04 SES 04 B, Inclusive Schools
The paper discusses the ways that Greek head-teachers created and implemented their vision for an inclusive school. The theoretical stance adopted for such an exploration conceptualises inclusive education as a change process where education leadership holds an important role in the implementation and development of inclusive practices within the school organisation (Ainscow & Sandill, 2010; Coleman, 2012; Fullan, 2007). In organisational and business management literature, the concept of vision is described as a driving force for organisational change (Bennis & Nanus, 1985; English, 2008; Kotter, 2008). Similarly, vision holds a distinctive place in the field of inclusive education studies as a leadership practice by emphasising the need for a value driven leadership able to communicate and embody inclusive values within the school organisation (Barton, 1997; Booth et al., 2002; Kugelmass, 2006). Hence, the school leaders’ vision is identified as an essential element in the process of organisational change and a powerful predictor for positive outcomes in the implementation of inclusive practices within the school organisation.
By adopting such a view over the concept of vision in the process of inclusive education, the research project looks at how the concept of vision as a leadership quality applies in the Greek educational context by posing research questions around the vision content that school head-teachers hold for their schools identified as inclusive schools by the school community. More specifically the research design aimed to explore in the specific context:
- What is the content of an inclusive vision?
- How do educational leaders conceptualise the content of an inclusive vision?
It has to be mentioned that the research questions around the content of the vision were explored in parallel with the process of its emergence in the school organisation.
The paper conceptualises the vision process as a systemic process where transition and change are interrelated. Adopting such a view, the content of an inclusive vision appears not to be stable and pre-determined. In literature, the dynamics of organisational change and professional development are interrelated and explored by employing the concept of transition. Bridges (1991, 2004), who first introduced the term, described the concept as an internal process of change referring to individuals contrasting with change as external to individual. Several scholars in the field of educational leadership have developed stage-models to describe the organisational leaders’ experiences of transition during their professional career (see Oplatka, 2012 for relevant discussion). However, in the description and explanation of the different phases by the suggested transition models, the head-teacher’s vision, although identified as an important element in the transition process, the ways that it is developed at different professional phases remains a tacit correlation. The paper discusses the construction of a vision for an inclusive school in relation to the head-teacher’s professional development in the specific context and offers valuable insights for the contextual characteristics of school leadership for inclusion.
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