Since 2006, 161 countries around the world have signed up to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and are embracing the criteria listed in Article 24 (Education) which recognises the 'right of persons with disabilities to education' and to 'ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning'. 

With such changes in education law, it is gradually becoming more commonplace for children with Down syndrome around the world to attend community playgroups and nurseries, local mainstream schools and to join in social activities with typically developing siblings and friends. In addition, more young adults with Down syndrome are gaining qualifications and experiences and thereby succeeding in a wide variety of ordinary jobs.

The vast majority of children with Down syndrome will benefit from placement in a local mainstream school, receiving their education alongside typically developing peers of their own age. Research indicates that children with Down syndrome placed in the mainstream do at least as well if not better than children of similar ability in special schools. Regular opportunities to learn, interact and play alongside typically developing peers gives children with Down syndrome the role models they will need to encourage them to develop age-appropriate behaviour and sustain relationships. Placement in a school within their local community will also provide the opportunity to make friends with children they will see outside school.

While support may be required to facilitate learning, successful inclusion promotes independence. Although the demands of the curriculum may increase as the child gets older, they should progressively be more able to function as ordinary members of the school community, with help or support as and when needed.

Inclusive education benefits not only the child with Down syndrome, but also leads to greater understanding and less prejudice in the local community and ultimately in society at large. Children in inclusive schools learn to become more tolerant and patient and to support each other. They also learn to value diversity and to appreciate that everyone has something to bring to the life of the school.