Teacher Background Information

What Is the “Everyone Everyday” Inclusion Program?

The Everyone Everyday inclusion program has been developed to promote awareness about people with disability and their capabilities and contributions, and to foster respect for their rights and dignity. The program supports strategies that aim to create a cultural shift in thinking about disability by positively influencing attitudes and behaviours within the community.

The target group is the next generation of decision makers – school students – who will be our future community leaders, employers, service providers, business owners, advocates, policy makers, teachers, colleagues, neighbours and friends.

The aim of the program is to equip students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to take personal and collective action to enhance the inclusion of people with disability, especially children, in everyday life. The resource includes units of work that build on current work programs to support the requirements of the Australian Curriculum.

Why Would I Use this Resource?

Current educational reform is shifting towards implementing strategies that aim to reverse the disability disadvantage in education (see Gonski Report 2011). It is essential to recognise the extent of discrimination and exclusion that is a regular part of the experience for children and adults with disability. Around 63%* of school children with disabilities experienced difficulty at school. Intellectual/learning difficulties, fitting in socially and communication difficulties were the most common. (*Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Bulletin July 2006: Disability update: Children with disabilities)

This has significant implications on teaching and learning practice. Inclusive classrooms have better outcomes for all students – those with and those without a disability. A cultural shift in attitudes is paramount to create opportunities for all students to reach their potential. For more information on inclusive education, see the issues paper by Dr Kathy Cologon titled ‘Inclusion in education: towards equality for students with disability’.

Current statistics cited by Children with Disabilities Australia (‘Listen Up’ May publication 2015) indicate that 90% of children with disability now attend mainstream schools, with 65.9% attending regular classes and 24.3% attending special classes within the school. However, teachers report a lack of confidence to include students with disability effectively in their classrooms. (Dr Kathy Cologon. 2013). The Everyone Everyday program provides the tools teachers need to create positive learning environments where all children are recognised for their abilities and valued for their contributions.

The need for a cultural shift in the way society thinks about disability is the foundation of the Everyone Everyday program. The program looks at disability through a positive lens, changing attitudes so the focus is on what people can do. This asset based approach recognises that everyone, disability or not, has the right to be given opportunities to be a valued and welcome member of their community.

The program gives teachers the tools to facilitate learning around inclusion, particularly relating to people with disability. There is a strong focus on taking action to make a real difference, with opportunities for students to put ideas into practice.

The resource also aligns with other key policies and practices including:

  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. It takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as "objects" of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as "subjects" with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.
  • The Disability Standards for Education 2005 clarify the rights of students with disability to access and participate in education and training, and give education providers more guidance on how they can meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The introduction of the Standards was also intended to raise public awareness of the barriers frequently encountered by people with disability in the area of education.
  • The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers that outline elements of high quality teaching. The Standards define the work of teachers and make explicit the elements of high-quality, effective teaching in 21st-century schools, which result in improved educational outcomes for students.
  • The KidsMatter Australian Primary Schools Mental Health Framework, which is a flexible, whole school approach to children’s mental health and wellbeing for primary schools. The KidsMatter program has four components – 1. Positive School Community, 2. Social and Emotional Learning, 3. Working with parents and carers, and 4. Helping children with mental health difficulties.

How Can I Use this Resource? How Does It Fit into Current Programs?

The Everyone Everyday program can be used in many ways and aligns well with current educational planning documents including the Australian Curriculum and the International Baccalaureate (IB).

Some examples of how the Everyone Everyday program can be used follow.

  • To support the requirements of the Australian Curriculum. Links are made to the subject areas of Health and Physical Education and Civics and Citizenship. Links are also made to the General Capabilities, particularly Ethical Understanding, and Personal and social capability.
  • As a social and emotional learning program that supports the requirements of the KidsMatter framework.
  • To establish or reinforce school values that emphasise concepts of inclusion, respect, valuing and celebrating difference, focusing on ability, and respecting diversity.
  • As a part of a pastoral care program to create an inclusive classroom culture
  • To provide the theme for an Integrated Unit (e.g. Creating Inclusive Communities)
  • To be adapted to support the requirements of the IB Primary Years Program that focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer. Topics for units of inquiry can centre on the benefits of living in an inclusive community and upper primary students can investigate this at a local, national, and global level.
  • As a lead up to days of significance. For example, “I” Day – International Day of People with Disability – 3 December.

What Is the Time Commitment?

The program is divided into units of work targeting 4 different cohorts.

  • Foundation year (Kindergarten) – 5 lessons.
  • Years 1 and 2 – 9 lessons.
  • Years 3 and 4 – 13 lessons.
  • Years 5 and 6 – 11 lessons.

