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Inclusive practices in sport and physical activity

In accordance with the Disability Standards for Education 2005, we believe that a student with a disability should be able to participate in programs and use facilities and services on the same basis or comparable to student without a disability.

The concepts described below should be utilised when providing opportunities for students with disabilities in sport and physical activities in the school setting. The safety of all participants must be considered in the planning of the sport and physical activities.

Where the inclusive practices are going to occur within the school sport program, parents or caregivers must be informed of full details of the location, supervision to be provided and activities to be undertaken when seeking their written permission. In some instances, medical clearance should be obtained.

Exemplar inclusive practices within school sport programs that have proven successful, have always maintained the integrity of the sport or game.

There are currently three main models for developing inclusive practices in sport and physical activities. Schools should use one or a combination of the models in developing an appropriate risk management procedure for each inclusive practice to be used across a sport or physical activity.

TREE Principle: adaptation and modification

The TREE principle is Teaching Style, Rules, Equipment and Environment and is the Australian Sports Commission model of inclusive practices:

The Tree principle is based in the idea that in many cases very simple modifications or adaptations can be made that will allow greater participation by students with disabilities in physical activity. Every effort should be made to remain as close as possible to the original activity format. The activity selected will depend on a number of factors including:

  • The objectives of the program.
  • The abilities of the students.
  • Space.
  • Time.
  • Available equipment and facilities.

Examples of TREE principle include

Teaching style
  • Use a buddy system.
  • Use physical assistance by guiding body parts through a movement.
  • Use circuit activities to allow students to progress at their own level and pace.
  • Introduce 'disabled' sports (activities that may be new for all students and particularly appropriate for the student/s with disabilities).
  • Allow for more bounces in a game.
  • Use a stationary ball.
  • Have fewer players to allow freedom of movement.
  • Use smooth/indoor surface instead of grass.
  • Use zones within the playing area.
  • Reduce the size of the court or playing area.
  • Use lighter bats or racquets and/or shorter handles.
  • Use lighter, bigger, slower bouncing balls..

Golden Rule of Inclusion

The Golden Rule of Inclusion states that a teacher must find a balance between “maximising the individual potential” and “maintaining the Integrity” of the game. This includes both the individual student and all students in the class or sports group.

When using the Golden Rule of Inclusion you should be aware of the following areas

  • Know the goals of your program.
  • Modify the activities in keeping with the goals of the program.
  • Challenge all the students.
  • Encourage students to value difference.
  • Focus on students abilities.
  • Select appropriate activities.
  • Provide a supportive learning environment.
  • Encourage achievement.

The Inclusion Spectrum

The inclusion spectrum states:

Inclusion encompasses a broad range of options in many different settings.

  • Inclusion in sport can be looked at in terms of a spectrum in which each segment is as important and valid as the next.
  • A student or athlete may choose to participate in any segment of this spectrum or in as many segments, depending on factors such as:
    • Their functional ability.
    • The sport in which they are participating.
    • The opportunities in their local environment.
    • Their personal preference. 

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