Inclusive education is based on the principle that all people are equal and should be respected and valued, in accordance with basic human rights. Access to education is a human right.
- Inclusive education involves supporting all people to participate in the cultures, curricula and communities of their local educational setting. Barriers to learning and participation for everyone, irrespective of their ethnicity, culture, disability, sexuality, gender or any other factor, are actively reduced.
- Inclusive education involves more than simply placing students with disabilities into regular schools and classrooms. It is also more than the current system of special education.
- To achieve inclusive education the education system must undergo a radical change so that it has the resources, understandings, values and commitment to teach all students well in non-discriminatory settings. Inclusive education cannot occur alongside special education. It must replace the present dual system of "regular" and "special education". The needs of all children will be met in inclusive environments.
- Inclusive education works. Research and practice in Aotearoa/New Zealand and internationally shows that students who experience an inclusive education are well educated and are well prepared to participate and contribute as members of their communities and society.
"Special education" refers to particular ways of thinking about disabled students and to educational structures that separate and differentiate them from their peer group. "Special education" refers to separate locations such as special schools, units and classes, and to the belief systems and structures in any school or kura that identify students as "special" and separate.