tackle down institutional barriers against the education of children with disabilities (broader institutional reforms)

Enhancing a school’s climate for children with disabilities goes hand-in-hand with a broader institutional reform aimed at developing equitable and inclusive education systems, which have an intrinsic commitment towards respect and value of diversity.

In order to build an inclusive and equitable education system, educational policy-makers must recognize that ‘students’ difficulties arise from aspects of the education system itself’ (UNESCO, 2017a: 13). Thus, it calls for the implementation of concrete reforms to tackle institutional barriers down. This can be done through appropriate and supportive legal and policy frameworks.

Regarding the legal framework, numerous conventions and declarations exist at the international level outlining the right for children with disabilities to be provided with quality regular education opportunities (e.g. Salamanca Statement and Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).).

Ratify and implement such conventions to ensure that the education laws are in congruence with them (UNICEF, 2014a). For example, Viet Nam, with the support of UNICEF, strengthened its legal framework to promote the rights of children with disabilities, and, in particular, two government circulars were issued concerning their education (UNICEF, 2014a).

As for policy framework, integrate the principles of equity and inclusion into the education policy (for specific details consult UNESCO, 2017a: 13). Address the question of the education of children with disabilities through the Education Sector Plans and policies. Through ESPs, governments can ensure that sufficient capacity, leadership, and resources are allocated to the establishment of inclusive education systems. Some policy examples are:

Tanzania’s Education Sector Development Plan (2008-2017): ‘wherever possible, all children with special educational needs should be educated in “normal” classes in “normal” schools: this inclusive approach necessitates teachers being appropriately trained together with “disability-friendly” school buildings and community awareness-raising as necessary’ (Tanzania, 2008: 20). Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, and Portugal also encourage inclusive education (UNESCO, 2015a).).

Guarantee that the curricula, learning materials, learning processes, and assessments, among many other aspects, are accessible to all children, including children with disabilities (UNICEF, 2014a). This is essential to ensure that children with disabilities are not only accessing the school but are also effectively participating and learning.

Keep in mind that although having an inclusive education system is the recommended goal, it is also a process. Accordingly, many countries in that process have hybrid policies in place –which may include special and integration strategies. As long as the general movement leads towards more inclusionary practices and is geared towards meeting all children’s needs, hybrid policies can be taken advantage of (UNESCO, 2015a). 

Provide clear legal and policy frameworks to tackle down discrimination against children/persons with disabilities and entitle them to protection (UNICEF, 2013).

References
Tanzania. 2008. Education Sector Development Programme 2008-2017, Revised Edition. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/sites/default/files/2008-01-Tanzania-Mainland-Sector-Plan.pdf

UN General Assembly. 2007. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities : resolution / adopted by the General Assembly. A/RES/61/106. Retrieved from: https://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf 

UNESCO-Global Education Monitoring Report. n.d. GEM Report summary on disabilities and education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sites/gem-report/files/GAW2014-Facts-Figures-gmr_0.pdf.pdf

UNESCO. 1994. The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Educational Needs. Salamanca: Ministry of Education and Science Spain and UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/SALAMA_E.PDF

UNESCO. 2015a. Education for All 2000-2015: Achievements and challenges. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232205e.pdf

UNESCO. 2017a. A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002482/248254e.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014a. Conceptualizing­ Inclusive Education and Contextualizing­ it within the UNICEF Mission: Webinar 1 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

Tackle down attitudinal barriers against children with disabilities

The provision of inclusive, equitable education requires much more than institutional reforms. Indeed, Inclusive education lies in the common vision that all children have the right and, thus should have the opportunity, to attend school, participate and learn. The school’s climate and social ethos should reflect such vision by enhancing positive relationships, valuing diversity, and providing a positive, safe and supportive environment for all children and school members, including persons with disabilities (WHO, 2011).  

Community mobilization and advocacy campaigns to foster a common vision on the importance of an inclusive education system that welcomes supports and caters to the needs of all children, including children with disabilities (UNICEF, 2014a).

Mobilizing positive attitudes and support from families, students, teachers, school leaders, and policy-makers is a key pillar to creating inclusive education systems (UNICEF, 2013).

Comprehend disability as a social challenge. The social perspective of disability understands it as the absence of opportunities for specific groups to develop their full potential and participate in society, rather than looking at disability as the ‘lacking’ of skills or abilities (Save the Children, 2002). For example, the Government of Montenegro launched in September 2010, with the support of UNICEF, the advocacy campaign ‘It’s About Ability’ to address social exclusion and discrimination against children with disabilities. After the campaign, the percentage of citizens who found it adequate for children with disabilities to attend mainstream schools raised from 35 percent in 2010 to 78 percent in 2015 (UNICEF, n.d.).

