There is much uncertainty about whatit means to include. The establishment of the notion of inclusion, in the early1990s, was intended to replace integration, but was seen as too limitingbecause it was merely concerned with matters of physical placement, increasingparticipation of children with special needs in mainstream schools, locationally,socially and functionally (Lewis 1995; Florian 1998).
Among the critics ofintegration was Slee (2001), who argued that it had been little more thancalculus of equity, concerned with measuring the extent of a student’sdisability, with a view to calculating the resource loading to accompany thatstudent into school. Slee describes the crude mathematical formula which isused: Equity E is achieved when you add Additional Resources AR to theDisabled Student D, thus E = AR + D. Inclusion was considered a moredesirable alternative because it was still about increasing participation ofchildren in mainstream schools, but was also focused on the changes required bythe schools to their structures, ethos and practices and on removing barriers(which may be environmental, structural or attitudinal) to children’sparticipation. But questions have arisen about inclusion from various quarters.Researchers are asking about who is to be included and into what. Teachers andtheir representative unions have recently asked why they should include and atwhat cost.
Parents are wondering why they and their children are let down sobadly and children seem genuinely perplexed that it is so difficult to doinclusion. Researchers report that teachers are increasingly talking aboutinclusion as an impossibility in the current climate (Croll and Moses 2000;Thomas and Vaughan 2004), lacking confidence in their own competence to deliverinclusion with existing resources (Mittler 2000; Hanko 2005). In research undertakenby Macbeath et al (2006), there was a general positive regard among teachersfor inclusion, with a recognition of the benefits for all pupils, yet theyexpressed concern about whether mainstream schools were able to provide asuitable education for children with complex emotional needs. Teachers alsoquestioned whether alternative, special provision might better serve childrenwith complex special needs. These findings have led some researchers tospeculate on whether inclusion may ever be realised (Hegarty 2001; Hornby 2003)and indeed Hegarty (2001) has called for the abandonment of the ‘easysloganising’ (249) of inclusion. There has not, however, been the baying demandfor evidence that inclusion works nor the dismissal of inclusion as little morethan an ideological ‘bandwagon’ (Kavale and Mostart 2004, 234) that has beenheard in the US from the special educators, assiduously protecting theirinterests and refusing to acknowledge the ideological nature of their ownposition.