Schools that include more pupils with special educational needs
perform as well as less-inclusive schools, a study has found.
Highly inclusive schools have a positive impact on the social
skills and understanding of all their pupils, although there may be
risks of isolation and low self-esteem for pupils with special
needs, says the research for the DfES.
Researchers studied 16 highly inclusive primary and secondary
schools in-depth, and analysed data on over 500,000 pupils from key
stages one to four from the National Pupil Database.
Although they found that highly-inclusive schools had slightly
worse results than the less-inclusive, this was probably because
they tended to be in more disadvantaged areas where pupil
attainment was lower.
Highly-inclusive schools tailor to individual pupils’
needs at the same time as employing strategies to improve all
pupils’ attainment. The lower performing highly-inclusive
schools did not do less well because of the way they managed
special needs pupils, the study finds.
The authors conclude that the national commitment to inclusion
is unlikely to affect school performance. “Schools need not
feel more anxious about becoming more inclusive,” they
But schools should monitor the effects of becoming more
inclusive with care because highly-inclusive schools have an
“ecology” which is vulnerable to staff shortages, lack
of funding and managerial weaknesses.
Research is at: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RB578.pdf