Inclusive education is often interpreted as being specifically aimed at learners with disability and/or special needs, instead of catering for all learners, with all of their diverse and individual needs, by identifying and removing barriers to learning.

Inclusive education policy and practice activities that use labelling and terminology linked to special needs underpinned by a medical approach, with separate provision for different groups, are not in line with the rights-based approach to inclusive education systems, which focuses on the barriers within the system. These barriers may include the potential legal barriers that fail to address discrimination and ensure all learners’ full participation, as outlined in international conventions.

A focus on learners’ needs in general, and not on labelling groups of learners, would indicate a move towards a rights-based approach.

More information on the Legislative Definitions around Learners Vulnerable to Exclusion activity is available in the web area, and in the associated Legislative Definitions report and Policy Brief.

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