Do educational support policies always favour overcoming inequalities? The situation in Spain
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Early school leaving (ESL) is a serious concern for education authorities in many countries such as Spain. This investigation is aimed at identifying the weak points of educational support policies and making proposals to strengthen them. The article reviews more than 40 documents, including state-level and regional-level laws and regulations about educational support. The analysis of the legal framework was based on three relevant axes for the educational support configuration: support needs attribution, support strategies and agents of support. These three axes shed light on how education policies can prevent education systems from guaranteeing inclusive education. Findings show the need to de-assign the individual attribution of needs that remains directly or indirectly underpinned by Spanish regulations. Regarding support strategies, policies should foster learning acceleration rather than adaptive and low expectation strategies. Finally, more legal guidance is needed to scaffold support agents' real involvement. Points of interest Despite having high rates of early schooling, Spain is not among those countries that have lower rates of early school leaving (ESL). The implementation of support measures is key to overcoming inequalities. This review of education policies found that the guidelines addressed to Spanish schools include statements that are ambiguous or contradict the inclusion principles. This article provides a useful framework for schools and policymakers to analyse policies and guidelines regarding educational support based on how these address students' needs, strategies and measures implemented, and all the people involved. The analysis of Spanish official documents shows a tendency to attribute learning difficulties to the students themselves, especially when they are diagnosed with any disability. Support policies are crucial to promote inclusive educational support. However, support guidelines are still influenced by clinical models, over reliance on curricular adaptation and student segregation.