Testing, learning outcomes and inclusion: how can we get it right?


When I talk to teachers about including disabled children, we always get stuck on testing. In many countries there is a tough and inflexible exam at the end of primary school, for admission to secondary school. Disabled children are usually not entered for this exam. This may be because no one has considered how a child who can’t write can take the test, or because people think a disabled child is not capable of learning. Where disabled students have managed to make it to secondary school, they often find themselves with the same problem – no chance of taking formal exams at the end.

Many teachers worry whether it’s worth keeping children in primary school if they have no chance of passing exams. Some teachers will keep disabled children in lower primary for years in the hope of providing some learning, but parents can become frustrated at the lack of qualifications. Sometimes head teachers don’t want to enter disabled children for exams because they worry about bringing the school’s results down; but often it’s felt to be unfair to put a child through tests set up for them to fail.

I try to encourage discussion of alternative ways to test a child’s knowledge. If a child writes slowly, why not give extra time? If a child can’t see, why not read the questions and write the answers for them? Teachers are often enthusiastic, and discussing inclusive assessment can reframe the problem from ‘disabled children can’t learn’, to ‘disabled children’s knowledge isn’t captured well’. However, no matter how positive a teacher’s attitude, teachers rarely have the power to decide how formal testing works.

Many questions come up about making testing systems inclusive. Who will be running the exam? Is there any law or policy which requires adaptations? How should concerns about cheating be dealt with? (For example, if a child has to give their answers verbally, should the recorder be observed? What will it cost to provide two extra people to test one child?) How much extra exam time does each child need? What if a child doesn’t understand the language the exam is written in – is that an accessibility question or a wider policy issue? How can marks be given fairly if testing is done in different ways for different children?

The same questions apply to the large learning outcomes surveys used to show the impact of donor-funded projects. This provides a huge disincentive to include disabled children in education programmes. Why would the implementing agency bring children into a project who can’t participate in testing, when this will reduce the final averaged scores? If surveys are designed from baseline stage to be inclusive, this can be avoided, but it’s rare. This in turn makes it difficult to agree what types of adaptations meet international standards for learning outcomes testing.

All these issues can be dealt with, and there is some useful experience on what has been tried in the past. (Please comment below on what has worked for you!) But inclusive testing also needs new types of advocacy. The people who work as examination developers and learning outcomes experts are often not based in the front line of teaching, and come under pressure to make testing as rigorous as possible. Efforts to make testing equitable can be seen as attempts to reduce standards.

There is little research on the extent to which inaccessible testing pushes disabled children out of school. However, my experience has made me feel that education programmes should tackle testing at the start, rather than realising too late how much it damages equity and inclusion. This would mean building relationships with new groups of people, and having discussions about inclusion and education rights from different perspectives. Where once the question was, ‘How can we get all children into school?’, it’s fast becoming, ‘How can we make sure that enrolment leads to a worthwhile education for everyone?’

Helen Pinnock

Senior EENET Consultant

How I joined the EENET family


Back in 2010 I was working with World Vision Armenia as an Education Expert and was managing two big projects on supporting inclusive education in Armenia. The first project was receiving funds through World Vision UK and DFID. It aimed to improve inclusive teaching practices in schools, strengthening the teachers’ capacity to adapt the curricula to the needs of children with special educational needs. The second project was funded through USAID, and focused on strengthening the capacity of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to promote public understanding of disability and acceptance of inclusive education.

According to the logframe of my first project we needed to invite an international consultant to evaluate our efforts and provide recommendations on improvements and following steps. I am so thankful to WVUK for recommending Ingrid Lewis from EENET! Ten days we spent travelling throughout the project sites. Conducting meetings and round table discussions at schools, having lesson observations and informal communications with students helped me to understand the context well, my partners’ perception and understanding of both the project’s goals and inclusive education concept. It revealed our strengths and weaknesses alike and helped me view inclusive education from a totally different angle: it is not education for children with special educational needs, it is enabled education for ALL students, so that every child can gain from the hours spent at school in proportion to his/her abilities and capacities.

This consultancy supported me to recognize good teachers in our communities and develop role models for others through the first video manual for teachers in Armenia. It also helped me learn about and understand the Index for Inclusion and discover the global EENET community!


Children Armenia poster Teachers









Here’s a poster featuring the opinions of children in inclusive schools in Armenia

Two years later I was honored to enter the EENET family as a ‘Client Representative Director’ – a volunteering job, which gave me an opportunity to know in person other team members and experienced experts in the inclusive education field who are all very open and dedicated people ready to share their knowledge easily.

My role is to view EENET’s activities from the clients’ point of view (this is primarily about the consultancy clients, but I’m also interested to see EENET’s activities from the perspective of general network users). My role is to provide suggestions about what types of ‘services’ and resources the clients/users may request; in what format the information should be presented, etc.

