Putting the Principles of Inclusive Education in Their Place: Lessons Learned from the Toowoomba Flexi School

Verbyla, Janet and Danaher, Patrick ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2289-7774 (2019) Putting the Principles of Inclusive Education in Their Place: Lessons Learned from the Toowoomba Flexi School. In: 22nd Biennial Queensland Community Development Conference: 'A Place for Everyone', 23-25 Oct, 2019, Toowoomba, Australia.


Developing a strong sense of place can function powerfully as a vehicle for enhancing social connectedness in contemporary communities. By contrast, such a sense of place can unintentionally increase feelings of disconnectedness and isolation by particular groups and individuals who are variously marginalised from mainstream society. Generating and sustaining “a place for everyone” are accordingly complex and politicised processes that highlight both the strengths and the limitations of current community development strategies.

In this presentation, the authors argue that one way to maximise the prospects of developing “a place for everyone” is to elaborate the place-based dimension of principles of inclusive education. This is because educational policies and practices that genuinely promote the inclusion of all learners have at their heart an awareness of the profound impact that place exercises on students’ and teachers’ sense of identity and on their feelings of connectedness and reciprocity. Consequently, it is crucial to put the principles of inclusive education in their place, by locating them in the community contexts in which they are enacted.

This argument is illustrated by reference to the transformative work and the empirically demonstrated successful outcomes of the Toowoomba Flexi School, which in 2018 celebrated 20 years since its formation. In particular, the authors distil the reasons for this transformative success of the students’ schooling experiences and life chances in relation to six posited principles of the school’s operations during those 20 years. The authors contend that the lessons learned from these principles resonate with the broader project of inclusive education, and that putting these principles in their place of the Toowoomba Flexi School yields wider insights for effective and sustainable community development, in Toowoomba and much further afield as well.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Other)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - USQ Other
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2020 00:08
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2020 04:09
Uncontrolled Keywords: alternative schooling, Centenary Heights State High School, education principles, inclusive education, place, place-based pedagogy, Toowoomba Flexi School
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130106 Secondary Education
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930101 Learner and Learning Achievement
C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9304 School/Institution > 930403 School/Institution Policies and Development
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/37468

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