Difference and school exclusion in a time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has deepened educational and social inequalities and exacerbated different forms of exclusion from education. This article reviews current concerns about formal and informal disciplinary school exclusion in England. Educational policy discourse in England has tended to seek individual reasons for exclusion rather than develop an understanding of exclusion in the wider context of education, social policy and the law. In contrast, this article attempts to advance a multi-disciplinary theoretical understanding of the phenomenon of disciplinary school exclusion by drawing on the related concepts of repair and maintenance, connective specialisation, classification and categorisation. The article draws on conversations with professionals and practitioners about the impact of the pandemic on practices of exclusion in England. The conclusion calls for a more nuanced understanding of vulnerability as a primary category in practices of exclusion. This would involve a reconceptualisation of the concept of connective specialism, which assumes that school exclusion cannot be treated as separate from the general welfare and education systems, as a means of understanding vulnerability within an inclusive education system.

  • Harry Daniels
  • Ian Thompson
  • Hilary Emery


International Journal of Inclusive Education

DOI Link