I’ve always felt that EENET’s website provides wide access to resources on inclusive education practices; it is very supportive for teachers, offering different articles and methodologies for managing inclusive classes. It is accessible for different users (I find the on-line translator helps non-English speakers understand the core messages in all articles). I believe that this new blogging opportunity will increase EENET’s communication with a wider range of clients/users/partners.

I would love to read your views and suggestions about what you would like to see and or obtain through EENET’s website. You can leave comments here, or email me via consultancy@eenet.org.uk

Hasmik Ghukasyan

EENET’s Client Representative Director


Sharing experiences – with EENET’s help


2newsletters for blog








“So do you fancy being part of the editing team?”

This was the question I was asked when I joined the EENET team as a volunteer in 2011. I had no idea, in a good way, what I was letting myself in for. Two-and-a-half years later, as Network Coordinator, I am thoroughly enjoying the email conversations I get to have with network members, the letters and cards that arrive in the post, and of course co-editing the articles submitted for the website and the Enabling Education Review.

There are many levels and stakeholders involved in ensuring that educational experiences are inclusive. Stakeholders range from practitioners, such as teachers and community workers on the ground, to those involved in developing policies for education and teacher training. We aim to reflect all of this in the articles we publish in the Review and on the EENET website.

In order to publish as many of your articles as possible in the Review we need to keep them short. However, as I know from experience, writing a 550 or 1100 word article can be really difficult! How do you keep to the word limit while ensuring that all the important elements are included? That’s why editing articles is something that we provide help with.

We are looking forward to reading all of the submissions again this year and discovering the range of issues you are working on. The theme for this year’s Review is Inclusive Education – Beyond Schools. To find out more, read the Call for Articles. If you are not sure whether your work fits within the theme, or you are not sure what to include in your article, email me (info@eenet.org.uk) and we can discuss it.

If you need a reason why it is important to submit articles about your inclusive education work to EENET, read on.

We know from the number of hits on our website, and the emails I receive, that lots of people gain from the inclusive education ideas we share. For example, I recently received a lovely email detailing how useful EENET’s publication, Researching our Experience (based on action research in Zambia), has been for people facilitating workshops and teacher education sessions in India. Although the cultures and contexts are very different, many of the ideas cross over and the activities described in Zambia can be adapted for use elsewhere.

Sharing experiences and examples of promising practice is an important step in improving the quality of education for marginalised groups and in helping to support teachers, head teachers, community leaders, parents, etc, to develop their own knowledge and practice.

So, why not put pen to paper and have a go at sharing your experiences!


Su Corcoran

Network Coordinator

What are your favourite inclusive education videos?


Did you know that if you type ‘inclusive education’ as a search in YouTube, it brings up 408,000 results?

Mind blowing! And incredibly confusing for anyone searching for video materials to use in their own inclusive education work. Of course you can use the search function to narrow down the number of results, but there is still an overwhelming range of options. Plus if you are based in Africa, Asia, Latin America or the Middle East many of the films may be irrelevant to the context of your work, as the majority of inclusive education videos found on YouTube were made for American or European audiences.

You could alternatively search through the websites of relevant NGOs and UN agencies, to see if they have made any useful videos. But that’s time consuming too.

So that is why EENET has decided to create a video catalogue. The catalogue will provide a categorised list of a relatively small number of recommended video materials on inclusive education. It will also provide more information about the content of each video, how it could be used and with whom, etc. The recommended videos will be made available through our website, and we hope also on DVD. Depending on the videos we shortlist, we may develop some user guides too.

So, if you have got some favourite inclusive education videos, then we’d like your help with this project! The details can be found below, and we’ll keep you updated with progress.


Ingrid Lewis

 What do we need from you?

We need your recommendations of videos about inclusive education!

  • You can recommend films that provide an overview of inclusive education, or that focus on specific issues (disability, gender equality, inclusion for other marginalised groups, etc).

— An initial search found many videos do not offer an outline/explanation of what inclusive education is (or what it means to the film maker/organisation).

  • You can recommend videos that were created for awareness-raising purposes, or as training materials, and so on.

— An initial search found that many videos talk about specific projects from an awareness-raising/fundraising perspective. Good quality video-based training materials seem less common, so recommendations for the latter would be particularly appreciated.

  • We need videos that feature different countries/regions. We mostly want videos that are not filmed in Europe, America, etc, but we’ll probably select a few that are.

— The initial search (excluding material from America and Europe) found a predominance of material focusing on Africa and some parts of Asia and an under representation of Latin America for example.

  • We are keen to feature videos that promote participation – for instance, they feature the voices of stakeholders, or were even made by stakeholders.
  • We want videos that are interesting and engaging (e.g. not a filmed lecture, unless it is an amazing lecture!).
  • Ideally we need films that are subtitled, signed and/or available in other languages, to increase their accessibility.

