Index for Inclusion

Index for Inclusion is a resource for self-evaluation and improvement. It encourages the whole community to work together in reviewing all aspects of cultures, policies and practices helping staff to put their own framework of values into action.

Booth, T and Ainscow, M. (2011) Index for Inclusion (3rd edn), Bristol:  Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE).

The CSIE website provides a wealth of information on Inclusion:


Denise Kingston was one of the team who worked on developing the Index. She has answered some of the frequently asked questions about using the Index below:

Is the Index right for my setting?

As the index is a setting based tool, it is most applicable for those of you working in a well-defined setting. A setting can be very small for example a childminder’s house or a small team of practitioners working in a nursery or club up to a large primary or secondary school or a chain of afterschool clubs. The index has been used in all of these settings in the past. Remember though, if you decide to use the Index, you can use and adapt the materials to suit your setting. It is meant to be a working document so that you can change it to suit your needs. Also, if you do make adaptations, it would be great to hear what you did so that maybe we can influence the next version of the Index for Inclusion!

Index for inclusion: developing play, learning and participation in early years and childcare is:
‘a resource to support the inclusive development of nurseries, playgroups, parent and children’s centres, crèches, childminding, homecare, clubs and play schemes’
(Booth et al, 2006 p 1)

Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools is:
‘a resource to support the inclusive development of schools’
(Booth et al, 2002 p 1)

My setting is already very inclusive; can I still use the Index?

Many of you appear to be in the happy position of working in inclusive settings, which is great, however my experience has been that even the most inclusive settings find some aspects to work on to become even more inclusive when using the Index. Inclusion, in the Index, is seen as a process not a simple ‘yes, we are inclusive’ or ‘no, we are not’. Even if initially people think they have no improvements to make as they engage with the materials, especially at the questions level, they find a number of changes they can identify. I have also found that the most inclusive settings often have the most responsive and creative practitioners and so they very quickly identify improvements which support inclusion.

How can I use the Index to support inclusion in my setting?

You can use the Index in a number of ways. The Index recommends that you use the materials to support a process of self review and gather everyone’s views first before deciding on priorities for change. However, you might not be in a position to do this and as an alternative you can ‘dip into’ it and use aspects of it instead. You might concentrate on one of the dimensions: policy, practice or culture digging deeper to look at the indicators and questions which apply to you. You may be concerned about an aspect of practice in your setting which you see as exclusionary and find ideas for a way forward in the materials. As long as you can justify any changes you make or propose with the inclusive values outlined (on my power point and) on page 3 of the leaflet you would be following the Index guidelines.

However, the best way to use the Index is as a self-review tool as this ensures that you give all stakeholders a voice. Your stakeholders will vary depending on your setting, some will automatically include children, young people and adults from vulnerable groups while others will not – this is fine. If you follow this process in an ongoing way it will ensure that everyone has a voice and each individual’s view is taken into account. It will also support staff in recognising and responding to the backgrounds, experiences, cultures, knowledge and skills of the children and young people in their care. The process is designed to empower all stakeholders and actively involve them in making important decisions about the setting. It inevitably involves discussion around attitudes, practice and inclusive values.

If you use the Index in this way then, once you are familiar with the materials, you need to gather the views of all of your stakeholders. You may use the questionnaires, adapt the questionnaires, hold meetings or informal gatherings, make observations, use cameras etc to help you with this. If you do this, you are likely to learn a lot about your setting. Consider, for instance, the questionnaire you completed during the session we had. Would all of the staff in your setting have completed it in the same way you did? If not, why not? How would you respond to those differences?

Engaging with a self-review in this way is often quite a complex process. How will you ensure that everyone has the opportunity to respond? The challenge of ensuring that everyone is heard may link to the age of your children and young people, to their proximity to your setting, to their self identities and self images, to their vulnerability, to their experiences of exclusion within and outside of your setting, to their disabilities etc How will you get a true and honest response from everyone? Would you need to allow for anonymity, if so how would you do this? How will you reach the people in your local community or parents (should that be appropriate) who typically do not respond to questionnaires? If you include all of your stakeholders in this process you are likely to find differing views: typically the children do not see the setting as the staff do, not all staff agree and parents/others might have a different view again. How do you bring these voices together? What do you prioritise?

We already review our setting on a regular basis, what can the Index add?

Some of you may already work in settings who engage in a similar review process or elements of this, so some of the job is already done. You might consider whether yours is a truly inclusive process? Could you make it more inclusive? If it is inclusive, how is the information used, what impact does it have? What mechanisms of feedback and ongoing changes result from this process? How do those stakeholders who have given their views know that they are taken into account? Can you trace changes in policy, practice and culture (the 3 dimensions of the Index) as a result of this process?