Booth, T and Ainscow, M (2002) The Index for Inclusion

If you are studying Inclusive Education a must read is a background article by Vaughan (2002) and an accompanying tool titled "The Index for Inclusion". The Index was developed by Tony Booth and Mel Ainscow in 2000 after a three year trial involving 22 English schools (Booth, T and Ainscow, M 2002).  The Index in its simplest form is a set of self review questions that direct schools to focus on three key dimensions: cultures, policies and practice (Vaughn 2002 p.197).   There are 45 indicators in total and just short of 500 questions under which all stakeholders in the school – teachers, heads, parents, governors and students – contribute to data collection by questionnaire.

The Index aims to provide schools with a framework with which to construct an inclusive environment by pulling together all of the stakeholders within the school community. The Index also aims to generate communication within schools or local government areas in a hope that these conversations will lead to greater inclusionary practices.  From a personal viewpoint this is revolutionary in it being a catalyst of progressing inclusion from an ideology towards a practice.

Whilst there has been much written about inclusion the Index states clearly what Inclusion in education involves:
  • Valuing all students and staff equally.
  • Increasing the participation of students in, and reducing their exclusion from, the cultures, curricula and communities of local schools.
  • Restructuring the cultures, policies and practices in schools so that they respond to the diversity of students in the locality.
  • Reducing barriers to learning and participation for all students, not only those with impairments or those who are categorised as `having special educational needs’.
  • Learning from attempts to overcome barriers to the access and participation of particular students to make changes for the benefit of students more widely.
  • Viewing the difference between students as resources to support learning, rather than as problems to be overcome.
  • Acknowledging the right of students to an education in their locality.
  • Improving schools for staff as well as for students.
  • Emphasising the role of schools in building community and developing values, as well as in increasing achievement.
  • Fostering mutually sustaining relationships between schools and communities.
  • Recognising that inclusion in education is one aspect of inclusion in society.

Inclusion as an ideology has much merit linked to the right of all to an equitable education and opportunity to fulfill individual potentials.  Moving from ideology to practice however has been problematic as systems, attitudes and resources have not matched the support it once received. Despite the index being in place and supported by the Teacher Training Agency and the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) there still continue with a concern that many Local Governments in England have not continued to support Inclusive education. Follow up review of inclusion post release of the index reveal that:

  • New statistics report for England shows very little progress towards inclusion nationally, 2002-2004
  • One third of LEAs increased segregation of disabled pupils over the three years
  • Disturbing, local variations in placement across England: In 2004 pupils with statements of special educational needs in South Tyneside were 24 times more likely to receive a segregated education than those in Newham, London 
CSIE (2012): Are LEAs in England abandoning inclusive education?