The increasingly complex world of inclusion

March 24, 2017
Joni Turville

Alberta teachers have been consistently and insistently describing the conditions of inclusion as being one of their biggest areas of concern. Responding to this concern, the ATA spearheaded the creation of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Inclusive Education in Alberta Schools, in collaboration with the University of Alberta.

The panel conducted a study focused on better understanding the current state of inclusion in Alberta schools and among its key findings was the assessment that classrooms are large, increasingly complex ­communities.

Inclusion is …

… meeting the diverse learning needs of all ­students

… making differences ordinary so all students have a place, feel valued and welcomed, and equipped for success

… seeing the strengths and gifts of every ­person as a valued member of the community


Teachers participating in the study frequently ­described the increasing size and complexity of Alberta classrooms. The number of children with whom teachers worked varied, but the classroom size and the level and diversity of ­student needs clearly affect the extent to which teachers can attend to each student’s needs.

It’s complicated

Complexity in school classrooms has increased ­dramatically over the last number of years, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that there are more students with exceptional needs in classrooms than ever before.

Report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Inclusive ­Education in Alberta Schools 


The study results emphasize that classroom size and composition constitute a major factor in the capacity of schools to implement inclusion in a way that supports all learners.

The overall conclusion of the study was that positive possibilities for inclusion exist, but shared vision, leadership, research and evidence, resources, teacher professional growth, time and community ­engagement are necessary to facilitating effective implementation.

Joni Turville is an executive staff officer with the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

A version of this article was originally published in the July 2016 issue of Inside Inclusion, a newsletter produced by the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Council for Inclusive Education.