IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


HRH The Princess Royal opens international conference on inclusive education

3 August 2021

The ninth Inclusive and Supportive Education Conference (ISEC) returns today as a virtual conference, with Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal introducing the event and Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson providing the opening keynote address.

Child with parent at desk. Image: Gustavo Fring via Pexels

The leading international education conference is hosted by the Centre for Inclusive Education at UCL Institute of Education (IOE) in partnership with nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs). HRH is a patron of nasen and delivered the opening address.

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The conference, ‘Closing the Research to Practice Gap’, embodies knowledge exchange in practice, with a particular focus on evidence-informed inclusive practice in education. Young people and their families will be taking part in ISEC 2021 to share their perspectives, joining wider academics, students, teachers, educational psychologists and health and education professionals.

New perspectives on how educators can translate academic enquiry into practical, workable strategies to support the lives of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will be explored over the three-day conference (3-5 August). 

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said: “I am delighted to be speaking at ISEC 2021. The conference brings parents, teachers and researchers together under one ‘virtual’ roof and gives participants a great opportunity to share insights, experiences and best practice, to benefit children and young people living with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). 

“Among the themes being explored is the impact of COVID-19 on pupils with SEND and what urgently needs to be done to ensure that no child loses out as a result of the pandemic. I am looking forward to being part of this valuable and dynamic event.”  

The conference will hear from a wide range of experts from across the world who will discuss the interrelationship between researchers, educational practitioners and parents examining the unique role each has in applying theory to practice, creating environments for a lasting and positive change. 

Keynote speakers include Dr Lyman, Dukes of the University of South Florida exploring trends in transition for students with disabilities; Dr Barbara Hong, Texas A&M International University delving into the critical power of family partnerships and Professor Sigamoney Naicker of the National Commission for Education Support Services in South Africa who will discuss social justice in the developing world.

Professor Adam Boddison, Chief Executive of nasen, said: “It’s a real honour for nasen to be hosting this significant and high-profile event once more with our partner UCL. For years now, ISEC has played host to international knowledge mobilisation and exchange across communities of practice and with all those who share our passion for promoting inclusive education. 

“Here at nasen, we are extremely proud to be right at the heart of this debate. We look forward to welcoming academics, practitioners, policy makers, children and young people with SEND and families from across the world to put inclusion at the forefront at this critical time.”

Gill Brackenbury, Director of UCL Centre for Inclusive Education, said: “After the challenges of the last 18 months, UCL Centre for Inclusive Education is delighted to partner nasen in presenting ISEC 2021. Although we cannot come together in London as originally planned, the online conference promises to be an exciting and engaging experience. With more than 200 presenters from 30 countries sharing their research and insights, ISEC retains its place at the centre of the debate around Special Educational Needs and Disabilities .”

The event, which attracts on average more than 500 visitors worldwide, typically runs every five years and is hosted by a different country. ISEC 2021 follows on from the Inclusion and Equity themed conference in 2015, which took place in Lisbon.



Gustavo Fring via Pexels