Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools


The Index for Inclusion is a set of materials to guide schools through a process of inclusive school development. It is about building supportive communities and fostering high achievement for all staff and students.

Your school can use the Index to:

The Index takes the social model of disability as its starting point, builds on good practice, and then organises the Index work around a cycle of activities which guide schools through the stages of preparation, investigation, development and review.

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Definitions of inclusion in education from the Index for Inclusion

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.

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Using the materials

  1. Getting started with the Index (half a term):
    the school development planning team establishes a co-ordinating group. The group informs themselves and the rest of the staff about the Index concepts, materials and methods for gathering together knowledge about the school from all members of the school's communities.
  2. Finding out about the school (one term):
    detailed exploration of the school and the identification of priorities for development.
  3. Producing an inclusive school development plan:
    change the school development plan to make it reflect inclusive aims and the particular priorities identified in phase 2.
  4. Implementing priorities (ongoing):
    implementation and support.
  5. Reviewing the Index process (ongoing):
    review of the school’s progress in developing inclusive cultures, policies and practices.

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Sample indicators and questions

The materials are organised in three dimensions:

Each section contains up to eleven indicators and the meaning of each indicator is clarified by a series of questions. For example, here are the indicators for creating inclusive cultures, policies and practices, with the questions arising from one of the indicators in each case.

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Indicators for DIMENSION A Creating inclusive cultures

A.1 Building community


A.1.1 Everyone is made to feel welcome.
A.1.2 Students help each other.
A.1.3 Staff collaborate with each other.
A.1.4 Staff and students treat one another with respect.
A.1.5 There is a partnership between staff and parents/carers.
A.1.6 Staff and governors work well together.
A.1.7 All local communities are involved in the school.

A.2 Establishing inclusive values


A.2.1 There are high expectations for all students.
A.2.2 Staff, governors, students and parents/carers share a philosophy of inclusion.
A.2.3 Students are equally valued.
A.2.4 Staff and students treat one another as human beings as well as occupants of a ‘role’.
A.2.5 Staff seek to remove barriers to learning and participation in all aspects of the school.
A.2.6 The school strives to minimise discriminatory practice

Sample questions for indicator A.1.3 Staff collaborate with each other

  1. Do staff treat each other with respect irrespective of their roles in the school?
  2. Do staff treat each other with respect irrespective of their gender?
  3. Do staff treat each other with respect irrespective of their class or ethnic background?
  4. Are all staff invited to staff meetings?
  5. Do all staff attend meetings?
  6. Is there wide participation in meetings?
  7. Are all teachers and classroom assistants involved in curriculum planning and review?
  8. Is teamwork between staff a model for the collaboration of students?
  9. Do staff know who to turn to with a problem?
  10. Do staff feel comfortable about discussing problems in their work?
  11. Are regular supply staff encouraged to be actively involved in the life of the school?
  12. Are all staff involved in drawing up priorities for school development?
  13. Do all staff feel ownership of the school development plan?

Indicators for DIMENSION B Producing inclusive policies

B.1 Developing the school for all


B.1.1 Staff appointments and promotions are fair.
B.1.2 All new staff are helped to settle into the school.
B.1.3 The school seeks to admit all students from its locality.
B.1.4 The school makes its buildings physically accessible to all people.
B.1.5 All new students are helped to settle into the school.
B.1.6 The school arranges teaching groups so that all students are valued.

B.2 Organising support for diversity


B.2.1 All forms of support are co-ordinated.
B.2.2 Staff development activities help staff to respond to student diversity. B.2.3 'Special educational needs' policies are inclusion policies.
B.2.4 The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice is used to reduce the barriers to learning and participation of all students.
B.2.5 Support for those learning English as an additional language is co-ordinated with learning support.
B.2.6 Pastoral and behaviour support policies are linked to curriculum development and learning support policies
B.2.7 Pressures for disciplinary exclusion are decreased.
B.2.8 Barriers to attendance are reduced.
B.2.9 Bullying is minimised.

