Episode 17:

Models of Inclusion (Part 1)

Published: November 2011: Updated April 2013. August 2017

Another 2 part series, this time looking at different models of inclusion. We had previously considered the TREE framework, but here we look at two more tools of the trade–the STEP model and CHANGEIT. We considered the advantages and disadvantages of these different–but similar–tools.

So far we’ve used the TREE framework as a model of inclusion. This helps us look at ways of adapting and modifying activities to make them more inclusive of people with disability.

But there are other models around the world that can be used in much the same way. In many ways it’s a matter of personal choice which one works best for you—it might depend on your circumstances too.

So today we’re going to look at alternative models that can be used—depending on your choice and circumstances.

Over the past 30 years or so a host of books, manuals, academic papers, resource cards, and electronic media, including videos, DVDs and interactive CD-ROMs has been produced around the area of adapted physical activity and sport.

This material has been developed by specialists in adapted physical activity, disability sport organisations, educationalists and practitioners working in higher, secondary, primary and special education, coach educators and sport-specific information from sports federations and governing bodies.

However, coaches, physical educationalists, sports leaders and volunteers still cry out for practical tools and guidelines that can help them to develop ideas and strategies enabling them to successfully include young disabled people in their sports and programmes.

This mini-series looks at practical models and easy-to-grasp methods of making inclusion work.

Acronyms and Memory Joggers

Christopher Robertson, in a paper delivered to the International Special Education Congress in Manchester in 2000 said:

“The obvious starting point for inclusive physical education pedagogy is that of differentiation.”

This basic principle underpins the practical application of inclusion strategies.

A number of models of inclusion targeting inclusive practice in physical education and sport have emerged over recent years. In the United Kingdom, the Youth Sport Trust began to use the STEP model in the mid-1990s as a framework for activity differentiation within its TOP and associated programmes. For example:

SSpace: change the space in which the activity is taking place;

TTask: change the nature of the activity;

EEquipment: change the type, size or colour;

PPeople: change the people—the numbers and/or ways in which they are involved, and how they interact with each other.


  • Short, easy to remember
  • Summarises the main areas where adaptations can be made to create a more inclusive activity or environment


  • May not apply or translate in other languages

In a parallel development, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), through its Disability Education Program, uses a similar device in the form of the TREE acronym. Just as a reminder:

TTeaching/coaching style: how the teacher or coach organises, leads and communicates;

RRules and regulations: changes to the rules governing games and activities to promote inclusion;

EEnvironment: changes to the space, for the whole group or individuals within the group;

EEquipment: as in STEP, change the size, weight, colour, etc.


  • Short and easy to recall
  • Unlike, STEP, contains reference to the role of the teacher


  • Non-sporting reference
  • May not apply in another language

A more recent ASC programme, Active After-school Communities, launched in 2005, uses the ‘Change it’ principle to assist teachers, coaches and sports leaders in finding ways of making activities different in order to promote inclusion of all abilities.

C – Coaching style
H – How you score
H – playing Area
N – Number of players
G – Game rules
E – Equipment

I – Intensity
T – Time

‘Change it’ has also been adopted by a number of national sporting organisations (governing body equivalents) in Australia as a practical planning tool.


  • More comprehensive than STEP or TREE
  • More specific ways of changing the activity


  • Too long! Harder to remember what each letter represents. However, recalling only the acronym itself provides a clue to way forward; ie. if it’s not working ‘Change it!’

These acronyms are useful as an aide-mémoire for coaches, and provide vehicles for activity adaptation and modification.

These models can be applied to assist coaches differentiate tasks and skill development practices with any group of developing players or athletes.

In Part two, we’ll look at some functional and structural models of inclusion.

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About the author: Peter Downs

About the author: Peter Downs

Founding Director - The Inclusion Club

Peter is Founding Director of The Inclusion Club and Manager of Play by the Rules – a national initiative to promote safe, fair and inclusive sport. Peter has worked for over 25 years in the field of inclusive sport, disability sport and physical activity including 17 years managing the Australian Sports Commission’s Disability Sport Unit.  In 2013 Peter was fortunate enough to receive a Churchill Fellowship to study models of best practice in inclusive sport and physical activity.