Learning is promoted when the needs of all learners are met and all learners are included.

  • How do you connect to the needs of all learners?
  • How do you ensure that all learners feel engaged?
  • How do you ensure a safe learning environment for all learners?
  • How do you ensure that all learners feel included?
  • How do you differentiate between learners with different needs?
  • How do you deal with differences and similarities between learners?
  • How do you harness both the diversity and similarities within and group of learners to enhance learning?

What does it mean and why is it important?

‘Diversity is being invited to he party; inclusion is being asked to dance.’ (Verna Myers, 2015)

In all educational contexts, we deal with diversity. This is not just about learners’ ability to cope with learning in a particular way, nor just ethnic cultural origin or the presence of mental or physical disabilities. There is diversity within diversity, where differences between individuals overlap and interact: cultures, languages, religions, socio-economic positions, gender, sexual orientation, age, cognition, and countless other characteristics that come together and ensure that everyone both belongs to certain groups and is also a unique individual. Inclusive teaching is education that pays attention to both the differences and similarities between learners, with the aim of ensuring that all learners have the best possible opportunity to learn.

Inclusive teaching involves taking into account the needs of all learners, not only those related to learning, but also the need to belong to the group and to be able to be oneself. In order to teach inclusively, it is important that teachers have expertise in differentiation, linguistic diversity, relationship school and neighbourhood, parent involvement, social cohesion and identity, among others (Severiens et al., 2014).

Banks (2004) drew up a model for multicultural education, which is well applicable to inclusive education as described above. Banks’ five focal points are listed below, along with some sample questions for teachers.

Focus points (Banks, 2004)
Sample questions for teachers
Adding teaching content
Using examples and content from different groups to explain and illustrate core concepts, principles and theories.
– How can we enrich the teaching content?

– Can perspectives from other groups be highlighted?

Attention to knowledge construction
Help students understand, explore and identify how implicit (cultural) assumptions, frames of reference, perspectives and blind spots within a subject area/domain affect and how knowledge is constructed there.
– What examples do we use?

– Does the canon of the Netherlands consider the possible perceptions of other population groups that used to trade with the Netherlands?

Reducing prejudice
In reducing prejudice, the focus is on the characteristics of pupils’ attitudes and how these can be changed through teaching methods, forms of work and materials.
– Do the pictures in teaching methods reflect the diversity in society?

– Do the textbooks depict women or girls in professions such as doctor, scientist or professor?

Pedagogy of equal opportunities
Adapt teaching in a way that encourages the school performance of diverse students. For example, consider using different teaching styles, techniques, methods and forms of work.
– Do you respond to different perspectives of pupils?

– Do you allow pupils with different perspectives to work together?

Strengthen school culture and social structure
Aim to create a school context in which power and resources are shared with various stakeholders and across social groups in order to promote the development of all children.   
– Are all parents involved in the school?

– Is the plus programme freely accessible or does this require an additional parental contribution?

Practical implications

Scholarly publications

Contact person for this principle
Nadira Saab