The main difference between special education integrated education and inclusive education is that special education is a separate system of education that caters to the needs of children with disabilities outside the mainstream education, while integrated education and inclusive education occur within a setting where students with disabilities learn alongside peers without disabilities.
In special education, the service and the support necessary for one student can vary from the requirement of another student. Special education has an individual-based approach and focuses on giving students the resources they need to make progress in education. The situation within the integrated classroom is quite different, as extra support required will be given to facilitate the student to adapt to the regular curriculum. When it comes to inclusive education, this situation changes further. The inclusive classroom generally accepts the different learning patterns of the students and adapts itself to cater to the unique and individual need of each student.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Special Education
– Definition, Features
2. What is Integrated Education
– Definition, Features
3. What is Inclusive Education
– Definition, Features
4. Similarities Between Special Education Integrated Education and Inclusive Education
– Outline of Common Features
5. Difference Between Special Education Integrated Education and Inclusive Education
– Comparison of Key Differences
Inclusive Education, Integrated Education, Special Education, Special Needs
What is Special Education?
Special education includes a variety of services in different settings using different methods to meet the needs of differently-abled students, which cannot be fulfilled in mainstream classrooms. Education specialists also use the term “Special Needs Education” as an alternative term for this approach. This approach is based on the assumption that children with disability have some special needs, and they need to study in a different setting with other children having similar needs.
However, this doesn’t mean that the kids with special needs are placed separately in a special classroom round-the-clock. For instance, some students may spend most of their time in a general education classroom. They might just need special accommodations to learn right alongside their peers in regular classrooms. Some may spend just a couple of hours in a resource room under the supervision of a specialist, while others might need to attend a different school that specializes in teaching kids with learning disabilities. In brief, a child’s specific needs determine the nature of teaching (curriculum, setting, etc.).
What is Integrated Education?
In brief, in an integrated classroom setting, students with special needs learn together with their general education peers. However, differently-abled students get enough support from special needs education specialized teachers to adapt to the regular curriculum. Occasionally, separate special education programs also occur within the general classrooms. In brief, an integrated classroom occupies both general education and special education teachers.
Within the system of integrated education, the students with special needs tend to acquire age-appropriate social skills by patterning after general education peers. Furthermore, an integrated classroom creates a challenging environment for students with disabilities. Consequently, these students learn to be more independent. Similarly, the fact that they get the chance to engage in what their peers without disabilities do would have a positive influence on their self-confidence.
What is Inclusive Education?
Within the system of inclusive education, all the special need students, as well as the general students, get equal benefits. Further, it entails clear participation as well. Compared to the special education system, inclusive education focuses not only on the students with special needs but others as well. Therefore, we consider the inclusive approach as ‘education for all.’
Within this system, the students do not have to fit into mainstream education. Instead, the school changes to accommodate the needs of all. Therefore, it welcomes the diverse learning styles and speeds of students. In addition, it employs different techniques to cater to the needs of every student. Furthermore, in comparison to special and integrated systems of education, inclusion is far more progressive as it rejects barriers that hinder the students and encourage all-inclusive participation.
Similarities Between Special Education Integrated Education and Inclusive Education
- These education systems can be less effective practically in rendering the expected results. This is mainly due to the varying learning styles and speeds between special needs students and general students.
- All three education systems aim to serve the needs of differently-abled students.
- Special, integrated and inclusive education can take place within the mainstream classroom.
Difference Between Special Education Integrated Education and Inclusive Education
Special education is a system of education that responds to the needs of children with disabilities outside mainstream education. Integrated education is provided within the general classroom where the special needs students learn alongside their peers without disabilities. Inclusive education is a system where all special need students, as well as the general students, get equal benefits, welcoming the diversity of the students and changing accordingly.
Within the system of special education, the approach is more individual-centred, where the mode of teaching and the content is designed separately in accordance with the needs of individual students. However, within an integrated classroom, a special need student is expected to adapt to the general curriculum. More significantly, the inclusive classroom follows an ‘education for all’ approach.
Level of Challenge
In comparison to special education and inclusive education, integrated education is more challenging for special needs students as it demands them to adapt to a general curriculum.
Integrated education and inclusive education take place within the general classroom. But special education can take place within the general classroom, resource room or even in a specialized school; the setting depends on the need of the student.
Boost of Confidence
Integrated education and inclusive education help to boost the confidence of the special need students as it gives them a chance to stay in the same classroom with their less challenged peers. In contrast, within special education happening inside a separate environment, special need students start to adapt to a separate culture. Consequently, they may find it hard to readjust and mingle with their families, peers, and communities.
The main difference between special education integrated education and inclusive education is that special education system has an individual student-centric approach while integrated education attempts to encourage the students with disabilities to be part of the larger group, and an inclusive system sticks to “education-for-all” approach. Furthermore, in comparison to special education, integrated education and inclusive education are more promising in uplifting the self-esteem and the self-concept of students with special needs.
1. “The Benefits of Work Integrated Learning for Students.” Think Pacific.
2. “Inclusive Education: Knowing What We Mean.” OpenLearn.