The Hare and the Tortoise: a comparative review of the drive towards inclusive education policies in England and Cyprus
SourceInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
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This paper explores the process of policy formulation and implementation in relation to children commonly described as having ‘special educational needs’ and disability (SEND), in Cyprus and in England. Drawing on qualitative research evidence from key primary documentary sources including legislation, statutory and non-statutory guidance and reports, it provides a comparative analysis of the content and the spirit of policy in both countries over the cycle of a century. The findings indicate that Cypriot policymakers have engaged in a process of ‘policy snatching’ from England, following four phases: charitable segregation and categorisation; enlightened legitimisation and categorisation; integration, ‘special educational needs’ and categorisation; inclusion, SEND and categorisation. Using the analogy of Aesop’s well-known fable ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’, the paper concludes that England, symbolically characterised as the hare, appears, overtly at least, to have moved ahead; while Cyprus, characterised as the tortoise, has been following slowly behind. However, progress has been slow in both countries, and the hare may well have fallen asleep. It is argued that whilst some common ground exists between the two countries, there is an inherent danger in transplanting selected elements of policy texts from one socio-cultural historical context to another.