Transforming Cultures and Practices: Recreation Road Infant School, Norwich
Being part of this project excited us at Recreation Road as we had used the original Index for Inclusion for evaluating provision, particularly for pupils deemed to have 'special educational needs' and we had always appreciated its approach. The Index matched our school’s work on using values-led learning and development and so right from the start the initial chapters had great resonance with our ethos.
Our first action was to establish a school-based working party drawing on a wide range of people: parents, teaching assistants, governors, leadership team and teaching staff. This group met regularly to establish how we wished to use the Index materials and to ensure its principles in action: inclusion.
Being part of the Working Group on the development of the revised Index for Inclusion meant that we kept returning to the documentation and became more and more familiar with it. The Index materials were referred to during staff meetings, Governors’ meetings and shared with colleagues at Cluster meetings. It started to become one of our tools for school self-evaluation.
The Index for Inclusion can be perceived as an overly thorough toolkit, however, it is precisely its holistic approach that is its strength. It does need careful handling and time taken to really focus down on areas that you wish to analyse.
At Recreation Road we used the questionnaires in the Index to evaluate current practice.
The questions we asked ourselves used the Index indicators as a framework as well as a checklist for evaluating provision and practice:
- Was our enquiry-based curriculum inclusive? (C2.2)
- How effective was our Induction Programme? (B1.5)
- Were our Governors effective in dealing with issues of inclusion? (A1.6)
- Do staff feel valued? (B1.4)
Each time we used an indicator we were able to learn better about asking the right questions and using the materials to their best effect. With this in mind we decided to use two dimensions of the Index - “Creating Inclusive Cultures” and “Evolving Inclusive Practices” - as part of our long term study of 16 families’ experience of Recreation Road Infant School.
Questionnaires and interviews were drawn up from these areas to help provide feedback from parents/carers and pupils, to affect policy and practice and to provide evidence of our current work to promote inclusion.
The long term study started in 2011-2 and will run for the three years that the families are with us. Already we have been able to gauge the value of our Induction process and what we can do to improve this next year.
The Index for Inclusion provides a holistic values-led approach to school self-evaluation, really getting to the heart of school culture, policy and practice. It has, and will, allow us to look at our behaviours, attitudes and beliefs in a way that will support change and improvement for all.