The Gap Between the Rhetoric and the Reality of Inclusion Policy: The Theoretical Framework and Challenges of Effective Implementation at one Private American School in Dubai - A Case Study

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
With the slogan ‘School for All’ the UAE’s Ministry of Education (MoE) formally introduced guidelines for the delivery of special advanced education and services in May 2010, enabling equal access to education for all students regardless of their abilities. The UAE has ratified and signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (UN 2008); this initiative is the first concrete step taken by the MoE to implement federal law 29/2006 concerning the rights of individuals with disabilities and equal access to education. This research aims to study how one private American school in Dubai is implementing the Dubai inclusive framework of policies and guidelines that have been made available through the School for All initiative. More importantly, the study presents a comprehensive and well-contextualised image of the implementation from the viewpoints of the many stakeholders. The study opted for a qualitative research approach and a one-case study methodology (inclusive of team members, principals, and teachers). Semi-structured interviews, participant observations, and a review of students’ work were used to obtain qualitative data. The school data was recorded in a context-situated case study format to gain a better understanding of what the implementation of inclusive education looked like in one private school after the School for All initiative was put into place. Moreover, to provide a higher level of support for individuals with disabilities, the School for All programme is working to bring about a paradigm change towards inclusive education. This research investigates the methods by which inclusive policies and practices have been developed at the case study school as a direct result of the requirements that have been put into place, and how those requirements have assisted the case study school in moving towards a more inclusive culture.   Additionally, it generates concerns that are relevant to inclusion from the viewpoints of the stakeholders. These viewpoints are critical in gauging the gaps in implementation and the discontent that is generated subsequently. The study does this by drawing on the “Index for Inclusion” that Booth and Ainscow (2011) developed to investigate the obstacles and resources that stand in the way of learning and participation, through focusing on three aspects of a school: cultures, policies, and practices. This index was deliberately selected because it offers a framework that is both flexible and adaptive and one that can be used for both the development and evaluation of inclusive schools.
inclusion policy, United Arab Emirates (UAE), inclusive education, inclusive schools