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Educating All

Developing Inclusive School Cultures From Within


Christopher McMaster

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».
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Chapter 1. Special and Inclusive? A Model of Special Education

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This chapter looks at the special education model known as Special Education 2000 (SE2000). Behind school systems established to serve the needs of students with “special needs” lies a model of “special education.” The school is part of a national education system, including a model for the provision of services for students who have been labelled and identified as having “special educational needs.” “Policy is not neutral,” wrote Thomas and Loxley (2007): “The social categorization of children and young adults as somehow being ‘special’ is constructed in and legitimized through the kind of policies that ‘speak’ about them.… It is very much a signifier for underlying social relations of power” (p. 94).

The supports built up around a school’s most vulnerable population are no doubt done with the best intentions. This support is used by schools to finance special education provision, including units, unit teachers, and the teacher aides working in those units. Whereas SE2000 ostensibly sought to create an equitable provision of services (New Zealand Ministry of Education, 1996), it did not break from the “politics of identity” (G. Thomas & Loxley, 2007). The identity given to the students of the unit in order for funds to be acquired to enable their presence in school also sets them apart from their peers and the ← 3 | 4 → majority of teachers at the school. The complexity of the system of funding and resource allocation additionally creates an aura of mystery around that part of the educational system, a complexity...

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