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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 11. Thinking through Inclusion: A School Leader’s Perspective

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The ability of the school community to co-create meaning through experience and reflection highlights the potentiality of developing inclusive schools. An important ingredient in that co-creation is leadership committed to building inclusive cultures (Ainscow, 2008; Cavanagh, 2008; New Zealand Education Review Office, 2010; MacArthur, 2009). This chapter is the story of the experience of one school leader committed to fostering inclusive values and practices within his school. Utilising the Index for Inclusion as a framework for change the school leader was given the ability to direct the change process, support the dissonance created when older beliefs and values were questioned, and maximise the time required for staff to reflect on key ideas and current practice. Additional benefits included incidental learning that the ongoing dialogue encouraged. This experience also indicated potential inhibitors to inclusive change that school leaders would have to work within or around in order to foster inclusion in their schools.

The stated aim of Special Education 2000 was the creation of a “world class inclusive education system” (New Zealand Ministry of Education, 1996, p. 5). In 2010 the Education Review Office (ERO) was tasked with assessing progress towards that goal. In their report, the ERO noted that a vital ← 137 | 138 → ingredient was committed and ethical leadership on the part of principals and SENCOs at the schools they researched (New Zealand Education Review Office, 2010). Timperley and colleagues (2007) presented research supporting the crucial role played by educational leaders in building capacity for school development. School...

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