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The Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools

Tony Booth and Mel Ainscow

The Index is a practical guide to support the values-based review and development of all aspects of a setting, in staffrooms, classrooms, playgrounds. It addresses the relationships amongst adults and children within the setting and between settings, including parents/carers, governors and others in the local community. It was first published in 2000 in a version for schools; in 2004 an edition was produced for early years and childcare settings. Originally written to support the development of schools in England it quickly attracted interest from people in other countries; thirteen years later the various editions have been translated into forty languages. While adaptation to local contexts is strongly advocated, this has not always happened.

The Index encourages a participatory development process. It emphasizes self-direction, solidarity and the creation of fertile conditions for play, learning and teaching as the foundations of school improvement rather than targets, competition, and fear of failure. It contains 70 indicators for development, organized along three dimensions of improvement: policies, practices and cultures. Each indicator is given meaning by a page of challenging questions which prompt a detailed review of the setting and provide ideas for action. Settings are invited to augment and adapt the questions to suit their circumstances. Staff groups can use the Index in many different ways, focusing on a single aspect or concern in the setting, for example, or to guide a wider re-examination and transformation.

The book was radically revised in 2011 in the light of dialogue about the use of previous versions and reflections on educational development over a decade. This is a green edition dedicated to the decade of biodiversity [2011 – 2020] in recognition of the importance of environmental sustainability to the inclusion of us all. It offers a detailed framework of values as the basis for staff groups to explore their own, shared, values and how they can be more consistently connected to their actions. It offers ways for common purpose to be built with other approaches to development that reflect similar values. These include the Learning without Limits project, health promoting schools, rights based, democratic, environmental education, forest schools and education for global citizenship. This edition also provides an extensive outline of an inclusive curriculum for the 21st century to extend and eventually replace one based on traditional subjects. This outline connects the curriculum to children and young people’s experience, breaks down distinctions between practical, vocational and academic education, is rights and values based, and encourages local and global links to be made in all subject areas.

Booth, T. and Ainscow, M. (2000, 2002, 2011) Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools, Bristol, CSIE.

Booth, T. and Ainscow, M. (2004, 2006) Index for Inclusion: developing play learning and participation in early years and childcare, Bristol, CSIE.