The Index – a guidebook for inclusive development
The Index for Inclusion: Developing learning and participation in schools offers a supportive process of self-review and development as an alternative to one based on inspection, competition and fear of failure. It provides an opportunity to develop a school or other setting in collaboration with others in accordance with shared principles. It can be drawn upon in many different ways. It helps to clarify thinking and prompt individual and collective action as well as structure whole setting and community educational development. It is being used by individual teachers and practitioners, by non-teaching staff, by parents/carers and governors and managers. It can prompt new ideas about what children might learn and how teaching and learning can best be supported.
The materials are designed to build on the wealth of knowledge and experience of staff, children, young people and their families about the nature of their setting and how it can be improved. The process of working with the Index allows these rich resources to be shared and to make a difference. It is a comprehensive document that can help everyone to find their own next steps in developing a setting. However inclusive a setting is thought to be currently, the Index can be used to support the unending processes involved in developing learning and participation for all and reducing all exclusionary pressures.
Like a guidebook to a city or a country, the Index enables people to select the places that they wish to visit immediately, but leaves open the possibility of a return trip to explore other places. It is a comprehensive guide to assist people to work together to decide what they want to develop next, draw up a plan and carry it out. At the heart of the Index are many hundreds of questions any one of which might become the start of extended reflection and provoke further questions and answers. Just as some people may just land up in a new place and then start to explore, so people can find a part of the Index that interests them, perhaps even a single question, and spread their enquiries and action from there.
Using the Index is not an additional initiative but a way of improving schools according to inclusive values. It can be used as the means to shape development planning and school improvement. It is not an alternative to raising achievements but is concerned with all the achievements of all children, promoted through collaboration and attention to the learning and teaching environment. It encourages active learning in which children integrate what they are taught with their own experience and engage with the realities of their worlds. It is a practical document, inviting reflection on what inclusion might mean for all aspects of schools: in staffrooms, classrooms, playgrounds, in relationships within the school and with families and communities. It can sustain development because of the importance it gives to changes in cultures.