In November 2003, the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) commissioned the SCRE Centre at the University of Glasgow to evaluate the impact of Section 15 of the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000. The evaluation took place between January 2004 and August 2005. A major strand of the research was the impact of the presumption of mainstreaming on special schools, including an exploration of the changing role of special schools, and the changing demands on staff in special education. The evidence presented in this paper suggests that whilst there may be widespread support for specialist provision within a policy climate of inclusion, the sector has undergone significant changes in the last few years. These changes have had a particular impact on the curriculum, teaching and learning, and ‘specialness’ of special schools. However, not all of these changes are due to the impact of mainstreaming.