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themes for developing inclusion

Paper by Mark Vaughan
Director, Educational Change Consultancy (ECC)
April 2008

This paper outlines the workshops and training offered within the ECC portfolio.


  1. International Overview
  2. Pre-requisites to Developing Policy and Philosophy
  3. Defining inclusion
  4. Segregation is devaluing
  5. Practical example - Cleves School

These separate workshops and seminars are often combined to create tailor-made sessions for a particular context or client group.

1) International Overview: 1 hour+

This presentation takes about one hour with questions and answers. It sets the wider, international scene supporting the moves to greater inclusion of all pupils in education; it has the subtitle 'The Imperative for Change'. It provides an international backcloth (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNESCO's Salamanca Statement etc) against which participants can re-set their aims and vision for inclusive education for all. Article 24 from the 2006 UN Convention on disabled people is welcomed as a starting point. This talk considers that inclusion benefits 100% of pupils, not just those excluded by disability, race, language, culture, gender or other differences.

2) Pre-requisites to Developing Policy and Philosophy

2.1 Gold as a metaphor for inclusion: 2 hours

This uses an ancient story with resonances for today. It takes about two hours, depending on the size of the group and involves the telling of a story interspersed by small group discussion and feedback to the wider group. This powerful and thought-provoking workshop gets people thinking at a deep level about how they want inclusion to develop. The power of the story enables people to build strength in themselves, using their imagination to look at different aspects of their experience of inclusion as the story unfolds.

2.2 The PATH exercise: 3 hours

This originates from North America (see Pearpoint, O'Brien and Forest 1993) and allows an individual or small group facing a particular issue with inclusion to dig deep and investigate dreams, strengths, allies and find solutions. This 3-hour workshop has two people to run it - a facilitator and another drawing and writing on a large piece of paper (4mx2m), to record all the detail that comes from the participants.

2.3 Left Brain - Right Brain: 1 hour

The left-brain holds the logical side of our mind, professional, data storage, facts, most of science, political and so on. The right side of the brain is creative, intuitive, artistic, open-minded, an infinite storehouse of imagination. This practical workshop aims to get participants to engage more with the right side, in the knowledge that this area of inclusive education is only going to progress by the use of deeper creative thinking and understanding.

General note:
ECC also offers unscripted workshops, discussions, investigations and problem solving around the development of inclusive education, working with systems managers, policy makers, teacher trainers, schools, NGOs, education professionals and politicians. In addition, ECC acts as an on going 'critical friend' to any group, school, or agency seeking to develop this area of education.

3) Defining inclusion

3.1 Integration versus Inclusion: 2 hours

The real power of this workshop is when participants unpack the differences between integration and inclusion themselves; it creates a powerful and lasting experience. Within this, participants also discuss the 'Ten Reasons for Inclusion', a list of provocative statements to prompt deeper discussion of rights, education and social justice.

3.2 Lipsky and Gartner's Key Factors for Inclusion: 1 hour

Lipsky and Gartner are one of the most respected academic teams in the world who have investigated inclusion in education from many different perspectives; this workshop is subtitled 'Characterising healthy, inclusive schooling'. The authors list indicators of high standards, leadership, diversity in services, and parental partnerships among the key headings to prompt far-reaching discussion by participants who go on to form their own indicators.

3.3 Widening the circle: the power of the inclusive classroom: 1 hour

This theme draws on different aspects of the pioneering 2007 book by Mara Sapon-Shevin, where she points out that there has always been diversity in our classrooms; it is just that inclusion allows us to name that diversity and to value it. Key themes from the book prompt radical discussions among participants.

3.4 Article 24, UN Convention on disabled people 2007: 1 hour

This workshop goes through Article 24 and creates a line-by-line investigation with participants to elicit agreement and disagreement with the new demands of the Convention's call for inclusive education to be the norm for all disabled pupils.

4) Segregation is devaluing

4.1 Devaluing and Wounding Experiences of Segregation: 2 hours

This workshop is based on a seminal piece of research in the UK by Sam Carson in the 1990s. He cites rejection, congregation and wounding experiences among the negative outcomes of people with differences. People are invited to respond with stories that illuminate the points raised by the workshop.

4.2 Sculpture, Investments and Victorian law: 2 hours

This workshop uses several provocative catalysts including:

i) A large sculpture in Trafalgar Square, central London of Alison Lapper, a naked, pregnant, disabled, female artist. Participants are asked to discuss if they agree with the UK Government Committee that selected this controversial sculpture for such a public setting, what would happen if this sculpture were put in the centre of their towns and cities.

ii) England's 1886 Idiots Act and its offensive Victorian language, encourages participants to investigate more widely why laws, literature and cultures of the past - and present - contain such offensive language about difference and disability. This type of legislation forms a continuing negative part of our culture.

iii) Reasons Against Segregation, based on a major research study, contributes several key themes such as personal testimony of disabled people, children's entitlement to inclusion, absence of compelling evidence supporting to support segregation and impoverished outcomes from separation.

iv) Investments in Segregation looks at the role of buildings, careers and belief systems to get participants talking about the real investments, which they have in maintaining and promoting a dual system of education.

v) A Pupil Talking. On this short DVD, a young Norwegian boy speaks eloquently on the common sense of inclusion in schools today. Participants are asked to listen to his thinking critically analyse the boy's comments about his classmates and his school and to see if they have similar stories from their schools.

vi) The Inclusion/Exclusion Exercise allows participants to describe experiences of being personally excluded, of being included, and of actually excluding someone themselves in the past. This exercise has a deep purpose - to look at the personal experiences behind the professional's action.

vii) What is it about labels? This workshop takes several short films from North America that illustrate the negativity of labelling people with differences and gets participants to unpack the habit of labelling.

5) Practical example - Cleves School

5.1 Cleves Primary School: 1 hour+

This primary school is situated in a poor part of East London in the Newham education authority. Cleves is an excellent example of good practice and inspirational to practitioners from a wide range of countries. In the discussion after this practical presentation, participants are asked to explore: 'What can you take home from this example and start using in your school next week, or next month?'

5.2 Inclusive School Design: 2 hours

This workshop looks at the 'architecture of inclusion' and other key issues when thinking about inclusive school change; it focuses on the physical fabric of buildings and inclusive development. It is about practical, physical change in schools and prompts a lively discussion where 'bricks and mortar' meet the 'deep philosophy of inclusion'. The workshop is both instructive and creative, and covers new ground which teachers and education administrators too often fail to engage with.


  • 'PATH Workbook', Pearpoint, O'Brien and Forest, Inclusion Press, Toronto 1993 (www.inclusion.com)
  • 'Widening the circle: the power of inclusive classrooms', Mara Sapon-Shevin, Beacon Press, Boston, 2007
  • 'Inclusion and school reform: transforming America's classrooms', Lipsky and Gartner, Brookes, Baltimore, 1997
  • 'Normalisation, needs and schools', Carson, Educational Psychology in Practice, Taylor and Francis, Abingdon, 1992
  • 'Ten Reasons for Inclusion', CSIE, Bristol, 2002
  • Article 24, UN Convention on disabled people (www.un.org/disabilities)
  • Alison Lapper, Artist (www.alisonlapper.com)
  • 'Reasons against segregation', CSIE Bristol, 2002
  • 'Inclusive school design: Building Bulletin 94', DfEE, 2001
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