Offsite 26 Nov 2019 Free

Rights to… brought together parents, carers, educators, activists, and artists to ask how we can create a network of support and solidarity and resist disability discrimination in the education system.

The Rights to… Forum brought together people who care about how and why children labelled with ‘special educational needs and disabilities’ are being failed by the education system. In the face of ongoing funding cuts, this event asked: How do we best come together to create a network of support and solidarity? How might adopting a rights approach improve experiences for children?

The Forum emerged from long term project Rights to… , commissioned by Serpentine Education and developed by artists Emma McGarry and Adam JB Walker in collaboration with parents, children and workers from the Portman Early Childhood Centre, North London. Rights to… centres the stories of how children labelled with ‘special educational needs and disabilities’ are failed, ignored and excluded by the education system.

The project is part of Changing Play, an ongoing partnership between the Serpentine and the Portman Early Childhood Centre, which brings together artists, children, families and educators to critically reconsider early years education and care.

The Forum included contributions from workers and parents from the Portman Early Childhood Centre, artist Adam J B Walker, disability rights campaigner Michelle Daley, disability activist David Ruebain, curator Yates Norton and researcher Katherine Runswick-Cole. This was followed by a workshop, where attendees could work through the questions and themes raised during the event in small groups.

Walker presented a sound piece made in collaboration with staff, parents and carers from the Portman Early Childhood Centre about their struggles with discrimination in the education system.

Writer and researcher Katherine Runswick Cole explored the important role that language plays in the lives of disabled children and considered the possibilities of engaging with the arts as a way of making injustice visible and to address inequality.

Disability rights activist David Ruebain and curator Yates Norton talked about interdependency as a form of resistance and the role of allyship; a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency and accountability.

Michelle Daley is interim Director at ALLFIE (The Alliance for Inclusive Education) and spoke about ALLFIE’s campaign for desegregated schooling and shared tools for change.


Curated by:

Alex Thorp, Curator, Education

Jemma Egan Assistant Curator, Education,

Joanna Slusarczyk, Assistant Curator, Education,


Rights to… Forum produced by:

Holly Shuttleworth


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