The role of teacher agency in promoting inclusion in a Chinese primary school

Xiao Qu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


The physical and educational exclusion of children with special educational needs and disabilities from effective and relevant education is a persisting issue in Chinese schools. To move beyond ‘lazy inclusivism’ and support authentic change towards inclusive education, this paper explores the wisdom of Chinese educators and investigates how inclusion can be interpreted and practised through a qualitative study in an inclusive urban school in East Coast China. The headteacher and eight teachers were interviewed. The findings give voice to teachers and highlight the importance of understanding inclusion in its broad sense as respecting and valuing all members of the school community. Specific strategies were also shared by participants such as parental involvement, teacher training, themed campus décor, emphasis on rich extra-curriculum activities, and the innovation of ‘micro-semester’. Through analysing teachers’ reported ‘successful’ experiences in inclusion, the discussions explore how these teachers exercise agency to actively promote inclusion despite structural constraints. The paper analyses teachers’ interpretations and practical strategies in an inclusive school from the perspective of teacher agency and contributes to building up a strong base of empirical evidence that enriches the concept and facilitates the implementation of inclusive education in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-772
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Disability, Development and Education
Issue number6
Early online date15 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • community building
  • disabilities
  • inclusion for all
  • inclusive education
  • lazy inclusivism
  • special educational needs
  • structural constraints
  • teacher agency


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