Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

Counting Every Child In: Promoting Inclusive and Quality Education for Disabled Children in China

The Counting Every Child In (CECI) project aims to promote disabled children’s educational inclusion in China by influencing policy, practice and understandings through engagement and impact activities. It directly response to the call of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to support China’s engagement with the agenda of ensuring inclusive and quality education.

In China, it is estimated that nearly 85 million people are living with disabilities. Since 1980s with the implementation of compulsory education, increasing numbers of disabled children have been admitted into special and regular schools at primary and junior secondary level. Currently, over half of the registered disabled children are placed in regular classrooms. Nevertheless, according to the ‘Imagining Inclusive Schooling’ project (Wang, 2016), which listens to what children have to say about their education, although enrolled into regular schools, disabled children are still facing forms of marginalisation and exclusion in many aspects of their school lives. The exclusionary processes are reinforced by the replication of special educational thinking and practice, a prevailing charitable model of disability in Confucian society and the extremely competitive school culture.

Based on the ‘Imagining Inclusive Schooling’ research, the CECI project is to deliver the following key messages to stakeholders in China:

  1. Children’s voices much be heard and acted upon as a sustainable and local strategy to inform the development of responsive, enabling and inclusive practice.
  2. Much more clarity is needed for the conceptualisation of inclusive education in China. Inclusive education should be about every child’s learning, participation and wellbeing.
  3. To ensure quality education, it urgently needs teacher education programmes to provide support for teachers’ development of inclusive pedagogy in regular classrooms.
  4. It requires stakeholders at all levels to work together to overcome deep-rooted barriers, explore local approach, and systematically transform educational provision.

The CECI project comprises a wide range of dissemination, engagement and exchange activities. It involves producing public dissemination materials, conducting capacity-building workshops and providing intellectual support for practitioners and policy-makers, presenting at international and Chinese local conferences, organising project seminars, and facilitating networks and exchange between Chinese stakeholders and international academics and organisations. A pilot study is also undertaken in collaboration with an inclusive kindergarten in China to further explore the impact of child-led initiatives for teachers’ professional development.


Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – Global Challenges Research Fund Postdoctoral Fellowship

Start date January 2017
End date December 2017

Research team

  • Principal Investigator: Dr Yuchen Wang

  • Co-Investigator: Dr Gillean McCluskey

  • International partner: Centre of Inclusive Education, Beijing Normal University


  • Listening to disabled children: an ethnographic inquiry into inclusive schooling in Shanghai. Invited keynote. The First Eland Inclusive Education International Symposium. Xiamen, China. 9-10 January, 2017.
  • Making it right for every child: examining the inclusion of disabled children in regular schools in China. The 6th Beijing Normal University/UCL-IOE International Conference in Education. Beijing, China. 12-13 May, 2017.
  • Counting every child in: promoting inclusive and quality education for disabled children in China. Scholarship awarded. The Research for Development Impact Network Conference. Sydney, Australia. 13-14 June, 2017.
  • Round table discussion. UNESCO seminar of inclusive education projects in China. Beijing, China. 29 June 2017.
  • Concluding speech for the inclusive education sub-forum. China Disability and Sustainable Development Forum. ILO, UNDP, UNESCO and UNICEF. Beijing, China. 30 June 2017.
  • Round table panel discussion. Haidian District International Seminar on Inclusive Education. Beijing. 5-6 July 2017.
  • From research to impact: promoting disabled children’s inclusion in education in China. The European Conference of Educational Research 2017. Copenhagen, Denmark. 22-25 August, 2017.
  • A critical examination of China’s policy development in supporting disabled children’s inclusion in education. The British Association of China Studies Annual Conference 2017. Glasgow, Scotland. 7-9 September, 2017.
  • From listening to action: Promoting disabled children’s inclusion in education in China. Counting Every Child In’ Network Seminar. Edinburgh, Scotland. 11-12 October, 2017.

Knowledge Exchange activities

  • Keep pedalling: generating research impact in international contexts. 6th Annual Childhood Studies ‘Jamboree’ workshop. University of Edinburgh. 1 March 2017.
  • Policy consultation - the Regulations of Education for Persons with Disabilities (revised 2017). National Network of Parents for Children with Intellectual Disabilities. Beijing. 6 July 2017.
  • Developing inclusive practice in schools. Workshop with Beijing Chaoyang District Special Education Resource Centre. Beijing. 7 July, 2017.
  • Inclusive pedagogy and listening to pupil voice. Workshop with early year teachers from Henan Province. Zhengzhou, China. 12 July, 2017.
  • Inviting students from Beijing Normal University to attend ‘Comparative and International Approaches to Inclusive Education Summer School’. Moray House School of Education. University of Edinburgh. 10-14 July, 2017.
  • Consultancy on child-led inclusive school advocacy project. National Network of Parents for Children with Intellectual Disabilities. September, 2017 – August, 2018.
  • Guest speaker for ‘inclusive pedagogy’ course. MSc Inclusive Education programme. Moray House School of Education. University of Edinburgh. 4 October, 2017.
  • Convener of ‘Counting Every Child In’ Network Seminar. Inviting delegation of researchers from the Centre of Inclusive Education of Beijing Norma University and Dublin Trinity College in Ireland. Edinburgh, Scotland. 11-12 October, 2017.
  • Inviting delegation of high school head teachers from Zhejiang Education Authority for ‘Leadership for Future Schools’ training. Moray House School of Education. University of Edinburgh. 6-17 November, 2017.
  • Working together for inclusive and quality education. Scotland China Education Network Advisory Council Meeting. Edinburgh. 1 December, 2017.

Research outputs

Wang, Y. (2017). Imagining Inclusive Schooling: An Ethnographic Inquiry into the Inclusion of Disabled Children in Regular Schools in China.

Wang, Y. (2016) Imagining Inclusive Schooling: An Ethnographic Inquiry into Disabled Children’s Learning and Participation in Regular Schools in Shanghai. PhD thesis. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.

Related news

  • People’s Daily News (11th January, 2017) How to promote inclusive education?
  • China Daily News (By Liu Xuan, 2nd July 2017). Forum in Beijing opens doors for those with disabilities.
  • Announcement on the website of Beijing Haidian District People's Government (in Chinese) (6th July 2017) -  International seminar of inclusive education in Beijing Haidian District. People’s Government of Haidian District