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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 9. “Where Is [_______]?”: Re-examining Values and How They Are Applied in Practice

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The development of inclusion within a school culture is a process of continued reflection, re-negotiation, and experience carried out over a sustained period of time (McMaster, 2015). This process involves persistence, and can be the site of dissonance both within and between individuals in the school community. The framework known as the Index for Inclusion provided a mechanism in which to channel that dissonance for proactive change. By the end of the year the service provision for students with “special needs” in the school was greatly altered. Staff were able to see the presence, or lack of presence, of members of the student body. Staff were also able to apply social justice interpretations of “inclusion” to other minoritised members of the school community (Berryman et al., 2010). The changes that took place were at the level of artefact, but also at the level of underlying assumptions and beliefs. This impacted the very culture of the school itself.

During the change process at McLean expectations altered as school community members became more aware of the relationship between values and ← 107 | 108 → practices. One small way this manifested itself was the expectation that all staff, including the previously isolated unit teacher, would be required to attend morning staff briefings. Staff briefings were the only time during the school day when all of the teaching staff were present in the same room. It was seen by senior management as more for socialising and bonding than for making official school announcements. School...

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