Inclusion is the key

It's not just the most confident and bubbly pupils who can help with fundraising - it's important to include the whole class, says Ted Wragg

Announce that you are going to raise funds for children in Afghanistan as part of the TES-UNICEF Children Helping Children campaign and certain children spring into life at the very thought of such an effort. They are often the ones with ideas, energy and a bubbly and confident personality.

When I sit in classrooms observing lessons as part of a research project, I often take the opportunity to watch those pupils who easily escape the eye. They are not bursting to answer questions, but nor do they mess about or distract others. When a teacher asks the class to get on with their work, they are the ones who do just that, without fuss. These pupils are sometimes referred to as the "muddy middle", a disparaging term that does them a huge injustice, for often they are the salt of the earth, tomorrow's solid and reliable citizens. They are every bit as deserving of encouragement as their more thrusting colleagues.

It is well worth thinking carefully about the role that these children might play in any fundraising effort. One of the winners of a Princess Diana Award last year was an autistic boy who did a brilliant job running a school tuck shop. Traits that are sometimes seen as a problem became a virtue, as he looked after the stock and ran the business meticulously.

Children who feel uncomfortable leaping up in front of adults, or pushing a collecting box under someone's nose, might turn out to be very good at arranging and maintaining displays, writing down ideas rather than brainstorming them orally, organising behind the scenes - in other words good at the private, rather than the public, the sustained, rather than the instant features of an enterprise.

One feature of many schools that practise inclusion, rather than talk about it, is that all children, including those with special needs, become involved in a natural way, playing an important part in fundraising and citizenship activities. Many have had to develop incredible personal qualities to survive and prosper: determination, ingenuity, sociability.

One important starting point is to ask these children themselves, on an individual basis, rather than in the whole class, if they can think of anything they would particularly like to do. Have a range of options ready, alone or with others, for those who might not offer their own suggestions.

After all, helping to educate fellow citizens in Afghanistan who have been denied education is a very good cause, and one with which anyone should be able to help.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University For more ideas and suggestions for fundraising activities for the appeal, visit you don't have access to the web, ask for copies of the ideas from UNICEF on 0870 606 3377.We want to publicise what schools are doing to help, so please let us know what you are doing.Email: 0207 782 3205

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