About inclusion

If you want to know more about Inclusion, this website is the right one!

Inclusion in education involves:

  • Putting inclusive values into action.
  • Viewing every life and every death as of equal worth.
  • Supporting everyone to feel that they belong.
  • Increasing participation for children and adults in learning and teaching activities, relationships and communities of local schools.
  • Reducing exclusion, discrimination, barriers to learning and participation.
  • Restructuring cultures, policies and practices to respond to diversity in ways that value everyone equally.
  • Linking education to local and global realities.
  • Learning from the reduction of barriers for some children to benefit children more widely.
  • Viewing differences between children and between adults as resources for learning.
  • Acknowledging the right of children to an education of high quality in their locality.
  • Improving schools for staff and parents/carers as well as children.
  • Emphasising the development of school communities and values, as well as achievements.
  • Fostering mutually sustaining relationships between schools and surrounding communities.
  • Recognising that inclusion in education is one aspect of inclusion in society.

Why inclusion?

Because the world is changing, because moral values are being re-examined as stereotypical thinking is increasingly exposed, because national and international guidance advocates inclusion and, quite simply, because any alternative seems unacceptable, if not morally flawed:

  • Valuing some people more than others is unethical.
  • Maintaining barriers to some students’ participation in the cultures, curricula and communities of local schools is unacceptable.
  • Preserving school cultures, policies and practices that are non-responsive to the diversity of learners perpetuates inequalities.
  • Thinking that inclusion mostly concerns disabled learners is misleading.
  • Thinking that school changes made for some will not benefit others is short-sighted.
  • Viewing differences between students as problems to be overcome is disrespectful and limits learning opportunities.
  • Segregated schooling for disabled learners violates their basic human right to education without discrimination.
  • Improving schools only for students is disrespectful to all other stakeholders.
  • Identifying academic achievement as the main aim of schooling detracts from the importance of personal and moral development.
  • Isolating schools and local communities from one another deprives everyone of enriching experiences.
  • Perceiving inclusion in education as a separate issue from inclusion in society is illogical.

People often have views on inclusion but little time, energy or inclination to explore them. The issues are not simple and answers are far from straightforward. Nonetheless, CSIE strongly urges visitors to this site to make time to grapple with these ideas: to interrogate your views, challenge your thinking, expose and investigate assumptions, try to see things from a number of different perspectives. Be relentlessly curious: how might these issues look if you were a teacher, a parent, a young person? What might it be like if you were experiencing barriers to your learning or participation?

Small changes can make a big difference.

The issue of including disabled learners in mainstream schools has been so heavily contested that it seems to warrant closer consideration. Find out more about including disabled children in mainstream schools and read our responses to frequently asked questions on this issue.

We have also put together some responses to frequently asked questions about schooling for lesbian,gay, bisexual and transgender children and young people.


Including disabled children in mainstream schools

Every child has a right to an appropriate and efficient education in his or her local mainstream school. The right to an inclusive education has been explicitly stated in Article 24 (Education) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (2006). In the UK, including disabled children in mainstream schools has been officially promoted since the early 1980s. Successive governments, however, have been criticised for inadequately resourcing this policy, for lack of political will to enforce it and for maintaining a legal framework which renders inclusive education inaccessible to some learners. This is like issuing a ticket but keeping the door locked.

The national picture is disturbingly inconsistent (please see our publication on Segregation Trends for more information), while the current climate seems to be harbouring reservations towards including disabled learners in mainstream schools, on the grounds that some schools currently are, or feel, inadequately equipped to provide for all learners.

Professor Gary Thomas, in the aftermath of Baroness Warnock’s 2005 assertion that inclusion is not working, wrote an article in the TES (published 14 October 2005) in which he states:

“But 25 years on, it is revealed that inclusion is difficult. Did anyone expect otherwise? Of course special schooling is more convenient for the education system. Children who make serious demands on teachers’ time are removed to special schools. The real issue – if we believe that inclusion is the right thing to do – is about how to make it work. Here, some brave decisions are needed from policy-makers about funding.”

Read the full article.

Including disabled learners in mainstream settings may not be easy, but we hope visitors to these pages will see this as a challenge worth grappling with.

The following text is adapted from Implementing the Disability Discrimination Act in schools and Early Years settings, published by the Department for Education and Skills and the Disability Rights Commission (2006).

Schools that are rising to the challenge of developing an inclusive environment that benefits all children have found the following helpful:

  • a ‘can do’ attitude
  • a welcoming and supportive ethos
  • forward planning
  • strong leadership
  • ongoing consultation with pupils and parents
  • effective staff training
  • good working relationship with outside agencies
  • regular review and evaluation of reasonable adjustments.

About Adriana Butnariu

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