From Them to Us: An International Study of Inclusion in Education

From Them to Us: An International Study of Inclusion in Education

From Them to Us: An International Study of Inclusion in Education

From Them to Us: An International Study of Inclusion in Education


The integration of pupils with special needs into mainstream schools is well established in the UK, but this is not the case in other countries. This volume examines how various countries deal with the issue of special educational needs.


This book documents and analyses the perspectives on inclusion and exclusion revealed by researchers in eight countries in their studies of a school set in its national and local context. In this chapter we provide a background to our concerns and describe the process of creating the individual studies and our analyses of them.

The study arose from a dissatisfaction with much of the existing comparative education research. International studies, which seek findings that have global significance, indulge in oversimplification of educational processes and practices, and ignore problems of interpretation and translation. Alternatively, studies may assume the existence of a single national perspective, constructing an official version of events rather than reporting the conflicts of interest and points of view that arise in all countries. In these ways important differences between and within countries are omitted from study and debate.

We intend that the book should enhance an interest in the shaping effect of national and local policies and cultural and linguistic histories on educational practice. It extends existing comparative reviews of inclusion by making their viewpoints explicit through the illustration of practice in all its messiness (such reviews include OECD 1995, O'Hanlon 1993 and 1995; Meijer, Pijl and Hegarty 1994; Pijl, Meijer and Hegarty 1997; Wade and Moore 1992, as well as the regular 'country briefings' in the European Journal of Special Needs Education). It goes beyond them, too, by challenging the way notions of inclusion, exclusion and 'inclusive education' are interpreted through the lens of traditional special education.

Our interest in inclusion and exclusion is part of a long-standing involvement in understanding and attempting to resolve the barriers to learning experienced by students. We link these concerns to a commitment to increase the participation of students in, and reduce their exclusion from mainstream schools. Both of us have been critical of any narrow conception of the field of 'special education', concerning ourselves with the development of schools

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