Press releases

Press release: Research into experiences of Black/Global Majority Disabled pupils uncovers systemic injustice and intersectional erasure

25 April 2023: For immediate release

Illustrated image of the report ‘Lived Experience of Black/Global Majority Disabled Pupils and their Families in Mainstream Education by ALLFIE, April 2024. The image is designed in the style of Kente cloth, which originated in West Africa. It features a square design divided into six equal sections, three at the top and three at the bottom. The top middle section reads “The Intersection of Race and Disability” is surrounded by a series of step-like symbols. Top left section reads “Address Trauma from Separation” and shows four small illustrations of Black/Global Majority People experiencing trauma through being separated. In the top right section, reads “Choice and Control – Fund DPOs – Advocacy for EHCPs” and small illustrations of two people creating a plan, a bag of money, a person thinking “my support” and a task list. Bottom left reads “Diversify Workforce, Diversify Curriculum” and shows small illustrations of a person reading against a rainbow map of the world, and three Black/Global majority Disabled people. The bottom middle section reads “Cross Movement Campaigns, Educational Justice and Data” and shows illustrations of different people doing different activities, i.e. reading a screen, speaking, childcare with love, hugging, playing the guitar. The bottom right section reads “collaborations between movements, disability justice – racial justice” and shows an illustration of a hand holding a protest banner with a wheelchair symbol on it, next to this is two hands doing sign language and a head showing a brain.

Research into lived experience of Black/Global Majority Disabled pupils and their families uncovers systemic injustice and intersectional erasure in mainstream education.

Research findings released today emphasise the need for radical collaborative efforts between the Disabled Peoples Movement and the Racial Justice Movement, to dismantle oppressive structures and amplify the voices of Black/Global Majority Disabled children and young people within mainstream educational settings. The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) has launched a research report on ‘The Lived Experiences of Black/Global Majority Disabled Pupils and their Families in Mainstream Education’. This explores crucial aspects such as placement, participation, support, and staff attitudes, and recognises failings in these areas as a critical social justice issue.

The research found that there is inadequate support for Black/Global Majority Disabled pupils and their families in terms of advocacy, peer support to share information and provide clarity on entitlement and help to empower them and protect children’s right to mainstream education. The report’s key recommendations demand cross-movement collaboration and activism to end segregation and marginalisation, acknowledging the trauma caused, and services and support made available to address the intersections of race and disability for Black/Global Majority Disabled children and young people and their families. Additionally, the recommendations confront the lack of representation of Black/Global Majority Disabled people in the curriculum and highlight issues of choice and control over support teaching assistants. The report also advocates for increased representation in the workforce and curriculum and, most significantly, urges implementing practices to give children and young people choice and control over their support services, ensuring their autonomy and dignity.

This research is rooted in social justice principles reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) regarding Inclusive Education, an intersectional approach, lived experiences, and the social model of disability. It was resourced by the Runnymede Trust and produced by a collective of Black/Global Majority Disabled individuals, including Dr Navin Kikabhai, ALLFIE Chairperson, who stated:

“We envision this research as a powerful tool to drive the campaign for inclusive education forward, ensuring that no one is left behind. Our collective social justice efforts must confront intersectional erasure head-on.”

Research data was collected via focus group interviews with Disabled young people/children aged 11-16, and parents of Black / Global Majority Disabled pupils/young people. Analysis discovered there is inadequate support in terms of advocacy, peer support to share information and provide clarity on entitlement, help to empower them and protect children’s right to mainstream education.

Children and young people told us that they would like:

  1. Better choice and control over their support, to be better able to join in and participate in the range of school activities and opportunities.
  2. An end to the separation of Black/Global Majority Disabled pupils and recognition of their proud intersectional experiences, not ones based on deficit.
  3. To have a say in writing school rules and policy, to coproduce practise and build a sense of belonging.

Parents highlighted concerns including:

  1. Little support and limited or no choice about where and how their children are educated.
  2. Excessive use of disciplinary procedures and practices of surveillance towards Disabled pupils and Black children that result in negative consequences or exclusion.
  3. Difficulties navigating an education system that is complex and often overlooks intersectional experiences of disability and race.
  4. The current lack of support makes it hard to address any tensions around the intersections between disability and race when navigating the education system.

Report Recommendations:

  • Improve understanding and recognition of intersectional identities.
    Increase the representation of Black/Global Majority Disabled pupils within the education setting and social justice work.
  • Tackle the trauma experienced through grouping and separation.
    Encourage work in schools to address the effects and trauma caused by segregation on all pupils.
  • Promote independence, choice and control in EHCPs.
    Develop advocacy support to ensure EHCPs achieve independent living and human rights of Black/Global Majority Disabled pupils.
  • Challenge negative attitudes and promote positive representation.
    Diversify the teaching workforce, profile more diverse identities in school and promote learning about intersections between disability and racial justice.
  • Expose harmful disciplinary procedures and surveillance.
    Build a campaign between disability and racial justice organisations to highlight and end disciplinary procedures that lead to exclusion and discrimination of young people.
  • Challenge segregation, promote participation.
    Highlight school intake discriminatory practices affecting Black/Global Majority Disabled pupils, showcase practical and applied solutions that demonstrate how inclusive education can and does work elsewhere.

Collaborative Co-production

On the process and production, ALLFIE’s Director, Michelle Daley, stated:

“The writing of this report was made possible through unity and collective action of activists committed to inclusive education as a human rights issue for everyone. ALLFIE extends its gratitude to the children and their families, ALLFIE’s Disabled Black Lives Matter, staff, Trustees, The Runnymede Trust for resourcing the research, every radical body and mind who contributed from the initiation to completion of this necessary endeavour.”

Notes to editors:

  1. For media enquires email:
  2. ALLFIE is a Disabled People’s Organisation which campaigns for inclusive education for Disabled people. ALLFIE is a unique voice. Formed in 1990, we are the only organisation led by Disabled people focused on campaigning and information-sharing on education, training and apprenticeship issues. We campaign for the right of all Disabled pupils and students to be fully included in mainstream education, training and apprenticeships with all necessary supports.
  3. The report was written by Dr Navin Kikabhai, Dr Themesa Y Neckles, Tasnim Hassan, Michelle Daley, Saâdia Neilson, Iyiola Olafimihan, and Okha Walcott-Johnson for the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE). Funded by the Runnymede Trust and supported by Disabled Black Lives Matter.