‘Special or Unique’ in the press


6th September 2019

We recently collaborated with Disability Rights to produce ‘Special or Unique’– a report that explores young people’s attitudes towards disability and young disabled people’s experiences of school. We are delighted that our work on this important area has received considerable press interest.

The Independent drew on our work to argue that despite the regular use of the word “inclusion” in schools, young people with special educational needs and disabilities regularly experience prejudice.


Meanwhile, Children and Young People Now highlighted our finding that young people are frustrated with the way disability-related bullying is tackled in school.


The report also featured in Loic’s Schools Week round up of brand-new research that we presented at the 2019 Festival of Education. In his article, Loic explains the collaborative and participatory research approach we used when working with young people.


School leaders and policy-makers now need take action to tackle discrimination and improve young disabled people’s school experiences. Some of our key recommendations for tackling discrimination in school include:

  • School leaders should encourage more active interventions by teachers to address bullying in the classroom and foster greater openness about SEND and disability in the school.
  • The Department for Education should develop SEND-specific guidance for teachers to intervene and reduce bullying. This should involve producing guidance on what teachers should do to reduce bullying of pupils with SEND, and involve young people with SEND in the creation of that guidance.

It is encouraging that the findings from ‘Special or Unique’ are being so widely discussed. We now hope that the education community can learn from young disabled people’s experiences of bullying and social exclusion and make these changes to improve the system.