Sample questions for indicator B.2 Organising support for diversity

  1. Do all curriculum development activities address the participation of students differing in background, experience, attainment or impairment?
  2. Do all curriculum development activities address the reduction of barriers to learning and participation?
  3. Do staff development activities support staff in working effectively together in classrooms?
  4. Is partnership teaching, followed by shared review, used to support teachers to respond to student diversity?
  5. Do staff observe each other's lessons in order to reflect on the perspectives of students?
  6. Do staff receive training in devising and managing collaborative learning activities?
  7. Are there shared opportunities for teachers and classroom assistants to develop more effective collaboration?
  8. Are there opportunities for staff and students to learn about peer tutoring?
  9. Do teaching and support staff learn about using technology to support learning (such as cameras, television, video, overhead projector, tape-recorders, computers/internet)?
  10. Do staff explore ways of reducing disaffection by increasing the engagement of students in curricula?
  11. Is disability equality education provided for all staff?
  12. Do all staff learn how to counter bullying, including racism, sexism and homophobia?
  13. Do staff and governors take responsibility for assessing their own learning needs?

Indicators for DIMENSION C Evolving inclusive practices

C.1 Orchestrating learning

C.1.1 Teaching is planned with the learning of all students in mind.
C.1.2 Lessons encourage the participation of all students.
C.1.3 Lessons develop an understanding of difference.
C.1.4 Students are actively involved in their own learning.
C.1.5 Students learn collaboratively.
C.1.6 Assessment contributes to the achievements of all students.
C.1.7 Classroom discipline is based on mutual respect.
C.1.8 Teachers plan, teach and review in partnership.
C.1.9 Teachers are concerned to support the learning and participation of all students.
C.1.10 Teaching assistants support the learning and participation of all students.
C.1.11 Homework contributes to the learning of all.
C.1.12 All students take part in activities outside the classroom.

C.2 Mobilising resources

C.2.1 Student difference is used as a resource for teaching and learning.
C.2.2 Staff expertise is fully utilised.
C.2.3 Staff develop resources to support learning and participation.
C.2.4 Community resources are known and drawn upon.
C.2.5 School resources are distributed fairly so that they support inclusion.

Sample questions for indicator C.1 Orchestrating learning

  1. Are students encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning?
  2. Do teachers explain the purpose of a lesson or group of lessons?
  3. Do the classroom environment, displays and other resources help independent learning?
  4. Does the support given to students help them to move on in their learning while drawing on the knowledge and skills they already possess?
  5. Are curriculum plans shared with students so that they can choose to study at a faster pace or in greater depth?
  6. Are students taught how to research and write up a topic?
  7. Are students able to use the library and information technology resources independently?
  8. Are students taught how to take notes from lectures and books and organise their work?
  9. Are mechanical copying activities avoided?
  10. Are students taught how to present their work in spoken, written and other forms, individually and in groups?
  11. Are students encouraged to summarise what they have learnt verbally and in writing?
  12. Are students taught how to revise for tests and examinations?
  13. Are students consulted about the support they need?
  14. Are students consulted about the quality of lessons?
  15. Are students involved in finding ways to overcome their own and each other's difficulties in learning?
  16. Are students given a choice over activities?
  17. Are the interests, knowledge and skills acquired independently by students valued and drawn upon in lessons?

The two authors introduce the Index

Tony Booth, Professor of Education, Centre for Educational Research, Canterbury Christ Church University College and Mel Ainscow, Professor of Education, Centre for Educational Needs, University of Manchester wrote an article, Breaking down the barriers: the Index for Inclusion, which was first printed in Education Journal in March 2000. It describes the Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools.

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The Index for Inclusion (schools version) has been translated and/or adapted for use in many countries around the world. In May 2011, when the revised edition was published, there were forty translations of the second edition.

If you would like to translate the Index for Inclusion into your language, please contact the CSIE office to see if the translation rights are available, in the first instance. We will also explain our standard terms and conditions. We do not charge a fee for granting permission to translate CSIE resources but may charge a small royalty fee if translated materials are then sold for profit.

If you have already been granted permission to translate, print and sell the Index in your country, please complete and return this form to the CSIE office.

Please see below for a list of languages in which the second edition of the Index for Inclusion (schools version) is currently available. A number of these translations can also be accessed through the Enabling Education Network (EENET) website.

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Page last updated: Tuesday 10 November 2020

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