||Intervening in the lives of others is perennially problematic. As practitioners, policy makers, academics and researchers, we fantasise that our inspiration, ideas, writing, and action will promote transformative change, yet without power to force compliance, we may find our results disappointing. Sometimes we look hopefully at the role we can play in the practice of others at the same time as we recognise the barriers to changing our own contexts. Yet I will suggest that it is worth adding to the mountain of writings on educational improvement, development, effectiveness and quality. I define development as change in accordance with particular values. I suggest that clarity of concepts and values, an acknowledgment of the significance of cultures and development processes, a recognition of shared purposes and the assiduous tracking of the range of the practical implications of these concerns for educational systems and settings may increase possibilities to reduce the messiness of practice and take it in intended directions.
I will illustrate how these ideas are embedded in the new edition of ‘the Index for Inclusion; developing learning and participation in schools’. The Index for Inclusion seems to assist the link between the common concerns of insiders and outsiders to educational settings. In a major addition, in this recent work, I have provided a detailed outline for an alternative way of structuring teaching and learning activities. I will report on some of the ways the Index for Inclusion has been used to initiate developments locally within Norfolk as well as in other countries. I will ask whether efforts to reduce the messiness of intervention as illustrated by this work can help us to construct dialogues that go beyond an attempt to clean a floor with a dirty rag.