Browsing my way through the book exhibitors’ tables at the European Conference on Educational Research in Copenhagen last year, I was stopped in my tracks by a title on the Routledge table: Inclusion is Dead. Long Live Inclusion. The absence of information about its contents on the back outside cover witheld clues about its contents. Purchasing the last copy on display, I found a chair nearby, set my bag down beside me and commenced reading. To their credit, the authors Peter Imray and Andrew Colley stake their claim at the outset:

The fundamental premise of this book is that educational inclusion, despite a constantly changing and liquid definition, has not been achieved in any country under any educational system despite some 30 years of trying. It was no doubt a valiant and laudable attempt to ensure justice and equity but its failure must now be addressed. Inclusion has become a recurring trope of academic writing on education; it is trotted out as an eternal and unarguable truth, but it is neither. It doesn’t work, and it never has worked. Inclusion is dead. 1

To be sure, in some quarters inclusive education has had the life sucked out of it. Again, we return to Edward Said’s dictum about travelling theories losing their insurrectionary zeal as they are popularised. They are, he says, “tamed and domesticated”. 2 “When I look at the world”, 3 democracy too has its feet up in the air – corrupted as it is by the global populist surges of the far right. Still, let us not walk away from democracy or inclusive education just yet. Both are worth fighting for. They have a basis in principles that retain utility for a troubled and troubling world. They, democracy and inclusive education, are of course linked. Bernstein 4 identifies inclusion as a prerequisite for a democratic education. As was his way, he pursues precision by stipulating that inclusion is not a simile for absorption, it is not assimilation. Imray and Colley could apply a more careful analysis before 82arriving at their diagnosis and withdrawing life support. As Jody Carr, a Minister in the government of the province of New Brunswick in Canada, stated at an inclusive education conference in Sydney recently, “When people tell me inclusive education doesn’t work, I tell them that that’s because it’s not inclusive education”.