In recognition that every child matters, inclusive education has become a practice that has been adopted by many schools across the globe and most usually in first world countries. As a whole-school system it occurs less frequently in developing countries including South Africa which, unlike many developing countries, has a sound infrastructure and many excellent schools in both the state and the independent sectors. ‘Education White Paper 6: Special education: Building an inclusive education and training system’ was published in 2001 with the express intention of developing an inclusive education system in South Africa. Some independent schools have successfully implemented exemplary forms of inclusion in their schools and this is the phenomenon that has been studied by focusing on the understandings and experiences of the principals. As the researcher I interviewed eight principals who are practicing inclusive education as the norm in their schools. This study reveals various aspects of the inclusive process including the pivotal role that principals play in the transformation process of which inclusive education is the harbinger. It also analyses why principals choose to embrace a paradigm that on the surface is uncomfortable and not an easy option. I used biographical narrative research as methodology for this qualitative research and crystallisation as quality strategy in order to study the phenomenon that is the understandings of principals of independent schools of inclusive education. The basic tenet was that inclusion leads to belonging and excellence in education. The major findings and implications for action are of interest not only to principals, but to anyone who is seriously interested in innovative and more humane forms of anti-oppressive education.