Use inclusive media to mobilize portrayals of children with disabilities, disseminate positive messages and thus tackle down stereotypes (UNICEF, 2013). An example of a successful campaign was done in Nepal, with the support of Save the Children UK, where stories of children with disabilities who accessed schools all over the country were publicised and helped raised awareness on their right to education (Save the Children, 2002).

Provide training opportunities on inclusive education to school personnel. The Ministry of Education should provide training opportunities to all school members, not only to improve knowledge related to disabilities but also to enhance positive attitudes and values towards them (WHO, 2011; Save the Children, 2002). In fact, multiple studies have revealed that positive attitudes towards children with disabilities are higher when the schools’ personnel has received training on inclusive education (UNICEF, 2014a; Milsom, 2016). Examples:

In India, ‘participation of pre-service teachers in a nine-week university course on inclusive education reduced their concerns about inclusion and improved their efficacy in, and attitude towards, inclusive classrooms’ (Sharma and Nuttal, 2016 cited by UNESCO New Delhi Office, 2019: 65). In another example, in Mongolia, 1600 teachers received training on inclusive education, which helped them build positive attitudes towards the inclusion of children with disabilities. Following that initiative, the percentage of enrolment of children with disabilities doubled (WHO, 2011).

Foster interpersonal relationships. Teacher’s and school staff must set an example of how to establish positive interpersonal relationships with students with disabilities (Milsom, 2006), fostering interpersonal relationships between children with and without disabilities. Students must be informed about each other’s abilities and difficulties since a lack of understanding may impede positive relations among students (UNESCO, 2014).

Through inclusive and accessible leisure activities, teachers can facilitate the interaction between children with and without disabilities, leading them to build quality relationships (UNESCO, 2014; Milsom, 2006). Studies reveal that students who have had a friend or classmate with disabilities have more positive attitudes towards disabilities (McDougall et al., 2004, cited by Milsom, 2006).  

References
IIEP-UNESCO. 2019. Technical Round Table: Inclusion of children with disabilities in education sector planning in French-speaking Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. [Unpublished document]. 

Milsom, A. 2006. ‘Creating Positive School Experiences for Students with Disabilities’. In: Professional School Counseling Journal, 10(1), 66-72. Retrieved from: https://www.readingrockets.org/article/creating-positive-school-experiences-students-disabilities

Milsom, A. 2006. ‘Creating Positive School Experiences for Students with Disabilities’. In: Professional School Counseling Journal, 10(1), 66-72. Retrieved from: https://www.readingrockets.org/article/creating-positive-school-experiences-students-disabilities

Save the Children. 2002. Schools for All: Including disabled children in education. London: Save the Children. Retrieved from: http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/schools_for_all.pdf

UNESCO New Delhi Office. 2019. N for Nose: State of the Education Report for India 2019 Children with Disabilities. New Delhi: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000368780?posInSet=29&queryId=2f8aaaf5-3719-4fde-b471-321a56f7f8b9

UNESCO New Delhi Office. 2019. N for Nose: State of the Education Report for India 2019 Children with Disabilities. New Delhi: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000368780?posInSet=29&queryId=2f8aaaf5-3719-4fde-b471-321a56f7f8b9

UNESCO. 2014. Teaching Respect for All. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000227983?posInSet=14&queryId=22b2a46b-56be-4c43-af7f-d33a4b018b99

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities – Executive Summary. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014a. Conceptualizing­ Inclusive Education and Contextualizing­ it within the UNICEF Mission: Webinar 1 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

UNICEF. n.d. It’s about ability (implemented in 2010-2013). Accessed 23 August 2019: https://www.unicef.org/montenegro/en/its-about-ability-implemented-2010-2013

WHO (World Health Organization). 2011. ‘Chapter 7 Education’. In: World Report on Disability (pp. 203-232). Malta: WHO. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report.pdf.

Inclusive teaching and learning

Inclusive education emphasizes that every learner matters, and matters equally. Differences between children and their learning capabilities are not seen as problems but rather as opportunities that can benefit and enrich the education of all children (UNESCO, 2017a).

