Mini guide to inclusion in early years

Everyone has the right to be treated equally without prejudice or discrimination. So how can you support this at nursery? 

Legislation has been introduced to address inequalities and discrimination and those that you need to be aware of are highlighted below. The principles of all anti-discrimination legislation are largely the same and aim to reduce inequalities and promote inclusion.

Inclusion is critical to the aims of delivering improved outcomes for all children and closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged children and others. It is ‘non negotiable’ in the sense that it respects and responds to children’s entitlements that are defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and a range of legislation in this nation.Child with hand on face


  • Equality Act 2010
  • Children and Families Act 2014
  • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Regulations 2014
  • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice 2014 (SEND)
  • The Children’s Act 1989
  • The Children’s Act 2004
  • The Childcare Act 2006
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Definition of inclusion

There are many definitions for inclusion, although they all have the same underlying principles. The word ‘inclusion’ was commonly used to describe the integration of disabled children into a setting.

However, this is now used in a wider context to cover all children including those who may be discriminated against or shown prejudice.

Early years settings must promote an inclusive environment in which every individual is fully accepted, respected and valued.

The colour of their skin, their gender, religion or belief, disability, social status or any other factor should not affect the way each person is valued. It is therefore important that practitioners work together effectively to positively promote inclusive values and principles in all aspects of caring for and educating children.

The Early Childhood Forum’s definition of inclusion is: “a process of identifying, understanding and breaking down barriers to participation and belonging.”

Good inclusive practice promotes managers and practitioners to reflect on how people feel. It involves the reduction of barriers and active participation and collaboration. Inclusive play enables a flexible, responsive approach where activities are planned with the needs of the children in mind and assessments being undertaken to aid progress. The sharing of expertise and partnership working is also key, including working with parents and agencies.

Find out more

Contact our training team for support on inclusion in your setting on 01484 407070 /

See all NDNA training