Report from the "What is Inclusion?" Unconference organised by the Educational Rights Alliance

Changes in the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) system have sparked debates about the inclusion of children with SEND in schools.

On 3 February 2015, the Educational Rights Alliance hosted the first unconference on inclusion in England. The unconference was sponsored by Irwin Mitchell, solicitors with a specialism in SEND law.

A mixture of parents/carers, teachers, academics, activists and allies attended the unconference. An unconference allows attendees to set the agenda and to suggest topics for discussion, so the programme was a mixture of presentations and open forum debates.

Presenters included:

  • Eleven-year-old Nye Doherty, who presented on his experiences of schooling
  • Diane Kay, from the Educational Rights Alliance, spoke about her experiences as a parent of a disabled child 
  • Damian Milton, an academic and a parent, spoke about his research in schools
  • Katherine Runswick-Cole, from RIHSC, and Nick Hodge from Sheffield Hallam University gave a presentation on the challenges parent/carer-practitioner partnership working.  

Open forum debates included discussions about Education Health and Care Plans, the Local Offer and the possible opportunities offered by the changes in the legislation.

Katherine Runswick-Cole said: “Nick and I were really delighted to be invited to speak at the first unconference on inclusion and to share our research on parent/carer-practitioner partnerships. This worthwhile event stimulated discussion and offered some practical ideas to move the inclusion agenda forward, including developing the Educational Rights Alliance Manifesto”.

You can find out more about the Educational Rights Alliance, or to sign up to their Manifesto, here