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Inclusion as Ethics, Equity and/or Human Rights? Spotlighting School Mathematics Practices in Scotland and Globally

Swanson, D. M.; Yu, Hong Lin; Mouroutsou, Stella


Hong Lin Yu

Stella Mouroutsou


Mathematics education has been notoriously slow at interpreting inclusion in ways that are not divisive. Dominant views of educational inclusion in school mathematics classrooms have been shaped by social constructions of ability. These particularly indelible constructions derive from the perceived hierarchical nature of mathematics and the naturalised assumption that mathematisation is purely an intellectual exercise. Constructions of ability, therefore, emanate from the epistemic structures of mathematics education as predominantly practiced worldwide, and the prevalence of proceduralism and exclusion in those practices. Assumptions about 'ability' have become a truth to mathematical aptitude held by mathematics teachers in schools. This includes schools across Scotland. In Scotland, the government owes the 'included pupil' a legal obligation to provide additional support for learning under section 1(1) of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004. However, classroom practices deployed around socially-constructed notions of ability have seen schools moving away from an emphasis on 'additional' to an expansive interpretation of 'different from' in the language of section 1(3)(a) of the Act 2004. This shift, therefore, reinstalls exclusionary effects to school mathematics practices by creating the conditions for some pupils, constructed in terms of disabilities or low ability, to be afforded a more inferior education than others. While philosophical conversations around whether these practices are ethical, egalitarian or democratic might ensue, there is also the human rights angle, which asks whether such practices are even lawful.


Swanson, D. M., Yu, H. L., & Mouroutsou, S. (2017). Inclusion as Ethics, Equity and/or Human Rights? Spotlighting School Mathematics Practices in Scotland and Globally. Social Inclusion, 5(3), 172-182.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 23, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 26, 2017
Publication Date Sep 26, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 7, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 7, 2022
Journal Social Inclusion
Electronic ISSN 2183-2803
Publisher Cogitatio Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 3
Pages 172-182
Keywords ability; Additional Support Needs; classroom practices; education; equality; equity, inclusion, law; mathematics; policy; school; social construction; streaming
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