Inclusion in the Index is a principled approach to the development of education and society. It is linked to democratic participation within and beyond education. It is concerned with bringing coherence to activities to support educational development so that they all encourage the learning and participation of everyone: children and their families, staff and governors and other community members.
It is not a theoretical notion divorced from practical reality but a way of reflecting on competing possibilities for education at all levels so that deciding on action becomes easier. Many people find that their own notion of inclusion becomes clearer as they engage with the practical starting points of the Index, its indicators and questions.
Inclusion can be understood as a set of three linked, unending processes to do with the participation of individuals: the creation of settings, systems (procedures, policies and laws) that encourage participation; and with putting particular ‘inclusive’ values into action. All three are about everyone, adults, children and young people, rather than about a particular group of children.
Increasing the participation and reducing the exclusion of all
Inclusion is concerned with increasing participation in cultures, communities and educational activities. But it is as much concerned with families and with staff in education settings as it is with children. We cannot see how support for the participation of children can be embraced to any great extent if the adults who work with them have no say in decisions about their working lives.
Increasing the capacity of settings and systems to respond to diversity in ways that value everyone equally
We will never get very far with inclusion if we think only in terms of overcoming the exclusionary pressures on particular individuals. We also have to think about creating settings that encourage participation and reduce discrimination and exclusion. We can think of diversity as difference within a common humanity, so all groups are diverse. Diversity is about all of us rather than ‘the others’. We stress the idea that inclusion involves according individuals equal respect and value, since responses to diversity can create inequality and exclusion, through processes of selection on the basis of attainment, disability, religion and wealth. Inclusion is therefore linked to the development of education for all in a community, in nursery, primary and secondary schools.
Putting inclusive values into action
Inclusion is not a fashion or a fad though some people think of it like that. We connect it to deep seated beliefs or values which explain why we have an interest in promoting it. We have gradually created a framework or universe of values which offer a sense of direction for education and an answer to the age old philosophical question: how should we live together
– in our societies and our schools?
Some features of the approach to inclusion in the Index are summarised below.
- Putting inclusive values into action.
- Viewing every life and every death as of equal worth.
- Supporting everyone to feel that they belong.
- Increasing participation for children and adults in learning and teaching activities, relationships and communities of local schools.
- Reducing exclusion, discrimination, barriers to learning and participation.
- Restructuring cultures, policies and practices to respond to diversity in ways that value everyone equally.
- Linking education to local and global realities.
- Learning from the reduction of barriers for some children to benefit children more widely.
- Viewing differences between children and between adults as resources for learning.
- Acknowledging the right of children to an education of high quality in their locality.
- Improving schools for staff and parents/carers as well as children.
- Emphasising the development of school communities and values, as well as achievements.
- Fostering mutually sustaining relationships between schools and surrounding communities.
- Recognising that inclusion in education is one aspect of inclusion in society