This is an updated version of: Rieser, R. (2001) The struggle for inclusion: the growth of a movement, in L. Barton
(ed) Disability, Politics and the struggle for Change, London: David Fulton

The Struggle for Inclusion: The Growth of a Movement
By Richard Rieser
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world:
Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead
Since 1989 a Movement has developed in the United Kingdom that struggles for the inclusion of
disabled children and students in mainstream schools and colleges as a civil and human right. It
has set about changing the thinking throughout the education system; giving a voice to disabled
children and their non-disabled peers and allies; supporting parents in coming to know it was the
oppressive special educational needs system that was their problem and not their disabled
children; changing thinking in the voluntary sector and Government; creating a space for all
those many professionals who influence the lives of disabled children so they can reconsider
their beliefs, practices thereby improve the life chances of disabled young people.
This has not been easy and even today as will be shown there is much resistance which maintains
oppressive structures and practices in the education system and beyond. However, real change
has occurred in schools and colleges, teacher thinking and Government policy. In the last ten
years major changes in legislation have occurred consolidate these changes. Now in 2010 a new
Coalition Government has taken power committed to massive cuts in public expenditure and
‘removing the bias towards inclusive education’. It remains to be seen if inclusive attitudes and
practices survive this onslaught of reactionary thinking.
Here I will examine the development of the thinking, policies, practices and a few of the
struggles which shaped the Integration Alliance. From 1989 the Alliance has developed a radical...