New guidelines to promote inclusion in Dubai schools

Tailored-plans that suit pupils with special needs and a tight rein on fee increases are outlined in the new handbook

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New guidelines that protect the rights of children with disabilities and promotes their inclusion in mainstream schools have been released by Dubai’s private school regulator.

The handbook, issued by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority on Sunday, aims to protect pupils with disabilities from extra charges levied against them by schools for potentially needing extra support. It also provides wider information about the legal responsibilities of a school towards pupils with disabilities.

“Students of determination are at the heart of our inclusive education policies,” said Fatma Belrehif, chief executive of Dubai School Inspection Bureau at KHDA and chairperson of the Dubai inclusive education strategic task force.

“We share a responsibility to remove all barriers to learning and work towards an inclusive education community that offers equal opportunities for everyone.”

The handbook Directives and Guidelines for Inclusive Education is intended for private schools and governing boards.

It is also a good resource for teachers and parents so they are aware of the initiatives undertaken to include children with disabilities.

A separate dedicated guide detailing the rights of parents of children with disabilities will be released later this year. The proposed guide will explain what parents can expect from schools and how to ensure the appropriate level of education is being delivered.

Ms Belrehif said conversations with parents had made them aware of the challenges faced by pupils with disabilities the new recommendations hope to fill those gaps.

Some of the key new rules include informing the KHDA if a school denies admission to a pupil with disabilities.

Clearance is now required from the regulator to justify any additional fees charged to parents to fund education of pupils with disabilities.

Schools will need to specify with clear documentation that the extra fees are for experienced specialists or trained therapists with the specific license, qualifications that will meet the needs of the pupil with special needs.

The regulator has said it would conduct regular checks in schools to ensure the rules were being upheld.

Under the handbook, pupils who face significant barriers to learning are entitled to individualised plans that take into consideration their specific condition. These plans should be created in collaboration with the pupil, parents, teachers and implemented within six weeks of a pupil’s admission.

The goal is to provide access to education and reduce the obstacles to learning for children with disabilities.

The new guidelines build on the standards set out in 2017 for inclusive education in the emirate and is part of the wider ambition of Dubai to be a disability friendly city.

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