A full list of the recommendations from the International Guidelines for the Education of Learners with Down Syndrome.

Key considerations.

1. In all school settings, learners with Down syndrome should be placed in the mainstream classes appropriate to their age. Students should be withdrawn from those settings as infrequently as possible.

2. Education settings for all learners, including those with Down syndrome, should be safe, welcoming and free of all forms of violence, bullying and abuse.

3. Opportunities to learn should continue beyond the school years and throughout adulthood.

4. Decisions about what is taught to learners with Down syndrome should be framed around the right to a broad and balanced curriculum and extra-curricula opportunities, on an equal basis with others, and not based on predictions about what will be needed for adulthood.

5. Academic achievement should be expected for all learners with Down syndrome with provision of appropriate learning supports.

6 Teaching staff should be aware of the high probability of vision and hearing impairments in learners with Down syndrome and that appropriate adjustments may be required to ensure effective learning and communication.

7. Speech and language therapies and other activities which promote good speech clarity and fluency should be available to learners with Down syndrome.

8. Teaching staff should make appropriate adjustments as required, given that some learners with Down syndrome may have extensive social communication difficulties.

9. Teaching should take account of limitations of verbal working memory and information manipulation in working memory.

10. Visual supports for learning (including written words) should be used.

11. Active movement and participation should be used where possible.

12. Occupational therapy can support the continued development of fine motor skills throughout life.

13. If a student displays unusual behaviour, teachers first should rule out pain as a cause.


14. Leaders need to be in complete agreement with Article 24 of the UN CRPD on education, and aware of their role in driving the cultural change required.

15. Countries in the process of establishing an education system should avoid introducing a segregated special school system.

16. Leaders should provide opportunities for all staff, including learning support assistants, to undertake professional development on aspects of inclusive practice.

17. Leaders should ensure adequate planning time for teaching teams. 

18. Leadership teams should be supported through the establishment of networks and communities of practice.

19. Leaders should establish a shared vision of inclusion across all levels of the educational system, working in partnerships with families and the broader community.

20. Principals should have responsibility for the selection of staff.

21. Teachers should be responsible for the learning of all students in their classes and must guide the work of assigned teaching assistants.

22. Support must be provided by the school leadership team to implement school-wide inclusive policy around learning support teams.


23. Initial teacher education should prepare graduates to manage the learning of all students in inclusive classrooms.

24. At the point when a teacher is assigned a class including a student with Down syndrome, targeted professional development should be provided. It is recognised that in some countries, availability of support may be limited, however, online professional learning resources are increasingly accessible.

25. Students with Down syndrome should be given the opportunity to learn the curriculum specified for their school year level, adjusted as necessary to enable their engagement with the learning outcomes.

26. Additional supports and adjustments should be made available to all students in the class, should they wish to make use of them.

27. Where individual education plans are used, all members of the teaching team, including a member of the school leadership team, should be involved in the planning and progress of the individual education plan and its evaluation. At least one family member or advocate should be included in this process. The student should be included and supported to contribute.

28. Teaching in an inclusive classroom requires the learning needs of all students to be accommodated.

29. Behaviour is communication. It is necessary to determine the purpose behind the behaviour and act on the cause.

30. Avoidant behaviour is common and teachers need to guard against students using these strategies so that they develop persistence in learning.


31. Early intervention in inclusive settings leads to greater learning and better social outcomes than programs undertaken in segregated settings. Support children to engage in typical experiences known to promote development. 

32. Professionals, such as school principals and system leaders, must support families to transition to inclusive placements.

33. Explicit and patient teaching of school routines is essential.

34. Inclusive classrooms offer opportunities for vicarious learning of culturally and age related knowledge.

35. Students must be encouraged to attend inclusive secondary classes and be supported to remain there until the end of secondary school.

36. Secondary school should be devoted to the teaching of the secondary school academic curriculum because opportunities to learn that material become limited once the school years have passed.

37. People with Down syndrome have a right to be taught about relationships, sexuality and sexual health.

38. Work experience in community settings develops non-academic attributes essential for employment such as emotional and behavioural skills. Work experience in sheltered workshops or other segregated settings during the school years does not provide the necessary opportunities for learning about open employment.

39. Opportunities to continue learning in both formal and informal settings may require explicit planning beyond the school years.

40. Post-secondary education should be available to students with Down syndrome, should they wish to pursue further study. Required adjustments and supports should be provided as for other levels of education.

41. Ongoing workplace training should be delivered by supervisors who are staff members of the organisation, rather than by external job coaches.

42. External job coaches can be helpful in supporting staff in workplaces to train an employee with Down syndrome and to monitor performance.

43. People with Down syndrome, without other complicating conditions, continue to develop intellectually throughout adulthood and should have access to lifelong learning opportunities.

44. Ongoing literacy learning in adulthood is effective in life contexts,as the need arises, and can be taught by companions in those contexts.

45. Numeracy skills change with technological advances and adults with Down syndrome should be assisted to learn to use devices such as smart phones and computer applications, where they are in use by the general community.

46. Support from trusted adults to enable the person with Down syndrome to manage their finances is likely to be necessary.

Go back to the main page for the International Guidelines for the Education of Learners with Down Syndrome:

Education guidelines