On the necessary co-existence of special and inclusive education

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While many distinctions between ‘special’ and ‘inclusive’ education have been made and continue to be forcefully debated, the two concepts remain strongly evident in policy and practice in many countries. This paper discusses the interrelated history of these concepts. It explores how conceptualisations of them have changed since Salamanca and reflects on whether inclusive education has, can or should replace special education. It considers the extent to which ‘special’ and ‘inclusive’ education are understood as the same or different today. The paper argues for a clear a distinction to be made between how special educators can work in support of inclusive education and the task of inclusive education which addresses the barriers to participation faced by members of marginalised groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-704
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number7-8
Early online date29 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2019


  • Salamanca statement
  • special education reform
  • inclusive education


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