4th February 2005 at 00:00
Inclusion: the dynamic of school development. By David Skidmore. Open University Press. pound;18.99

This book is about the gap between theory and practice, between commitments to inclusion and the realities.

There are five chapters. The first two set the scene by examining different ways of thinking about learning difficulties and looking at research into inclusive schools. The middle two take a pair of secondary schools as case studies. The final chapter draws out implications and conclusions from what has gone before.

The case studies give clear accounts of key aspects of the schools, and there are plenty of direct quotes, which give the reader a feel for the realities of these schools.

David Skidmore's concluding theoretical model looks at the difference between deviance and inclusion. His choice of terms shows his commitment to inclusion - a less emotive term for deviance might be "differentiation" - and it is not clear that the alternatives are as distinct as his model implies. Do teachers really fall into two groups: those whose explanations of educational failure focus only on learner factors and those who look at environmental factors?

Nevertheless, Skidmore has gone beneath the surface arguments for and against inclusion. This is a welcome book and one that contributes to the study of inclusive education systems.

Brahm Norwich

Professor of educational psychology and special educational needs, University of Exeter

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