The Tomlinson Report Inclusive Learning played a key role in the post‐compulsory sector's widening participation agenda. Where the Kennedy Report of 1997 examined ways of improving learning opportunities for all, the Tomlinson Report explored widening participation specifically for learners with learning difficulties or disabilities. Tomlinson found that students with special educational needs were underachieving in the post‐compulsory sector; were unable to access the wider curriculum; and were, for the most part, lacking in confidence, possibly because of their previous school experience of education and learning. The Report found that historically learners with learning difficulties or disabilities were excluded from mainstream opportunities in the post‐compulsory sector. It also found that this form of exclusion affected the culture of learning providers such as further education colleges.
Tomlinson recommended that the responsibility should be on the educational institution to empathize and respond to the individual, and to address the needs of that individual learner. Among the Report's recommendations was a requirement that institutions should publish their own disability statements, with information regarding entry and openness of access, which should operate regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or disability. The Report envisaged that such a focus on inclusive learning would improve the quality of learner experience for students with difficulties or disabilities, and, indeed, change the culture of educational establishments by focusing on planning with and supporting the needs of individuals.