Building empathetic, caring citizens is the aim of Riverside School's inclusive approach

Over the last 16 years Riverside School, located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, has developed a curriculum that has focused on both quality of teaching as well as students' well being.

Riverside School started small with 23 children and five teachers, and from the beginning there was a conscious effort at diversity. "Riverside has always considered it as an opportunity to become more inclusive", says Jahnavi Mehta, School Leader at Riverside. The approach has meant welcoming students with diverse physical and mental abilities, as well as socio-economic backgrounds.

All classrooms at Riverside are inclusive, and personalised, one-on-one sessions are given when children need extra support. "Some children are part of an IEP (individual education program) that is designed by the Special Educator along with the home-room teacher", says Mehta.

The school caters to students with different disabilities like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, muscle laxity, slow learners, learning disabilities and children with behaviour concerns.

There is one special educator and one therapist who work closely with the home-room teachers and subject teachers. 'We have a continuous feedback mechanism in place between the special educator, teachers in classroom and the parents", says Mehta.

An internal training system has been set in place where the special educator works towards building the special-needs teaching capacity of the faculty. Once these teachers are enabled with methods for teaching students with different needs, they start working with children.

For children with mobility challenges there are classrooms on the ground floor so access is easier. There is also a ramp for children and staff members with physical disabilities.

Mehta believes that it is important for every school to be inclusive. "Children who learn and grow within a diverse background among people with diverse abilities grow up to be aware, empathetic, caring, and patient - and therefore better citizens of the world".

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