Actively Seeking Inclusion: Pupils with Special Needs in Mainstream Schools

Actively Seeking Inclusion: Pupils with Special Needs in Mainstream Schools

Actively Seeking Inclusion: Pupils with Special Needs in Mainstream Schools

Actively Seeking Inclusion: Pupils with Special Needs in Mainstream Schools


Using the accounts of mainstream pupils and pupils with SEN, the author explores the pupils' identities and experiences in relation to each other. In particular, mainstream pupils often function as "deciders" with regard to the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs. The book also shows how the pupils with SEN actively challenge these decisions and seek to influence perceptions of themselves and their inclusion experiences through the "practices of self". Existing texts tend to focus upon the practices of integration and inclusion, without much attention being paid to what inclusion means to young people. This book will prove invaluable in helping teachers achieve inclusion in the classroom.


Julie Allan has responded to the political challenge of voice in studies in inclusive education. Allan is among the rising number of '…scholars [who] have interrupted the membrane of objectivity across the academy and in their respective disciplines, refusing containment and asking how feminist [disability] politics can and do play, explicitly and subversively, in our lives' (Fine, 1994:14). She moves directly to the ontological heart to interrogate how we frame knowledge about disability and education, and what various forms of knowledge do to both the 'knower' and their subject. 'The power that loiters between' (Fine, 1994:14) the researcher and the research subjects is itself seized within the analytic gaze, rendered problematic and politicized.

Throughout the text one is moved by her sense of the researcher as a cultural worker engaged in teaching transgressions (hooks, 1994). Transgression is central to the work of this text as we are invited to listen to non-disabled and disabled students' discourses and observe the complex regimes of inclusion and exclusion colluding and colliding with each other in the school. Carefully explicating governmentality through pastoral power and pedagogic strategy, we witness the 'broadly positive and supportive' discourses of schools and non-disabled students, and 'at times highly punitive' exclusion of disabled students by non-disabled students and teachers. Particularly important in this study is the meticulous portrayal of the transgressive strategies of disabled students that disrupt teachers' practices framed according to a discourse of 'need'.

Reaching 'critically, self-consciously and creatively rather than faithfully' into Foucault's (1997:208) 'box of tools' this text achieves a sophisticated level of analysis that lends itself to a politics of hope for those engaged in the project of imagining and reconstructing (Friere and Shor, 1987:185) special and, of course, regular education. What lies before you is not a descent into obfuscation to produce a clever and apolitical working of postmodernism played out in the site of disability research. Inclusion is an ethical project of 'actively shaping ourselves'. Allan presses us to examine the derivatives of our self-knowing, and the 'othering' that accompanies it, to reshape ourselves pursuant to the project of inclusion.

Julie Allan, along with Barry, Brian, Fiona, Graham, Laura, Peter, Phillip, Raschida, Sarah, Scott and Susan, has written a book that contributes to the evolving debate over theory in disability studies. The touchstones in the development of her theorizing are the voices of the disabled students, the insertions of disabled researchers and activists and her own interrogation of difference and identity. The effect is a respectful approach where the problematic of being a non-disabled

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