Leuven University College Teacher Education, associated with the University of Leuven
The Teacher College of Leuven started to use the Index in 2002 for short professional development sessions with teachers. A preliminary translation was used, since the full Dutch translation was not developed until 2007 in a Flemish and Dutch collaboration.
A ‘discussion game’ was developed, using the indicators for small group work in which participants needed to assemble as much evidence for each indicator in their school as possible, ‘earning’ an indicator only if no opposite example (barrier) was evident in their school.
In the beginning, we used the Trivial Pursuit game as a tool. It has tokens in six different colours, so tokens could represent the six sections of the Index. A token would be earned when the group agreed that enough indicators had been ‘earned’ for that section.
Other visualizations followed later, using the framework of the dimensions and sections as a summarizing overview of good examples as well as barriers and priorities for the participating school.
From 2006, a new postgraduate programme was introduced called Postgraduate School for All. This offers a 20 ECTS-study programme based on knowledge and experience of inclusive school development.
Students participate in five modules, starting with ‘Citizenship & Participation’, a basic module on the rights and aspirations of all learners as well as facilitators and barriers for inclusion. Diversity and ‘learners-at-risk’ are discussed as they are perceived in the schools of the participants in the programme.
Diversity can mean many things, but by using the Index for Inclusion as a first instrument and lens to identify barriers and good practices of inclusion, all participants start to refine the meaning of diversity and to grasp the overall impact of inclusion. Therefore the Index serves as the starting point of the programme, as it is introduced as a tool for discussion and exchange about everyone’s interpretations and questions on inclusion.
The indicators of the Index are randomly divided among the participants to discuss barriers and examples. At the end of the day, all participants summarize their view of inclusion using the dimensions of the Index.
Most of the students are working part-time in a school, often as colleagues or partners in the same school community. Students have at least 20 days of school practice, working on an assessment and action research project for inclusion. The main assignment for the postgraduate programme is a report on the overall inclusive dynamics of the school in relation to the Index dimensions, and in particular on a cluster of indicators that was chosen for action research. The Index serves as a tool for assessment and discussion, and finally as a tool for action research.
Most participants have appreciated working with the Index. They discovered its power to create ideas for policy and practice, while lifting the discussions and perhaps also the attitudes to a higher level of looking at learning and participation, instead of being forced to follow test scores and diagnoses. The external guidance and feedback from the Leuven University College was helpful in making choices and interpretations, and in taking further steps in the process.
Annet De Vroey
Bnb buitengewoon onderwijs I Teacher Education for Special Educational Needs
KHLeuven I University College Leuven