Special Educational Needs Categorisation Systems: To be labelled or not?

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This paper explores the debatable usefulness of the categorisation of Special Educational Needs considering evidence from the literature. Classification systems of SEN are discussed through a brief historical review. In addition, the language of special education and the potential consequences of such a classification and labels are explored. Also, strengths and limitations of the continuous use of the traditional categories and labels as well as the extent of their usefulness in the wider context of inclusive education are examined. The main purpose is not to simply blame SEN labels as causes of discrimination, marginalisation and stigmatisation but to more broadly examine their usefulness. The article concludes with a discussion of possible solutions and future implications.


  • Special Educational Needs
  • Classification
  • Labelling
  • Stigmatisation


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