Most lessons take between 45 and 60 minutes to deliver, however, extra time is required to view audio visual materials. There are also additional activities for some of the lessons that would require more class time.

Delivery of the program is flexible and can be organised to suit the individual class or school needs (i.e. deliver over one term or a semester with key concepts revisited throughout the year).

How do I Implement the Resource?

Ideally, the program is intended to be cyclical (i.e. whole of school approach), however it can also be used as stand alone units of work (i.e. cohorts can participate in the program at any stage – it is not a pre–requisite that they have participated in the program in earlier years). However, the lessons within each cohort’s unit of work are sequential and should not be delivered out of order (each lesson builds on work covered in previous lessons).

The Everyone Everyday resource includes learning activities that are designed to develop positive attitudes and core values in the school community relating to including people with disability in daily activities and respecting diversity. Students will participate in learning experiences that develop knowledge and understanding in key theme areas.

The lesson plans provide an example of learning activities that support the learning outcomes identified in the lessons.

Lesson plans identify:

  • Links to the Australian Curriculum,
  • Resource requirements,
  • Prior learning requirements,
  • Key concepts,
  • Learning outcomes,
  • Learning activities, and
  • Assessable moments.

Teacher’s support notes are embedded within each lesson to give teachers on the spot information that will help direct thinking and develop teacher confidence.

Teachers are strongly encouraged to work collaboratively to implement the program. This includes sharing ideas, practices, resources and strategies.

What Should I Be Familiar with Before I Implement the Program?

Introductory Information

Before implementation, teachers should be familiar with the introductory information for the cohort they are teaching. This contains specific information about the unit of work, including the key messages and learning outcomes for the unit. This information should be read in conjunction with these teacher support notes.

Describing Disability in the Everyone Everyday Program

It is important to understand the different ways disability is viewed in society. There are many models that have been used to describe disability. The two main models described here are the medical model and the social model.

The Medical Model of Disability:

The medical model is presented as viewing disability as a problem of the person, directly caused by disease, trauma, or other health condition which therefore requires sustained medical care provided in the form of individual treatment by professionals. In the medical model, management of the disability is aimed at a "cure," or the individual’s adjustment and behavioural change that would lead to an "almost–cure" or effective cure. In the medical model, medical care is viewed as the main issue, and at the political level, the principal response is that of modifying or reforming healthcare policy.
Source: Definitions of the Models of Disability

The Social Model of Disability:

The social model of disability sees the issue of "disability" as a socially created problem and a matter of the full integration of individuals into society. In this model, disability is not an attribute of an individual, but rather a complex collection of conditions, many of which are created by the social environment. Hence, the management of the problem requires social action and is the collective responsibility of society at large to make the environmental modifications necessary for the full participation of people with disabilities in all areas of social life. The issue is both cultural and ideological, requiring individual, community, and large–scale social change. From this perspective, equal access for someone with an impairment/disability is a human rights issue of major concern.
Source: Definitions of the Models of Disability

The Everyone Everyday program is more informed by the social model of disability. Social model understanding of disability recognises that a person who experiences disability is whole and unbroken, but is disabled by the unaccommodating and ableism* views, practices, systems and structures of society.

(*Ableism: Perception that being able–bodied is superior to being disabled. Focus on ‘fixing’ or ‘curing’ a person.)

Definition of Disability

A disability can be many things. It may mean a person needs to do everyday things in a different way. They may not be able to hear or see, or they may use a wheelchair or their hands to talk. It may also mean that someone has a harder time learning new things or communicating with others.

The Everyone Everyday program uses the definition of disability from the child–friendly version of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Peoples with Disabilities that was produced by UNICEF (2007).

‘A person has a disability when they have difficulty to see, learn, walk, hear or do other activities. There are many types of disabilities and some we cannot see. Changes to buildings, rules, and attitudes are sometimes needed to help make sure a child with a disability can play, participate and go to school.’

Types of Disability

It should be noted that defining groups of disability is not the focus of the program but it is important teachers have the knowledge as a reference point if needed.

In Australia, disabilities are often divided into ‘disability groups’. A ‘disability group’ is generally a broad categorisation of disabilities grouped on the basis of underlying impairment, disabling condition or cause. The concept also implies similar activity limitations and common needs related to the underlying cause. (Reference: AIHW: The definition and prevalence of disability in Australian)

It is important to note that people can have more than one disability, and therefore can be included in more than one group. Groups of disability and associated communication tips described in these teaching notes are:

  • Cognitive Impairment (includes Intellectual disability and Learning disability).
  • Physical.
  • Sensory (Hearing and Vision).
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Psychological disability or mental health condition.

Not all types of disability are discussed in these teacher’s notes, however links to further information is provided.

Information about disabilities listed above is provided in Appendix 1.

