Exploring and engaging with the failings of ‘Inclusion in Higher Education’. Is a post-rights inclusive future possible?

There is confusion surrounding ‘Inclusion’. The aims and drivers of inclusive education (IE) as experienced in the 1990s to early 2000s, in the UK and globally, emerged from a ‘successful’ disability rights movement with its depiction of the medical model as pejorative and promotion of the social model. In education, what we currently experience are messy attempts at IE alongside growing collective anxiety and confusion, as some governments take reactionary policy steps. This paper engages with the ubiquitous and complex question of ‘IE’ in the UK with specific reference to the intersectionality of ‘disability’ and its location within the University. It will problematise the UK rights agenda of the 1980s–1990s, locate and reflect on the complexities and conflicts of Inclusion and consider the need for new pedagogic developments. Such developments, it will be argued, emerge when one applies a critical eye to the impact of hegemony and ‘silence’ on the experiences of those with ‘disability’. This approach has been developed in other areas of social justice and diversity, that is, class, gender and ‘race’, and it is argued that such an approach is needed with regard to ‘disability’. It is proposed that post-rights pedagogic developments linked to this may provide a sturdier basis from which UK inclusionists, in particular university educators, can locate their future work.