04 SES 14, Leading Schools Towards Inclusion in Different European Countries
Within the field of school improvement research, strong evidence can be found for the key role of a school’s principal (Harazd, Gieske, & Rolff, 2008), especially for establishing new educational policies. This, according to Fend (2008), can be attributed to the fact that new educational policies are re-contextualised on every level of the system. Hence, the way in which a school’s principal re-contextualises inclusive education and the mainstreaming of students with special educational needs (SEN) may be seen as a key factor for realizing an inclusive school system, which is supported by some empirical evidence from an international point of view (Ainscow, Dyson, & Weiner, 2013). Actual findings from Germany are consistent with those findings (Scheer, Laubenstein, & Lindmeier, 2014). On the other hand, there are only few empirical findings, especially within the German speaking countries, about how principals can lead their schools’ development into an inclusive direction and how their tasks change by introducing inclusive education for students with SEN (Scheer et al., 2014). The aim of this project is to evaluate which tasks principals of so called mainstreaming schools have to face while transforming the current schooling system into an inclusive one, which leadership style and role they believe they should employ as a leader, and which framework conditions they have to deal with. Therefore, qualitative expert interviews with 15 principals of mainstreaming schools in a German federal state have been conducted and are now being analysed using techniques of qualitative content analysis (Mayring, 2014). First findings from the project’s actual state of progress suggest that important key tasks for principals are located within the areas of (1) offering clear, transparent and effective structures for inclusive school development, (2) personally supporting and encouraging staff members, and (3) initiating ideas and visions for school improvement on all levels of the organisation. Furthermore, a relationship between the self-anticipated style of leadership and the thinking about inclusive education can be described. Overall the findings can, with limitations given by the state’s individual school system, explain the quality of some quantitative findings from international research like those reported by Houser, Dickens and Hicks (2011) and Cobb (2015). As a preliminary conclusion it can be stated that a principal acting as leader is crucial to successfully lead schools to inclusion.
Ainscow, M., Dyson, A., & Weiner, S. (2013). From exclusion to inclusion: ways of responding in schools to students with special educational needs. Manchester, UK: Centre for Equity in Education. Cobb, C. (2015). Principals play many parts: A review of the research on school principals as special education leaders 2001–2011. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 19, 213–234. Fend, H. (2008). Neue Theorie der Schule: Einführung in das Verstehen von Bildungssystemen (2nd ed.). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Harazd, B., Gieske, M., & Rolff, H.-G. (2008). Herausforderungen an Schulleitung: Verteilung von Verantwortung und Aufgaben. In W. Bos, H. G. Holtappels, H. Pfeiffer, H.-G. Rolff, & R. Schulz-Zander (Eds.), Jahrbuch der Schulentwicklung (Vol. 15, pp. 225–256). Weinheim und München: Juventa. Houser, M., Dickens, V., & Hicks, T. (2011). Correlates of Attitudes Toward Academic and Physical Inclusive Practices for Students with Disabilities and Selected Leadership Behaviors Among Middle School Principals in North Carolina. Mayring, P. (2014). Qualitative Content Analysis: Theoretical Foundation, Basic Procedures and Software Solution. Scheer, D., Laubenstein, D., & Lindmeier, C. (2014). Die Rolle von Schulleitung in der Entwicklung des inklusiven Unterrichts in Rheinland-Pfalz - Vorstellung eines Forschungsdesigns im Rahmen der Schulbegleitforschung. Zeitschrift Für Heilpädagogik, 65, 147–155.
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