In order to build equitable, inclusive and accessible schools where children with disabilities feel welcomed, valued and supported, special attention should be geared towards the teaching and learning process. Even though all of the policy recommendations in the general section of the present Policy page apply, the following strategies are particularly important when it comes to the teaching and learning process regarding pupils with disabilities:

  • Teachers should observe the student’s emotional well-being and promote a culture of support in the classroom (Save the Children, 2016; IBE-UNESCO, 2016). This is important for all students, but particularly for those with emotional or behavioural disabilities (Inclusive Schools Network, 2015).
  • Teachers should have a positive attitude towards students with disabilities as well as the same kind of expectations for all (IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal, 2018c; Milsom, 2006).
  • Teachers must foster constructive interactions among learners. This could be done by enhancing cooperative learning groups, cooperative problem solving and leisure activities (UNESCO Bangkok, 2016; Milsom, 2006).
  • Teachers and students should have adequate knowledge and skills to respond to any attitude or commentary meaning to label, stereotype or bully children with disabilities (Save the Children, 2016).
  • Teachers and schools should provide additional support to students who need it. Some strategies are employing a wide range of teaching techniques, addressing common learning difficulties, designing an accessible and flexible curriculum, as well as Individual Education Plans or personalized learning strategies, creating support centres, and provide additional staff to support students with specific learning needs.

*For specific details about each strategy, consult the following Policy pages Classroom practices; Teaching skills; Content knowledge; Inadequate curriculum and Individual learning needs.

  • Provide accessible and inclusive teaching and learning materials in Braille, audio, large-print and digital text.

*For more information consult Policy pages Availability and content of textbooks; and Teacher guides and lesson plans.

  • Provide technology and assistive devices to support student’s learning, and make education more accessible for all students, especially learners with disabilities. Some tools may include computers, smartphones, gaming systems, assistive technologies (hearing aids, adaptive keyboard, screen readers, etc.), accessible media and formats (DAISY- Digital Accessible Information System), learning software, e-books. Additionally, special education centres can help in providing assistive devices for special needs learners.

*For more information about these policies consult Policy page Availability of teaching aids.  

  • The school’s physical infrastructure also plays a key role in improving school climate. A healthy physical environment, which is child-, disability- and gender-responsive as well as conducive to learning is essential. It is therefore necessary to conceive facilities regarding pupil’s size and physical abilities. Implementing the concept of Universal Design, allows the school’s ‘environment to be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability’ (Centre for Excellence in Universal Design NDA, 2014:1). For example, ensure access to schools for children with disabilities (e.g. build ramps). It is also important to have firm, durable, smooth and slip-resistant floor surfaces, wide doorways and adequate corridor space for children in wheelchairs, adapted toilets, and accessible outdoor spaces. In addition, whenever possible, construct clear signage for partially sighted children, and tactile floors for blind children.

*For more information about this specific topic consult Policy page School physical infrastructure.

References
European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. 2017. Inclusive education for learners with disabilities. Study for the Peti committee. Brussels: European Union. Retrieved from: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/596807/IPOL_STU(2017)596807_EN.pdf

Grant Lewis, S. 2019. ‘Opinion: The urgent need to plan for disability-inclusive education’. Devex. 6 February 2019. Accessed 4 November 2019: https://www.devex.com/news/opinion-the-urgent-need-to-plan-for-disability-inclusive-education-94059

Humanity & Inclusion. 2015. Education for all? This is still not a reality for most children with disabilities. Retrieved from: https://hi.org/sn_uploads/document/Education-pour-tous_un-mythe-pour-la-plupart-des-enfants-handicapes_en_1.pdf

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2016.Training Tools for Curriculum Development – Reaching Out to All Learners: a Resource Pack for Supporting Inclusive Education. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243279?posInSet=26&queryId=583170d7-cb0d-430f-bc8e-c0ced5165649

IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. 2018c. Brief 3: Effective and appropriate pedagogy. Accessed 1 April 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/issue-briefs/improve-learning/teachers-and-pedagogy/effective-and-appropriate-pedagogy

Inclusive Schools Network. 2015. Together We Learn Better: Inclusive Schools Benefit All Children. Accessed 23 August 2019: https://inclusiveschools.org/together-we-learn-better-inclusive-schools-benefit-all-children/

Milsom, A. 2006. ‘Creating Positive School Experiences for Students with Disabilities’. In: Professional School Counseling Journal, 10(1), 66-72. Retrieved from: https://www.readingrockets.org/article/creating-positive-school-experiences-students-disabilities

Save the Children. 2016. Inclusive Education: What, Why, and How – A Handbook for Program Implementers.  London: Save the Children. Retrieved from: https://www.savethechildren.it/sites/default/files/files/uploads/pubblicazioni/inclusive-education-what-why-and-how.pdf

UNESCO. 2017a. A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002482/248254e.pdf

A safe and positive school climate

Research shows that children with disabilities are highly vulnerable to many forms of violence. Fear of bullying and violence is also highly prevalent among them. The World Health Organization highlights that ‘Children with disabilities may prefer to attend special schools, because of the fear of stigma or bullying in mainstream schools’ (WHO, 2011: 216).

