Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)


Riddell's presentation on inclusion to Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí Inicio, Mexico | 10 Nov 2020

Professor Sheila Riddell was invited to give a keynote speech on education inclusion to a virtual international symposium organised by the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí Inicio, Mexico on the 10th November 2020.

The symposium will discuss topics covering communication, education and technolology and Riddell will present on inclusion, disproportionality and rights. Her abstract, presentation slides and the programme of this event can be found below:

Inclusion, Disproportionality and Rights – by Professor Sheila Riddell


In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has widened educational inequalities both in Scotland and globally, it is important to review what we know in relation to the educational experiences and outcomes of children with additional support needs (ASN), with a view to identifying what needs to be done to produce a more inclusive and egalitarian school system.  This paper focuses on ASN policy and practice in Scotland, a country with a strong rhetorical commitment to inclusion and respect for children’s rights. The central question addressed is whether the current system is likely to promote or inhibit the realisation of the rights of children with ASN and the inclusive nature of the system more widely. The paper begins by outlining policy on inclusive education, highlighting the gap which often arises between rhetoric and reality. This is followed by an examination of administrative data published by the Scottish Government concerning the social characteristics of children identified as having ASN, the nature of the categorisation systems, the use of statutory support plans to underpin the new rights and access to dispute resolution mechanisms to challenge local authority decisions. Inequalities relating to social deprivation, gender and ethnicity are highlighted. Case studies then provide insight into the lived experiences of children with ASN, as they struggle to survive in a system which often fails to recognise their needs and accord them respect. Overall, it is argued that despite official commitment to inclusion, the Scottish education system remains profoundly unequal, failing to provide adequate support to those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. As a result of a decade of austerity from 2010 - 2020, followed by the Covid-19 pandemic, there is growing competition for scarce resources, and children with additional support needs from socially deprived backgrounds are ill-equipped to engage in this struggle. The paper concludes by suggesting some actions which might produce a more egalitarian and inclusive system.