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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 6. The Index for Inclusion

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The Index for Inclusion is the most widely used and research-validated whole-school framework in the world today.1 This in itself does not make it the only choice for school reform. School communities around the world are experimenting with culture audits, indicators, and whole-school programmes as the link between the culture of a school and the successful implementation of inclusion is more strongly embedded in the consciousness of the international community. Schools are attempting to restructure their service provision and internal systems within the constraints imposed from outside. They are now in a better position to recognise aspects of our educational systems, national policies, and societal values when they act as barriers to inclusive practices, and they are strong enough to try new methods.

The ground is fertile for what Thomas (1997) referred to as, “the implementation of planned programmes of inclusion” (p. 106), and what Dewey referred to as “method.” Indeed, the opportunity presented today through whole-school approaches towards inclusive change can be the means to build sustainable inclusive practices and values in our schools.

Wide usage throughout the world has encouraged revisions to the Index to make its language and framework more accessible. Writing in 2001, Index developers Booth and Black-Hawkins (2001) reflected on that as being a key feature:

There isn’t a version of the Index which is the authorised version—an Index is created in the process of translating it to a particular setting. An Index is what each learning centre,...

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