Inclusive literacy practice enables all children to access educational opportunities

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Literacy instruction offered to children with developmental disabilities is often inadequate. It’s a problem that can be compounded because of the lower educational outcomes some educators and parents hold for these children – and the result is limited access to vital resources and positive learning opportunities.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, and to make a sustainable difference, schools can have a valuable impact.

“Inclusive literacy practices in schools ensure that all children are given opportunities to learn which affects a variety of life outcomes including academic, vocational, social, and health outcomes,” said Professor Joanne Arciuli from Flinders Caring Futures Institute.

As a member of the Caring Future Institute’s Healthy Start to Life area, Professor Arciuli leads a research program focused on child development and disability, with specialised interests in cognition, communication, and well-being.

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The professor recently secured grant funding from Channel 7’s Children’s Research Foundation and the Australian Research Council, to take the lead investigator role across a range of ongoing projects in the field.

Professor Arciuli recently returned from accepting an invitation to Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom (UK), where she spent one month as a visiting scholar.

Innovation around inclusive literacy practice

Spending time with long-time colleague Professor Clare Wood and her team at the prestigious Centre for Research in Language, Education and Developmental Inequities (CLEDI) there was the key purpose.

Having known each other for several years through involvement with the international Society for Scientific Studies of Reading, Professor Arciuli said that “by joining forces, we can increase internationalisation activities at our respective universities with a view to making global impact on inclusive literacy practice in partnership with policy makers, clinicians, educators, parents, and of course children”.

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In collaboration with Professor Wood and their co-authors, Professor Arciuli is writing a paper that offers guidance for policy around inclusive literacy instruction. The paper’s purpose is to showcase a framework that supports educators, policymakers, and stakeholders in creating environments that enables every child to thrive academically.

During her visit to the UK, Professor Arciuli presented her research to local school educators at a CLEDI stakeholder meeting. The findings of her research into co-design practices – a project the Caring Futures Institute funded – were also shared.

The CLEDI team invited Professor Arciuli to preview CoNavigator – a new tool for co-design and interdisciplinary collaboration.

“This new tool is unlike any other I’ve used previously,” she said.

As the issue of inclusive education continues to be discussed in new detail in an effort to help ensure everyone has access to quality education, the tool may be a game-changer.

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“It is not just about distilling ideas into a single consensus view. It allows for far more complex and inclusive idea generation and planning than other tools.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]