Strategies to Ensure Children with Disabilities in the Classroom Are Not Stigmatised or Singled Out

The Everyone Everyday program is not intended to single out, embarrass or stigmatise children with disabilities in the classroom. When planning to deliver lessons, teachers must:

  • be familiar with the range of disabilities within the school community and understand the challenges. Use this information to facilitate class discussions with care and sensitivity.
  • Consistently use language that focuses on what a person can do (their abilities), not what a person cannot do.
  • Ensure generalisations made include all people. For example, “We all have times in our lives when we need help with challenging situations”, instead of “People with disability need help with challenging situations.”
  • Always put the person first, not their disability (e.g. Say “a person with a disability”, instead of “a disabled person”).
  • Avoid stereotypes or labels (e.g. “the handicapped”, “the blind”). While many people may have the same or similar disabilities, they are all unique individuals who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
  • Talk about disabilities as 'part of the human condition', not as a 'problem' or 'burden'.

Strategies to Differentiate

The lessons in the Everyone Everyday program are designed so that learning experiences are student centred, therefore allowing opportunities for teachers to engage all children in their own learning so they are all working at the appropriate level.

  • The focus of lessons is on learning, not teaching. Learning is progressive as concepts are developed throughout the program.
  • Most questions are open–ended, allowing students to respond at their own level.
  • Learning experiences focus on developing thinking processes
  • Activities involve working individually, in pairs, in small groups and sometimes as a whole class to cater for a range of learning needs and abilities.
  • the teacher uses explicit instruction to guide the lesson so that students are responsive to the learning outcome of the lesson. Explicit instruction begins with setting the stage for learning, followed by a clear explanation of what to do (telling), followed by modelling of the process (showing), followed by multiple opportunities for practice (guiding) until independence is attained – therefore providing opportunities for differentiating learning.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL): UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a single, one–size–fits–all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs. For more information, go to National Center on Universal Design for Learning website.

For further information about ways to differentiate learning, go to What Ed Said – A blog about learning.

Opportunities for Assessment

The lessons contain many assessable moments that will provide information about student achievement. Ongoing assessment will provide evidence of the extent to which students achieve the learning outcomes for the lesson, and how they are progressing towards meeting the requirements of the identified Australian Curriculum General Capabilities.
Assessable moments are linked to learning outcomes and are identified indicated by the following icon: assessable moments tick

Formative assessment can be gained through activities which involve:

  • students discussing their responses to open–ended focus questions, sharing ideas and information, and reflecting on their own learning.
  • demonstrating their understanding of key concepts through applying what they have learned in a variety of formats – e.g. written, verbal, role play, presentation.
  • individual and cooperative planning.
  • mind mapping activities.

Guest Speaker Program

Inviting a guest speaker with a disability is highly encouraged and is a valuable strategy that will help students engage with the program. This will enhance student learning and will highlight the abilities and individuality which is a critical factor in promoting positive attitudes towards people with disability. This is especially beneficial for those students who have had little or no prior contact with people with disabilities.

The best time to engage a guest speaker is at the beginning of the program (in the first 2 weeks). It is strongly encouraged to source a guest speaker from the local community where possible.

It is important that the guest speaker is agreeable to the protocols (see Appendix 2).

If schools need assistance to engage a guest speaker, contact the Everyone Everyday Project Team – maureen.howe@act.gov.au or megan.campbell@act.gov.au

Supporting Resources, Important Links and Professional Support

Sample Letter to Parents/Carers

A letter will need to be sent home to families before program implementation. See Appendix 3 for sample letter.

Certificate for Students

Students who complete the Everyone Everyday program can receive a certificate to acknowledge their participation. An electronic copy of the certificate is provided with this resource.

Days of Significance: International Day of People with Disability – 3 December

School communities are places where we celebrate days of significance. For example, Sorry Day, ANZAC Day, Harmony Day, Clean up Australia Day etc.

Another day to add to the calendar is the International Day of People with Disability, which is celebrated on the 3rd of December each year. Find out what your community is organising to celebrate this day, and become involved! What can your class or school do to celebrate the contributions and capabilities of people with disability?

Celebrating this day is an important strategy to change peoples' attitudes and opinions about disability so that we can build stronger communities with benefits for all. Remember, small changes make a big difference!

For ideas about what your school can do, and other resources support materials for your students, please visit the International Day of People with disability resources website.


The following organisations have given approval to use materials for this resource:

  • Bar None Community Awareness Kit for Schools.
  • The Whitehorse Disability Awareness Kit.
  • Maroonah City Council and MetroAccess (Communicating with People with disability).
  • Australian Sports Commission: Getting Ready Kit and Sports Ability 2 Kit.
  • FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  • Deaf Netball Australia.
  • GoTalk Overlays.

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