Inclusion Matters 2022: Struggles with and for identity - insights from research and experiences

Friday 24th June, Gorton Monastery, Manchester

Are you concerned for those young people who see themselves, or are made to feel illegitimate in the world of education, an outsider, misfit, or the odd one out in school? Could you reimagine how school might become a place where the pressure to be identified, rehabilitated and conform to the dominant culture, can feel less overwhelming for all?

Feeling different, lonely, or out of place at school is reported by increasing numbers of young people with disabilities, special educational needs, those who are in care or are care leavers, who identify as trans or queer, and many more. These feelings can have a detrimental impact on some young people’s mental health, whilst others may occupy this space more confidently. According to the recent House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee report ‘Children and young people’s mental health’ (2021), NHS data suggests the mental health of children and young people in England has worsened since 2017, exacerbated by the recent pandemic, ubiquity of social media, peer pressure, schools’ expectations and drive for academic achievement and success.

Odd: feeling different in the world of education was a three-year research project that came out of these concerns. Despite decades of educational interventions around anti-bullying, inclusion and wellbeing agendas, some schools continue to be hostile environments for many children who fail to achieve ‘normality’ (Deschenes et al. 2001; Watson 2016). Discussing children on the Autistic Spectrum for example, Judith Hebron and Neil Humphrey (2014) note how the sense of ‘difference’ experienced may trigger emotional distress; other children often view them as ‘odd’, ‘strange’ or ‘weird’, and therefore prime candidates for bullying and teasing. Among young people, living with OCD, Carly Keyes and her colleagues (2018) found there was a strong sense of feeling ‘different’ and according to Mike Stein (1994) in a report called Leaving Care nearly all the young people reported feeling that they were the 'odd one out', the subject of curiosity, and of abuse.

Whilst honouring accounts that young people may (or may not) offer of feeling different, out of place or unpopular, this research did not focus on individuals who feel ‘odd’, but diversified the possibilities of how odd-ness might be encountered in school. 

This conference features the work of a research collective led by Rachel Holmes, a professor in the Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University. The collective included young people, teachers, parents, lunchtime organisers, caretaker, cleaners and researchers from art, anthropology and education. This day offers an opportunity for sharing our research insights with you in order to reimagine how school might become a place where the pressure to be identified, rehabilitated and conform to the dominant culture, can feel less overwhelming for all.

We can promise an energising and thought provoking day and we hope you will be able to join us.

For more information, full programme and speaker biographies click here

To book follow this link:

Booking Form



June 24, 2022 at 8:45am - 4:45pm
Gorton Monastery
89 Gorton Ln
Manchester M12 5WF
United Kingdom
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Teresa Regan ·