Responding to 21st century imperatives: A new 'Index for Inclusion'

Tony Booth

In 2011 a radically revised edition of the 'Index for Inclusion: Developing learning and participation in schools' was published in England. Here Tony Booth explains the changes and how it is being used.

Building on the past
The previous edition had been used in many countries, and translated and adapted into almost 40 languages. Thousands of schools used it in a variety of ways to review their cultures, policies and practices, create inclusive plans and put them into action. However, it was important to create a new edition that reflected 10 years of experience of using the Index, and developments in my own thinking about inclusion and educational development. The revision was an opportunity to improve on the previous edition and consider the most pressing concerns for education in the next decade.

Responding to imperatives
The new edition is green, dedicated to the decade of biodiversity 2011-2020. We must educate our children and ourselves to limit environmental degradation. This includes the rapid reduction in biodiversity, and global warming from greenhouse gases with their knock-on effects on sea levels, acidification and extreme weather.

An enduring imperative is to help our children recognise the humanity in those they see as different from themselves, and to understand the destruction that can happen when they don't. So the revised Index helps promote non-violent communication and relationships. I have also linked the participation of school staff, children, families and communities to the creation of participatory democracies and an understanding of global citizenship. Citizenship in the Index is learned more from the way schools promote collaborative relationships than from particular lessons in classrooms.

A framework of values
Imperatives are a strong way of expressing values - deep-seated beliefs which act as motives for action. The new Index introduces a framework of values derived through dialogues with many educators around the world (see Figure 1).

Fig. 1. A framework of inclusive education
Fig. 1. A framework of inclusive education

 

The Index promotes 'values literacy': engaging in dialogue about the values behind our actions and how we can connect them to inclusive values. This is complex since our actions are also informed by the excluding values, dominant in many of our societies. But educators have commented on how such discussions help them to recover the values that brought them into education, provide them with a new sense of direction and inform moment-tomoment action.

Building alliances with other principled approaches The new Index draws together principled approaches to the development of education. These are roots of a common 'inclusive' tree (Figure 2). If they are not connected then innovation can become just a succession of projects with a limited lifespan. New indicators help to bring them into a single approach to inclusive development.

Fig 2: Alliances for inclusive educational development
Fig. 2: Alliances for inclusive educational development

The biggest impact may come from a new 'curriculum for al' (Figure 3). Traditional curricula are a major barrier to learning. They separate knowledge from experience, and advantage the few young people who are comfortable with this. The 'new curriculum' is for everyone. It reflects rights, inclusive values and imperatives, and a set of inclusive principles such as: 'build learning activities from individual and collective experience'; 'link learning and feelings'; 'build academic knowledge on practical activity'; 'connect education to present realities in the locality and the world'. It allows all members of the community to contribute to teaching and learning activities. Each subject is linked locally and globally, supports economic activity, encourages ethical discussion and draws together an understanding of the past, present and future. It would make sense to people anywhere in the world; in a village or city in Nigeria, Vietnam, Venezuela or the Netherlands.

A traditional curriculum A curriculum for all
Mathematics Food cycles
Physics Water
Chemistry Clothing and body decoration
Biology Housing / built
environment
Geography Movement / transport
History Health / relationships
Language and literature Earth, solar system and universe
Foreign languages Life on earth
Art
Energy
Music Communication / communication technology
Religious education Literature, arts and
music
Physical education Work/activity
Personal, health and social education Ethics, power and government
Fig. 3. Traditional and inclusive curricula

The new Index in use
It has so far been translated/adapted into Spanish in Chile and Portuguese in Brazil, where a very promising Index network is being created in a number of institutions. Translations/adaptations are in progress in Germany and Hungary. Work with 10 schools begins in Bulgaria in December 2012.

Following a successful revised Index pilot with 35 schools in Norfolk, England, the municipal council has funded its dissemination in all its 450 schools. All advisory staff have a copy and the local authority wants to adapt it for use beyond schools.

In Chile, a very strong student movement has responded to widespread privatisation by pushing to reclaim free public education as a right for all citizens. Colleagues from Chile, Spain and myself have run Index workshops with several groups based within the private and public sectors. However, early on we decided to focus on supporting the public sector and met with the leaders of the student movement and their allies. As a result of reports from teachers in our workshops and responses of academics to our conferences, two universities have appointed colleagues to work with the Index in municipalities as part of their posts.

Concluding comment
The enthusiasm with which colleagues around the world are reacting to the new edition is a cause for optimism. Whatever the pressures, many are committed to taking greater control over educational development in accordance with their deeply held, inclusive values.

For more information contact Tony Booth:

Marching for free high quality public education in Chile
Marching for free high quality public education in Chile

 

The new edition of the Index can be bought from Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education (CSIE), for £39.50. Website: www.csie.org.uk Email:

Full reference: Booth, T. and Ainscow, M. (2011) The Index for Inclusion: Developing learning and participation in schools. Bristol: CSIE.

 


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