Mission impossible: Inclusive teaching in a standards driven system

This paper discusses the findings of two studies that critically analysed teachers’ perspectives which related to the operation of the standards and inclusion agenda in primary schools in England. This paper compares the data from a study (Study One) carried out in 2010-2011 (Brown, 2013) with another (Study Two) completed in 2019. Through the application of Q methodology the paper examines whether teachers’ perspectives of the standards and inclusion has changed over time. Analysis of the data strongly suggest that teachers have experienced significant difficulties including children with SEND whilst 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’s 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 so as to consider the needs of all learners. Findings from the analysis of the studies suggest that if we want all learners to succeed then it is essential that we celebrate success in all its forms not just within the narrow confines of the standards agenda.