— An initial search has found that subtitled videos are quite common, but signing and other language availability is less common.

What to send us

  • If you don’t have much time, please just email us the website link(s) for your recommended video(s) – or you can share the links here in a blog comment. If the videos are not online, you can send a DVD, CD or VHS copy to the address below; or you could use a Dropbox folder if you want to send us large electronic files.
  • If you have a bit more time, please feel free to tell us why you are recommending the video(s), how you or your colleagues have used them, or how you would recommend that they be used, etc.

We will spend the next month or so viewing and assessing videos, and will then create a catalogue of the most relevant/useful. We may ask for some volunteers to review the draft catalogue in a few months, so if you are interested in doing that, let me know.

Deadline for sending recommendations: 7th April (although the catalogue will be updated periodically, so you can send us recommendations at any time after that too!)

Send DVDs etc to:

37 Market Street
SK14 8NE

Please email links to online videos to:



My five favourite articles from Enabling Education Review: Let’s think ‘twintrackly’!


Blog by: I-Jung (Gracie) Lu, EENET volunteer and PhD student at University of Manchester

“Is it possible to include all students in school? I don’t know anything about disability (especially some types of disability). Won’t they receive better educational support in special schools?” Over the years, every time I have talked to mainstream teachers about the idea of inclusion, these sorts of questions have always been asked.

So then, is it possible? How do we develop education systems within a wide concept of ‘education for all’ and also consider and take good care of all needs of the individual? In other words, how do we take forward a twin-track approach? From EENET’s latest edition of ‘Enabling Education Review’ (Issue 2, December 2013), which focuses on Inclusive Education and Disability, I have selected five articles that might help answer this question.

Cover Enabling Education Review 1

Knowing Why and What’s Important

Teachers for All: Inclusive teaching for children with disabilities

To create quality education for all, you need to understand what inclusion means. It all starts with basic and fundamental changes within the education system. Five key strategies for developing teachers for inclusive education are outlined within this article. I found it really beneficial to ponder these strategies within my own context – education in Taiwan. Such reflection can give a fresh new perspective on your own practice of inclusion.

(See pp.16-17, Enabling Education Review, Issue 2, December 2013)

Create Your Own Inclusive Way

Researching my own solutions: interview with an inclusive teacher, Malaysia

This is one of my favourite articles. It looks at how one teacher started to reflect on her own approaches for developing effective inclusive practice within her context. Inclusive education is a process through which we keep improving and making adjustments according to students’ needs in order to provide the best quality learning support for all. This means teachers are also expected to improve and adjust their teaching bit by bit and develop their role as an educator. This article is a great example of how a teacher develops her own strategy throughout the process of supporting the student.

(See p.11, Enabling Education Review, Issue 2, December 2013)

Involve Different Voices

The role of people with disabilities in teacher training in Iraq

The author of this article says “The development of inclusive education should always be built on a foundation of participation by all key stakeholders – children, parents, teachers, decision-makers, donors, and of course representatives of marginalised groups.”

I found it amazing to see how adults with disability have partnered with teachers to build better skills in teaching. They have done this through sharing their own experiences of being disabled within education, and also by educating teachers about specific issues relevant to their lives, such as deaf adults teaching sign language to teachers.

(See p. 19, Enabling Education Review, Issue 2, December 2013)

Keep Connected

Developing resource centres for inclusive education in China

From this article I gained a new understanding about the role of the resource centre for the community. It is not only a place with resources and a place that provides support for children with special needs. A resource centre is more a place that keeps passing on the value of inclusion and developing sustainable systems that built up inclusive schools for all students. It can help move the fundamental structure of the education system forward toward inclusion.

(See pp. 20-21, Enabling Education Review, Issue 2, December 2013)

Look Back and Think

Assessing the inclusiveness of mainstream schools in Ghana

With all programmes and processes that aim to promote inclusive practice within educational or community settings, it is critical to look back on how well they have functioned in order to make sure the efforts are really helping children. This article explains about a monitoring tool that contains check lists to help schools self-assess their current practice of inclusive education, so they can reflect and improve.

(See pp. 26-27, Enabling Education Review, Issue 2, December 2013)

All five articles are available at http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/eenet_newsletter/eer2/index.php

Why not visit the site and read them now! 🙂

I-Jung Lu



Hello. Thanks for finding EENET’s blog!

What will we blog about?

Our blogs will all be related to education, inclusion, diversity, equality, etc – but will cover a wide range of topics. We will share practical and personal experiences and contribute to theoretical debates.

Who are our bloggers?

There will be a variety of people blogging here – EENET’s directors, consultants, volunteers, members and other invited authors.

Where else can you find EENET?

There are various places where you can stay in touch with EENET, and access the large collection of inclusive education information that we have available:


Enabling Education Review (our annual publication)