News and opinions on disability
and inclusion

The science of inclusion

CCS Disability Action wants everyone to feel included and valued in society. This position is based on our values and philosophy. It is also a position that is increasingly being backed by evidence.

Most of us have experienced rejection and exclusion at some point in our lives. We know how bad it feels to be excluded. A growing body of research is shedding light on just how harmful exclusion and rejection can be, especially for children and adolescents.

What is shocking is that studies have found that the effects of being excluded are worse than bullying. Feeling excluded can cause long-lasting serious harm for adolescents and children.

Research has also found that children with disabilities are more likely to be targets of rejection and exclusion. Not only can disabled children experience exclusion from other children, but the education system itself can actively exclude them.

Children with disabilities are still sometimes excluded from the same classes as their non-disabled peers, class trips and, on occasions, from mainstream schools entirely. Sometimes the justification for excluding disabled children is to prevent bullying, but the long-term effects of exclusion are worse than bullying.

Feelings of exclusion are also linked to poor academic performance, which raises questions about withdrawing children from classes for specialist teaching. Studies have found that academic performance is improved by self-confidence and a student’s belief that they can improve their performance.

Praising a student’s intelligence can actually lower their performance. Students whose intelligence is praised tend to put in less effort as they believe they have a natural ability to do well. Criticising a student’s intelligence can cause them to despair and give up. Dividing children up into different groups may be limiting their potential and causing some children harm due to feelings of exclusion.

We are all different and will excel in some areas and not others. Research is increasingly finding, however that we all perform better when everyone feels included and is encouraged to reach their potential.

Sam Murray
National Policy Coordinator

If you want to read the research behind this blog post, contact me. Our library also has lots of great books and journal articles to boost your knowledge.