Best Practices: Making Education Transitions Inclusive

Secondary students with and without disabilities listen attentively to a presentation by a wheelchair user.

The report Education Transition for Children with Disabilities in Armenia by an Armenian non-governmental organization (Bridge of Hope) examines the importance of supporting children, particularly children with disabilities, during education transition. Children experience big transitions when they move from home or pre-school to primary school; primary school to secondary school; or secondary school to tertiary education (e.g. vocational training, college, university). Smaller transitions can also occur when children move from one class/grade to another or change schools.

In an attempt to reduce pressure on children, and improve their self-reliance, staff and family need to be actively involved in constructively supporting the transition. Per the report, staff and family should advocate for and support the following recommended strategies for success:

  • Designated transition staff or ‘liaison workers’ should be available in the ‘old’ and ‘new’ schools to transfer information and support transition
  • Current staff should identify emotional, behavioral, developmental, or academic issues to be aware of, and share this information (in an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or other documents)
  • Complete and share IEPs before the transition takes place
  • Teachers who will be working with incoming children with disabilities should meet with the child and his/her guardians before the transition (this may include a home visit)
  • Trial/transition days are recommended as a way for children to visit the new school (with friends and family) and orient themselves
  • Staff training is key, particularly if staff in the new school need support on particular, identified issues

The report also discusses specific recommendations for improving the inclusion of children with special educational needs and disabilities in the Armenian education system, and supporting their educational transitions. These recommendations are grouped by education levels and provide important tools for inclusive education advocates in Armenia and other countries. Some examples include:

  • Pre-school education: kindergartens should be developing individual education plans (IEPs) and transferring this information to primary schools
  • Primary education: transferring information between schools should become mandatory under regulation
  • Basic education: general graduation tests should be adapted to the needs of students with special education needs
  • Secondary education / high school: teachers at this level need more practical training on disability and inclusive communication
  • Professional/vocational education: colleges and vocational institutions should arrange excursions for students from basic schools to learn what skill-building courses are available at higher education institutions
  • University education: universities should have an access officer to liaise between applicants with disabilities and teaching staff to arrange necessary adaptations and support services
  • Life-long education: improved career and professional orientation at high schools should empower students with disabilities to make their own decisions on which profession and/or university to choose