A term used to describe and promote policies, strategies, and practices which aim to enable all learners to participate fully in education. As widely conceived, inclusion is closely connected with social justice concerns for equality and rights for all. In this conception it often refers to social inclusion, which is concerned with reducing inequalities between the relatively disadvantaged sectors of society and the relatively advantaged. In this sense it may refer to race, gender, social class, disability, learning difficulties, religious belief, or some other category or group. It is contrasted with exclusion. Exclusion may be imposed. It may also take the form of self‐exclusion, as in truancy, or as in the self‐exclusion of the middle classes from mainstream educational institutions. More narrowly conceived, the term ‘inclusion’ can refer especially to pupils and young people with special educational needs. Such pupils have traditionally been excluded—or excluded themselves—from classrooms, mainstream institutions (schools, colleges, and universities), and the curriculum. The 1994 Salamanca Statement is widely credited with promoting a view of special education as an equality or social justice issue rather than as a response to a deficit in individuals. Consequently, ‘inclusion’ rather than ‘integration’ has become the preferred term, implying that the school must change to ‘fit’ the pupil rather than the pupil to fit the school. However, the concept of inclusion continues to be contested. Tensions arise because there are contradictory educational policy imperatives both for inclusive education and for competition and selection. Moreover, policy approaches to inclusion may prioritize the supporting of individual children, making schools inclusive at a systems level or, more politically, challenging discrimination. Underlying these tensions are different kinds of explanatory framework within special education: individual pathology, social theory, critical theory, and social justice perspectives.
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0009/000984/098427eo.pdf Presents the Salamanca Statement.