Mission impossible: inclusive teaching in a standards-driven system

Zeta Williams-Brown, Alan Hodkinson, Michael Jopling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses the findings of two studies that critically analysed
teachers’ perspectives on the operation of the standards and inclusion
agenda in primary schools in England. The studies were carried out in
2010–2011 and 2019, respectively. Through the application of Q
methodology, the paper examines whether teachers’ perspectives of
standards and inclusion have changed over time. Analysis of the data
strongly suggests that teachers have experienced significant difficulties
including children with SEND while at the same time trying to
operationalise the objectives of the standards agenda. The research
concludes that there needs to be a focus on developing effective
strategies to include children with SEND within the hostile environment
of the standards agenda. Within such an environment it is suggested
that focus needs to move away from concentrating on ‘children with
SEND having difficulties’ to the creation of inclusive educational settings
which welcome all learners. In addition, it is argued that Statutory
Assessment Tests (SATs) should also be revised to consider the needs of
all learners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEducation 3-13
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2023


  • Standards agenda
  • inclusion agenda
  • teachers
  • primary education


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