Educating All

Developing Inclusive School Cultures From Within

by Christopher McMaster (Author)
©2015 Textbook XXII, 180 Pages


This book contributes significantly to the conversation about inclusion as a critical component of school culture. Educating All recounts Christopher McMaster’s experience as a critical ethnographer in a school community, given the task of not only studying the institution’s culture, but of creating change as well. The school used a whole-school framework known as the Index for Inclusion, which addressed students identified as having «special» or learning needs. The outcome of this process was the realization that the faculty and the system were not adequately providing optimum services to «special needs» students. By incorporating the special needs unit into a larger department and by utilizing it as a teaching center rather than a classroom, the staff and school leadership were able to produce a better alignment of value and practice and to provide a re-interpretation of just what is meant by «mainstream».

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Acknowledgments
  • Part One. An Idea
  • Chapter 1. Special and Inclusive? A Model of Special Education
  • Chapter 2. What is in a Word? Exploring Inclusion
  • Chapter 3. The Utopian Roots behind Inclusion
  • Chapter 4. Neoliberalism in New Zealand Education
  • Chapter 5. A Fish in Water and a Peasant at a Dance: The Importance of Culture
  • Chapter 6. The Index for Inclusion
  • Part Two. A School
  • Chapter 7. Our School: A Place for Every Learner
  • Chapter 8. “All It Needs is a Plan”: The Index in Use
  • Chapter 9. “Where Is [_______]?”: Re-examining Values and How They Are Applied in Practice
  • Chapter 10. “That’s Easy—Just Do It”: Experiencing Inclusion
  • Chapter 11. Thinking through Inclusion: A School Leader’s Perspective
  • Chapter 12. Inclusion One School at a Time?
  • Note
  • References
  • Index
  • Series index

← viii | ix → FOREWORD

Suzanne Carrington

Queensland University of Technology

This book presents theoretical and practical information that will enhance educators’ and researchers’ understanding of inclusive education. Christopher McMaster draws on his research situated in one school in New Zealand to provide an overview of how a school can take a deep reflective look at the values that underpin the work at the school, and how those values can inform inclusive policy and practice. Inclusion is based on a commitment to key values that are constantly being questioned, discussed, changed, and developed in schools. These values apply to all students, and to all the policies, plans, and approaches used to support student learning. The development of inclusion involves making values explicit, understanding what they mean, and utilising them to inform practice. This book is a wonderful contribution to the field of inclusive education. For many years researchers have published a range of journal publications that involve case studies of school review and development that have been valuable for school leaders and researchers. Christopher’s book provides the details of the journey, which is engaging to read and can also inform our future research and practice. It is through processes of review, reflection, and change that schools develop the policies and practices that bring values to life and give them meaning for a school community.

← ix | x → Staff, students, and parents in inclusive schools cooperate and collaborate for the common good for all. People are respected and valued for their varied contributions in the school community; therefore there is an emphasis on democratic participation. The Index for Inclusion (Booth & Ainscow, 2011) is one resource that can support the range of stakeholders in a school to share values and develop a vision for a school. The Index for Inclusion is a tool to support school review and development and to engage staff, students, and parents in democratic ways. It was originally developed in 2000 at the Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education (CSIE) in England and provides a framework for action research in a school community. The Index can be used to engage stakeholders such as parents, students, teachers, and school staff in exploring what is going well in their school and what are the concerns that need to be addressed. It is a strength-based approach with a focus on celebrating what is going well and considering how things could be better for all in a school community. Gathering information from stakeholders, reflecting on that information, and then challenging the status quo can support a school community to develop a more inclusive school. The Index for Inclusion has been used in many countries around the world and New Zealand has a strong history of using this resource in school development. Christopher presents an overview of the Index for Inclusion and how its use can lead to change in numerous settings.

