Multilingual Inclusion Policies for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in the UK

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Educational professionals globally and in the UK are encouraged to value diversity when it comes to languages, cultures, and disabilities and to implement a curriculum that promotes access to multiple languages and responds to the linguistic needs of pupils. At the same time, parents, teachers, and practitioners are reported to be hesitant when it comes to including children with a special educational need and disabilities (SEND) in multilingual school settings (Kay-Raining Bird et al., 2012; Marinova-Todd et al., 2016). Importantly, increasing evidence suggests that these children can flourish in bilingual settings (Drysdale et al., 2015; Ward & Sanoudaki, 2021), and enhancements may even be observed for social outcomes (Howard, Kastos & Gibson, 2019) and mental operations, including executive functioning (Andreou et al., 2020). Currently, it is unclear what policies exist regarding multilingualism across the four countries within UK schools and services, and if, or how, these policies are implemented. This review will synthesise and critically examine the policies that exist in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland and identify any literature that exists on how these policies are implemented. Findings reveal a current lack of clarity on how children with SEND should be included in multilingual educational settings. Policies rarely addressed the inclusion of children with a SEND in multilingual settings exclusively, and challenges were reported in implementing any such policies. With the increasing drive towards inclusivity, providing and implementing policies that reflect best practices when it comes to including children with a SEND in bilingual opportunities is paramount to ensuring evidence-based practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMulticulturalism and Multilingualism in Education: Implications for Curriculum, Teacher Preparation and Pedagogical Practice
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


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