In order for children with disabilities to access and actively participate and learn in schools, it is essential to provide a safe school climate where all children, including children with disabilities, are welcomed and where specific school-based interventions, supported by national-level policies, address school-related violence and bullying against children with disabilities (Devries et al., 2014; Banks et al., 2017).

*For specific policy recommendations consult Policy page School-related violence

References
Banks, L.M.; Kelly, S.A.; Kyegombe, N.; Kuper, H.; Devries, K. 2017. ‘“If he could speak, he would be able to point out who does those things to him”: Experiences of violence and access to child protection among children with disabilities in Uganda and Malawi’. In: PLoS ONE, 12(9). Retrieved from:  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0183736

Devries, K. M.; Kyegombe, N.; Zuurmond, M.; Parkes, J.; Child, J.C.; Walakira, E.J.; Naker, D. 2014. ‘Violence against primary school children with disabilities in Uganda: a cross-sectional study’. In: BMC Public Health, No. 14, p. 1017. Retrieved from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/14/1017

WHO (World Health Organization). 2011. ‘Chapter 7 Education’. In: World Report on Disability (pp. 203-232). Malta: WHO. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report.pdf.

Policies for displaced populations and host communities

Promising policy options

If the school climate is not inclusive and wholesome, it increases absenteeism for both the students and the teachers. In order to improve the school climate for displaced population children, all the policies recommended in the general section apply.

Additionally, for better representation of the displaced population in the host communities include a culturally inclusive environment within the school.

Other policy options

The appropriate response to discriminatory incidents and use well-defined procedures to eliminate discrimination

It is important to ensure that teachers understand the importance of discrimination and recognise the damaging effects it has on students including their academic achievement.

Ensuring all staff receive training in recognising and responding constructively to discrimination. Elect/hire a representative who is responsible for reporting all incidents to the concerned authorities, and ientify and address behaviour patterns that may not appear explicitly discriminatory, but where it is in fact a significant factor e.g. social exclusion. 

Monitoring and evaluating the integration of students

The Local Authorities should monitor and evaluates the effectiveness and the level of integration of the students. The evaluation can be done in multiple ways, such as school self-evaluation, curriculum evaluation on how inclusive it is, multi-level collaboration-based evaluation. For example, in the UK, the Local Authority monitors and evaluates the effectiveness of support from central staff for under-represented students. This is carried out both by tracking the progress of students and by evaluating the quality of additional support for schools.

Methods which would assist in proper evaluation includes:

  • teacher assessments of targeted students;
  • classroom observations, line management meetings, and annual performance, review, and development discussions;
  • feedback from schools on the quality of support provided by Local Authority staff; and
  • teacher training evaluations.
References
Osher, D. Berg, J. 2017. School Climate and Social and Emotional Learning: The Integration of Two Approaches. Edna Bennet Pierce Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved from : http://prevention.psu.edu/uploads/files/rwjf443059.pdf

Inclusive Schools Network. 2015. Together We Learn Better: Inclusive Schools Benefit All Children. Accessed 15 September 2019: https://inclusiveschools.org/together-we-learn-better-inclusive-schools-benefit-all-children/

Save the Children. 2016. Inclusive Education: What, Why, and How – A Handbook for Program Implementers.  London: Save the Children. Retrieved from: https://www.savethechildren.it/sites/default/files/files/uploads/pubblicazioni/inclusive-education-what-why-and-how.pdf

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2016.Training Tools for Curriculum Development – Reaching Out to All Learners: a Resource Pack for Supporting Inclusive Education. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243279?posInSet=26&queryId=583170d7-cb0d-430f-bc8e-c0ced5165649

Osher, D., Kidron, Y., DeCandia, C. J., Kendziora, K., & Weissberg, R. 2015. Interventions to promote safe and supportive school climate. New York, NY: Taylor Francis. Retrieved from: https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/doi/10.4324/9781315769929.ch24

Policies for minority populations

Promising policy options

In order to improve the school climate for minority population, all the policies recommended in the general section apply.

Provide a safe and inclusive environment which enables learners from minority ethnic groups to flourish.

Ensure that verbal abuse or negative comments are tackled, even when they may appear minor. Develop or purchase inclusive resources that reflect the diversity of the school and the community.

The curriculum and textbook materials should value the students varying cultural backgrounds and linguistic nature. Acknowledge the different religious beliefs, customs, and practices, and develop a more participative classroom through teaching strategies.