Christopher draws on his extensive school teaching experience and Ministry of Education experience across several countries and cultures to engage in, and report on, his school-based research. The chapters in this book take the reader on a journey to better understand the development and theory of inclusive schooling. Part One of the book explores the theoretical underpinnings of inclusive education and presents the history of the move from a deficit-based model of special education to a model of schooling informed by principles of social justice and a socially constructed nature of disability. These chapters will be very valuable for education students, scholars, and educators as the history is complex and usually not well understood, in my experience. A key principle for a better understanding of inclusive education is that we need to better understand how special education and inclusive education are different. School review and development involves change, and Christopher uses the work of the anthropologist Edward Hall to increase understanding of how change takes place within a model of culture. This part of the book also covers the story of special education and inclusive education in New Zealand.

← x | xi → Part Two of the book reports on one school’s experience of review and development that will improve the culture and practice for all who work and learn at the school. The Index for Inclusion has been used extensively around the world and there are many publications that report on its use. Christopher’s book provides an exceptional in-depth account of how this tool can be used in practical ways by a school that wants to move forward to embrace an inclusive approach. This part of the book demonstrates how the Index for Inclusion is used to re-examine the values and the change process involved in the Index process at the school. Language and culture are important considerations, and the discussion in these chapters highlights the need for in-depth reflection, dialogue, and planning. The role of the school leader is frequently raised in the literature about inclusive education. This book shares the insights from a school leader’s perspective in a way that will be useful for future leaders in schools. The final chapter shares the journey of the researcher and summarises lessons learnt from the research experience. This provides an excellent framework of ideas for future researchers and school leaders, teachers, and policy-makers working in the field of inclusive education.

I congratulate Christopher on this great book. I will look forward to using it in my own work in teacher preparation, inclusive education research, and international development for a more inclusive education for all.← xi | xii →

← xii | xiii → INTRODUCTION

At the beginning of the project that would eventually become this book, William, the principal of McLean High School, asked me to describe in 150 words (or preferably less) what I was in this project for. After realising he wanted those words at that moment and not submitted later as some sort of homework assignment, I said, “Well, I will have to go back a few years for that.” I told him a story about two young parents in the early ’90s who were speaking to a school principal much like he and I were speaking now, trying to find a place in the school for their daughter. The education process for children with special educational needs and their families can be a rough experience, I said. It can be a constant battle, even for simple acknowledgment. I told him that even though my children were now past school age, I was still fighting that battle. I wanted to help make schools better places, more welcoming and accommodating places, places that not only responded to individual needs but also celebrated the wealth of diversity found in the local community.

Almost two years later I looked out the window of my office at home and saw William walking down my drive. By this time we had grown to be good friends and trusted confidants, who would happily talk about chainsaws as well as policy. This morning, a week into the summer holidays, he had in one hand a bottle of wine and in the other a card. His shirt and tie was replaced by ← xiii | xiv → a cotton T-shirt and a fleece vest, his shiny shoes now rubber boots. After our usual hongi, a traditional greeting involving the rubbing of noses, I showed him around my office, a one-bedroom house on my property that I renovated between French philosophers and English activists. He liked the floor: native timber that I painstakingly brought to a rustic sheen. After previously drinking untold pots of coffee in his office, it was nice to walk him through mine. We toured my partner’s garden, which flourished, as did everything her green thumb touched. We talked about firewood, Labrador puppies, a grievance filed by a special needs unit teacher, summer weather. It was similar to many of our previous chats, except for the sense of transition, rather than ending. We were both moving on, and each direction had its own anticipation. At the end of our time together, we were both ready and equipped to face what was next.

After he left, I put the wine, a local white, in the fridge and I read his card. It began with a whakatauki, a Maori (indigenous New Zealand) proverb, and was followed by his own words, expressing his flair for metaphor:

E kore e miniti te puna whakamihi ki a koe.

Nau ano te waikeri i keri kia rere ai te wai!


XXII, 180
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (February)
inclusion special needs whole-school framework
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. XXII, 180 pp.

Biographical notes

Christopher McMaster (Author)

Christopher McMaster completed a PhD in education based on a critical ethnography of developing inclusive culture in an Aotearoa/New Zealand high school. He has lived and taught in several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, and New Zealand, as a regular and special educator as well as an advisor to schools.


Title: Educating All
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