Inclusion-exclusion: The contribution of health education and health educational research


Research in health education can lead to a better understanding of problems when it comes to children’s well-being and academic performance. It can also contribute to the establishment of criteria related to the school environments that support rather than undermine children’s wellbeing as well as learning. The foundation in a critical socio-ecological approach to health promotion and education, and the centrality of research topics such as school wellbeing, quality of life, and inequalities in health, call for research that links school wellbeing with learning and everyday school life, and quality of life with quality of schools.


Education is a principal factor in social cohesion and inclusion, and an effective agent of change in social transformation. But the growing emphasis on competitiveness in schools can also be seen as a principal factor in differentiation processes leading to inequity and exclusion. Wellbeing and health are described as both a goal and a means in educational policy; most often as a means to achieve learning. Socio-economic factors such as family affluence, as well as the existence of, or lack of, a supportive school environment, have a bearing on social inequalities affecting both children’s health and learning. Yet health education/health promotion activities often mainly address health and well-being problems as individual problems, defining the role of pupils as learning to ‘cope’ with problems, rather than taking part in addressing the challenges causing the problems. The approaches schools take to mitigate or prevent health and well-being problems can result in both inclusion and exclusion of vulnerable groups of children in schools. In particular, the increasing numbers of pupils with immigrant roots present educational systems with a political challenge, as these pupils are often susceptible to reduced well-being and academic performance. Other examples of marginalized groups relative to the inclusion agenda in schools are children who are vulnerable due to, for example, sexual identities, socio-economic, cultural or religious background. Research in health education can lead to a better understanding of these challenges and contribute to their overcoming on a structural rather than individual level. The socio-critical ecological approach to health promotion and education, and the centrality of research topics such as quality of life, and inequalities in health and well-being, call for health education research that engages with these issues.

With reference to the general ECER 2018 Call to reflect on and analyse the particular contributions of education and educational research to processes and structures of inclusion and exclusion, Network 8, Research on Health Education, invites research submissions that include but are not limited to themes such as:

  • How has health/wellbeing education research engaged with inclusion-exclusion issues in schools?
  • Which educational approaches do educational systems employ when addressing social cohesion and inclusion-exclusion issues?
  • How do school reforms play into processes and structures of inclusion and exclusion in schools, and particularly, how do school reforms affect immigrant pupils’ vulnerabilities??
  • What is the position of research in exploring transformative approaches to health education, and in framing health and well-being issues as political?
  •  What are the potentials of transdisciplinary research and research methodologies and approaches when it comes to alternative perceptions of health and well-being and of what a good life and society means?

We encourage authors to consider the variety of submission formats, including papers, research workshops, round tables, posters, pecha kuchas, video presentations and symposia. We particularly invite symposia presenting research and debate from at least three European countries. Collaborative sessions with other EERA networks are also welcome.

Contact person(s)

Monica Carlsson (

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  • school development;
  • school-based health promotion;
  • health education curriculum;
  • participation and learning;
  • health and wellbeing;
  • professional development;
  • IT and health education

Interview with Convenor at ECER 2011