Integration in relation to inclusion

Integration Glossary Item

Origin and explanation of the terms

The terms originates from the Warnock report of 1978 where it was suggested that children who were largely educated in special schools until then could be educated within mainstream settings provided that this did not conflict with 'the efficient use of resources'.

Integration conveys a sense that pupils must adapt to school, with no assumption that the school will adapt to accommodate a greater diversity of pupils (Mittler 2000) and is typically contrasted with more recent definitions of inclusion (eg Mittler 2000, Sebba and Sachdev 1997, Tassoni 2003) which tend to reflect a need for establishments to adapt and be flexible enough to accommodate each and every child. 

Therefore, notions of coping with children that are still encountered in many schools, belong in the era of integration, implying that the concern is not with educational outcomes but with allowing the child to be present in mainstream setting.

Inclusive practice relies on knowledge, skills and understanding, resources and attitudes. Positive attitudes are a necessary starting point but by themselves they are rarely sufficient without the other elements. Schools may need to develop skills and knowledge by working with specialist professionals brought into the school. This can enhance the capacity of the school to act in inclusive ways in relation to children with a range of special needs.



Blamires and Moore (2004) have plotted support service development from early involvement with individual pupils outside the classroom (the ‘cupboard' model) to the more advanced model of working in an integrated fashion with other agencies across a ‘community' of schools.  It would be useful for trainees to consider the elements of support provided that serve to build the school's capacity to include an increasingly diverse range of learners. 

The claim of the social model of inclusion that teachers require commitment rather than skills has been contested by Robertson (2002),  but for trainees, still getting to grips with ‘general' teaching skills, a key element to develop early on is a positive attitude to the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.  Knowledge, skills and understanding can be acquired later and this acquisition is part of a teacher's professional development from trainee, to NQT and onwards.  Tait and Purdie (2000) argue that if teachers do not develop positive attitudes towards people with disabilities during their training, these attitudes will be difficult to change and inclusive schooling will be more difficult to achieve. Similarly Murphy's (1996) research suggests that if teachers emerge from initial teacher training programmes without a positive attitude to inclusion, their attitudes would be difficult to change

Furthermore, research by Avramidis et al (2000) found that the student teachers generally held positive attitudes towards the general concept of inclusion but their perceived competence dropped significantly according to the severity of children's needs. Children with emotional and behavioural difficulties were seen as causing more concern and stress than those with other types of special educational needs. This may mean that the teacher might begin with an inclusive orientation but develop a more integrationist perspective if they are not supported in developing the necessary skills and knowledge.


Walker suggested that the differences between inclusion and integration may be summarised as below:



Emphasises needs of 'Special Students'

Emphasises rights of all students  

Changing or remedying the subject

Changing the school

Benefits to the student with special needs of being integrated    

Benefits to all students of including all

Professionals, specialist expertise and formal support  

Informal support and the expertise of mainstream teachers


Good teaching for all


 (Thomas et al 1997)

It is worth discussing the degree that practice in different settings represents integration or inclusion.



Glossary item by: Simon Ellis


Further Reading

  1. Avramidis E, Bayliss P and Burden R (2000) ‘Student teachers' attitudes towards the inclusion of children with special educational needs in the ordinary school', Teaching and Teacher Education Vol. 16, No 3 pp 277-293
  2. Blamires, M. and Moore, J. (eds) (2004) Support Services and Mainstream Schools.  London: David Fulton
  3. DfEE (1997) Excellence for All Children.  London: HMSO
  4. DfES (2004) Removing Barriers to Achievement. Nottingham: DfES
  5. Mittler, P. (2000) Working Towards Inclusive Education. London: David Fulton
  6. Murphy D. M. (1996) ‘Implications of inclusion for general and special education', Elementary School Journal Vol 96 pp 469-493
  7. Robertson, C. (2002) ‘The social model of disability' in O'Brien, T (ed) Enabling Inclusion: Blue Skies...Dark Clouds? London: Optimus
  8. Sebba J. with Sachdev D. (1997) What Works in Inclusive Education? Ilford: Barnardo's.
  9. Tait K. and Purdie N. (2000) ‘Attitudes toward disability: Teacher inclusive environments', International Journal of Disability, Development and Education Vol 47, No 1 pp 25-38
  10. Tassoni, P. (2003) Supporting Special Needs: Understanding Inclusion in the Early Years.  Oxford: Heinemann
  11. Thomas, G., Walker, D & Webb, J. (1997)The Making of the Inclusive School London Routledge Falmer
  12. Thomas, G. and Loxley, A. (2001) Deconstructing Special Education and Constructing Inclusion.  Buckingham: OUP
  13. Warnock, M. (1978) Special Educational Needs: The Warnock Report London HMSO



inclusion, integration

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Simon Ellis and Mike Blamires

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