Improve multi-level assessment techniques to make it more inclusive and interactive

A measurement criterion should be put in place to assess the favourability of the school climate, by surveying all members of the school community (i.e. the students, teachers, administrators, additional staff, parents and community members). The developed measuring criteria should be equipped to assess all school climate components, such as school relationships, norms, and goals, the involvement of all school actors and the level of collaboration.

Assessment should be categorised in a manner which shows inclusivity in the relationship shared between students, teachers, student-teacher, teacher-parents, parents-school.

Forming an independent school climate team at the national, regional and local levels will benefit schools to compare and contrast how different schools improve their climate to make it more inclusive for minority populations. (Allison Ann Payne 2018). The responsibilities of this organisation should be:

  • foster participation in professional development opportunities to learn about school climate research and best practices;
  • evaluation of state, district, and school policies in light of this research and their own school’s goals; and
  • regular assessment of the current school climate through surveys of all members of the school community.

The implementation of school climate improvement efforts at both the district and school levels are incorporated into every facet of the school’s function — curricular choices, extracurricular activities, rules and policies, and the school’s goals and mission — and include every member of the school community.

Special attention is to be paid to students from minority backgrounds. The school community’s practices should be identified, prioritized, and supported to promote learning and positive social, emotional, ethical, and civic development of all the students, with a special focus being put on integrating minority students. This can be done in the following manner (Payne, A.A. 2018):

  • enhancing the engagement of minority students in teaching, learning, and schoolwide activities;
  • addressing the barriers faced by the minority students to learning and teaching and to re-engage those who have become disengaged; and
  • developing and sustain an appropriate operational infrastructure and capacity-building mechanisms for meeting this standard.

Respond effectively to racist incidents and use agreed on procedures to ensure that all incidents are reported to the Local Authority. Ensure that teachers understand the importance of challenging racism and recognise the damaging effects it has on students including their academic achievement

Ensure that all staff receives training in recognising and responding constructively to racist incidents and that one named person is responsible for reporting all incidents to the Local Authority. Identify and address behaviour patterns that may not appear overtly racist, but where racism is, in fact, a significant factor (e.g. social exclusion), and request support from Local Authority staff wherever appropriate.

Make sure schools get involved in eradicating discrimination. The provision within schools to meet the needs of students from minority ethnic groups should be a part of the inclusion agenda of the school, such as:

  • produce, implement and monitor a Race Equality Policy and accompanying action plan;
  • respond effectively to racist incidents and use agreed with procedures to ensure that all incidents are reported to the concerned authority;
  • ensure that the needs of students are reflected in the school improvement plan and that a named senior manager has overall responsibility for work to raise minority ethnic achievement;
  • provide a safe environment that enables learners from minority ethnic groups to flourish and develop an ethos in which diversity is respected and valued;
  • identify learners from minority ethnic groups and set challenging targets for their achievement;
  • make effective use of data, identifying groups and individuals at risk of underachievement and developing appropriate strategies in response;
  • put in place appropriate programmes of professional development for staff;
  • monitor each minority student’s progress and evaluate rigorously the effectiveness of the strategies put in place; and
  • work in partnership with parents and minority ethnic communities to support and extend pupils’ learning.
References
López, V. 2014. Education and Development Post-2015: School Climate. Notes Nº4. Santiago de Chile: OREALC-UNESCO (Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean). Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/FIELD/Santiago/pdf/APUNTE04-ING.pdf

Ontario. n.d. Creating Safe and Accepting Schools: Information for Parents about the Accepting Schools Act (Bill 13). Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teachers/climate.html

Pepler, D.; Craig, W. 2014. Bullying Prevention and Intervention in the School Environment: Factsheets and Tools. Kingston: PREVNet (Canada’s authority on research and resources for bullying prevention). Retrieved from: https://www.prevnet.ca/resources/bullying-prevention-facts-and-tools-for-schools

Saito, M. 2015. SACMEQ Gender Series Contribution: Assessing School Climate towards Sustainable Learning for All in Sub-Saharan Africa: Perspectives from Unstable Health to School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV). No. 6. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://hivhealthclearinghouse.unesco.org/sites/default/files/resources/assessing_school_climate_sacmeq_brief_6_ver3.pdf

Allison Ann Payne. 2018. Creating and Sustaining a Positive and Communal School Climate: Contemporary Research, Present Obstacles, and Future Directions. National Institute of Justice. Retrieved from: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/250209.pdf

Faour, M. 2012. The Arab World’s Education Report Card: School Climate and Citizenship Skills. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved from: http://carnegieendowment.org/files/school_climate.pdf

Updated on 2021-06-16

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