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The impact of population inclusivity in schools on student outcomes

What do we want to know?

The growth in the number of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) being placed in mainstream schools has raised concerns about the potential negative impact of this policy on the achievement of their peers without SEN.

Who wants to know?

Policy-makers, teachers, parents and LEA staff.

What did we find?  

  • Taken as a whole the findings indicate that placing children with SEN in mainstream schools is unlikely to have a negative impact on academic and social outcomes for pupils without SEN.

  • The findings are slightly more positive for academic rather than social outcomes.

  • At the secondary level, where there were very few studies, the outcomes were slightly more mixed.

  • Some of the findings suggest that the inclusion of pupils with SEN in primary schools can have a positive impact on the achievement of their mainstream peers, particularly if the support offered to the pupil with SEN is well managed.

  • There is no evidence about whether the ‘inclusion effect’ is more or less serious for any one particular curriculum area.

What are the implications?

The review findings suggest that there is no empirical evidence to support expressed concerns about the impact of inclusion on achievement, especially in primary schools. This applies across all of the four categories of SEN. Implementation of the inclusion agenda may address these concerns through the provision of appropriate information and support to schools, parents and pupils. Further research is needed on the views of pupils without SEN about inclusion.

How did we get these results?

The review synthesised the results of 26 studies, which contained a total of 40 separate findings.

This summary was prepared by the EPPI Centre

This report should be cited as: Kalambouka A, Farrell P, Dyson A, Kaplan I (2005) The impact of population inclusivity in schools on student outcomes. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

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