This paper uses evidence from a small-scale study of two English primary school classrooms to examine school inclusion in its political contexts. We argue that ‘inclusion’ and ‘exclusion’ are complex processes, enacted moment-by-moment by pupils and teachers. Our focus is on the pupils' negotiation of these moments, and we examine how their negotiations are contingent on (although not determined by) a web of intersecting indices of ‘difference’, including differences of social class, ethnicity, gender/sexuality, perceived academic ability and physical appearance. We take a post-structuralist approach, well-known in feminist educational research but less often used in research and thinking about ‘inclusive’ schooling, to foreground children's active role in making sense of social conditions that are not of their own making or choice. We conclude that a politically literate understanding of the processes of inclusion and exclusion is necessary both to highlight the continuing reproduction of educational inequality, and to produce the necessary conditions for egalitarian change.