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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 8. “All It Needs is a Plan”: The Index in Use

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The utilisation of the Index for Inclusion in the school permitted the staff an opportunity to reassess how school values such as “caring and sharing” were exhibited through practice. Over the course of the year this practice was examined as part of the self-review process. The presence of a framework facilitated the exploration of deeper values and assumptions, and encouraged staff to collectively and individually explore the tension between values and beliefs, their reflection in artefact and practice, and how the understanding of inclusion was enacted and negotiated. As the Index for Inclusion played a key role in the change process at the subject school, the implementation of the Index will be examined in this chapter.

The Index process involves five phases in its planning cycle: getting started, finding out together, producing a plan, taking actions, and reviewing those actions. “Getting Started” first required explaining the Index process to the school leader, pointing out the collaborative nature of the approach, features that build ← 99 | 100 → on existing strengths and contribute to sustainability. As “inclusion” was a word William had heard previously but never fully sought to define, these meetings also involved discussion about the nature of the term. We explored diagrams, such as a large circle in the centre of the paper that represented the “norm” or “the mainstream.” A smaller circle outside of the larger one represented students with “special needs,” who can frequently find themselves on the “outside” or excluded. Additional small circles were added to...

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