ISJ April 2017: Collaboration between Admissions Offices and Learning Support Departments in inclusive schools – The experience of the International School of Brussels
Robin Berting and Kristen Pelletier
It might seem on the surface that the work of admissions officers in an inclusive international school would be easier than in more exclusive schools. After all, since students with a wider range of learning styles are admitted in inclusive schools, one does not have to deny as many applications! However, nothing can be further from the truth. Simply put, in a more exclusive school, admissions officers can more easily play the role of ‘gatekeeper’ and turn away applicants who would need support without even having to consider their applications, with the catch all response ‘We do not have the resources to meet their needs.’ In inclusive schools, however, potential learning support applications have to be looked at very closely so that it can be determined whether the applicant’s needs can really be met. If they can, the program that the student would follow and any conditions attached to it have to be explained. And if the student’s needs cannot be met, you have to be able to explain in detail why! Clearly, the challenge is greater in inclusive schools, where Admissions teams learn to manage the tensions of moral purpose and the practical realities of numbers, fiscal responsibility and quality of instruction. The Admissions Office needs access to the expertise of Learning Support specialists as part of this walk on the tightrope.