Educational strategies and guidance are often developed by applying 'expertise' and particular kinds of knowledge in accordance with established 'good practice' from a professional perspective. How inclusive are those strategies from the perspective of the pupils? Educationalists committed to equality and to widening participation constantly strive to encourage the development of an 'inclusive ethos and curriculum' within schools, but what does this actually mean? Inclusion within the education system must not only support every pupil'ss basic human right to education but also ensure that each pupil feels that education to be accessible and relevant to them and that their cultural and linguistic identity is valued. Booth suggests that inclusion involves the wider community, cultures and identities, and acceptance of the value and diversity of pupils. He argues that inclusion, and thereby participation, in the education system is more than simply access to education:
It [participation] implies learning alongside others and collaborating with them in shared lessons. It involves active engagement with what is learnt and taught and having a say in how education is experienced. But participation also involves being recognised for oneself and being accepted for oneself: I participate with you when you recognise me as a person like yourself and accept me for who I am.
(Booth, 2003, p. 2)
Pupils' individual identities need to be reflected in the school environment and the curriculum, and the diversity of students' lives and cultures celebrated as an enriching resource for schools and the communities to which they belong.
The small research project discussed here took place in 'Homesvale'. The local education authority is made up of a metropolitan borough which consists of nine towns with an overall population of over 370,000. The largest town, 'Carketown' (population 120,000) is in the southern part of the borough, flanked by three smaller rural townships which make up the most affluent part of the area. The northern part of the borough has five small