AbstractThe University of Manchester, Peter Grimes, PhD, September 30th 2011Title: 'It's Better Than Catching Frogs: Exploring Inclusion in relation to Local Context and Knowledge in Lao PDR and Thailand' This thesis examines the applicability of pre-dominantly Western theories of inclusive school development in countries of the Global South. Firstly, the findings of a review of research literature are used to develop a typology to describe the common features of inclusive schools, incorporating ways in which they might be supported. This typology was then used to explore the ways in which schools in the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Thailand developed inclusive practices. Engagement with school systems in these countries over a period of six years between 2003 and 2009 provided opportunities to work at several different levels with schools that in some way defined themselves as being 'inclusive'. Using data generated through field work with schools in an Inclusive Education Project in Laos and one school in Thailand, tensions were identified between the theoretical framework and my initial research findings. A revision of the typology was undertaken, drawing on a wider literature to take account of additional factors such as local and national culture and the impact of the policy context in these countries. The researcher often had the role of consultant, creating tensions in the way he constructed his position and also in the schools' response. Reflecting on these tensions became a productive process in terms of understanding the factors which effectively promoted the development of inclusion in these different contexts. In particular, the process highlighted the relatively neglected significance of local context and knowledge and the way in which these factors impact on inclusive school development. In order to explore these issues in greater detail, further research was then undertaken in one school in Laos, creating a case study developed over four years. This detailed engagement revealed more clearly the limits of typologies in general and of Western theories in particular. Whilst they may offer a lens for examining inclusive school development they do not 'adequately' account for variable factors rooted in the local context. In conclusion, policy initiatives designed to support the development of more inclusive schools must allow for the creation of space at local levels for meanings to be constructed which will support teachers in developing their own sense of agency and making changes in their practice of which they have ownership.