04 SES 01 B, Fostering Inclusive Education in School Through Organisational Change
Paper/Pecha Kucha Session
Inclusion is a process engaging all school community in reducing any form of exclusion and marginalization, due to physical, social or cultural barrier, and intervene in favor of those learners at risk of underachievement. It entails all pupils and students, with a specific emphasis on groups or individuals at risk (IBE-UNESCO, 2016).
Inclusive schools are expected to promote active participation of the learners themselves, their families and their local communities in order to guarantee participation and achievement to all (UNESCO, 2009; IBE-UNESCO, 2016).
In the same way, research methods in this field need to be consistent with the aim of inclusion throughout their processes, directly involving the participants, especially those with disability or at risk of marginalization and exclusion.
Some research approaches, such as participatory and emancipatory research, offer the possibility to engage the school community to play a central role in producing contextualized knowledge (Trinchero, 2002). For example, the Index for Inclusion represents an approach to improve the quality of school inclusion through participatory processes (Booth & Ainscow, 2014).
The researcher should maintain a democratic and respectful attitude towards participants. He/she has to provide all necessary information about research processes and aims and adopt a stance that gives equal value and possibility of decision-making to both researchers and participants.
Although these premises about the research method are clearly defined, their translation into practice implies some critical issues that need to be faced and that require suitable solutions.
For example, it is particularly challenging to enhance the active participation of small children or children with intellectual or complex disabilities.
Moreover, schools are complex institutions where power structures and hierarchical relations define practices and where some individuals have more opportunities to express themselves and take decisions. A participatory and inclusive research method should also modify these dynamics.
Finally, cultural differences within schools and in relation to the academic community make it more difficult to find a common ‘language’.
Our research project involves kindergarten and schools of all levels, with the aim of empowering teachers, educators and learners and encouraging processes of self-evalutation and self-improvement of school inclusion.
Four instruments for self-evalutation and self-improvement of school inclusion were selected and are going to be tested in 12 sample schools of the Province of South Tyrol.
The research project will make available a final paper documentation about the best practices regarding the application of these four instrument.
We would like to use this opportunity to discuss our research methods, presenting the instruments chosen and considering the related issues regarding research processes.
Action research is organized in four principal phases: planning, action, observation and reflection (Lewin, 1946). On the base of this model, we built a circular research plan that connects action and reflection during the whole process. Self-evaluation and self-improvement processes are focused on four levels: individual, class, school and community. After an initial literature review, for each of the four levels a specific research instrument was selected: Profile of inclusive teachers (EADSNE, 2012), Lesson Study (Norwich, & Jones, 2014; Dudley, 2014), Index for Inclusion (Booth & Ainscow, 2014) and Kommunale Index (Montag Stiftung Jugend und Gesellschaft, 2011). The first level deals with teachers’, educators’ and principals’ attitudes and beliefs and engages in a process of self-reflection and personal development. The second level aims to involve teachers and educators in planning inclusive lessons using the Lesson Study approach, in order to incentivize collaboration and co-planning in the class. The third level involves the whole school institution in a process of self-evaluation regarding its inclusivity and plan together transformative actions to improve the quality of inclusion. The fourth level engages the school and local community in developing new relations and building new cooperation and collaborations to reduce forms of exclusion or discrimination and remove barriers to learning and participation. All these instruments are applied separately but they are in constant and reciprocal relation.
The sample schools taking part in the participatory research constitute, with their own experiences, an example of school and community development for inclusion and, thanks to their competences and know-how acquired in the field, they could become a point of reference for other schools in the region of South Tyrol. Moreover, the results of the project will be used, on one side, to inform about good practices regarding processes of self-evaluation and self-improvement at all four levels previously cited and, on the other side, to create a set of tools to be shared with other school institutions willing to work on their inclusive processes.
Booth, T. & Ainscow, M. (2014). Nuovo index per l’inclusione. Roma: Carocci. Dudley, P. (2014). Lesson Study: a handbook. Last access 18/01/2018, retrieved from http://lessonstudy.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/new-handbook-revisedMay14.pdf European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education [EADSNE] (2012). Teacher Education for Inclusion. Profile of Inclusive Teachers. Last access 20/11/2017, retrieved from https://www.european-agency.org/sites/default/files/Profile-of-Inclusive-Teachers.pdf International Bureau of Education-UNESCO (IBE-UNESCO) (2016). Training Tools for Curriculum Development – Reaching Out to All Learners: a Resource Pack for Supporting Inclusive Education. Geneva: Switzerland. Lewin, K. (1946). Action research and minority problems. Journal of social Issues, 2(4), 34-46. Trinchero, R. (2002). Manuale di ricerca educativa. Milano: FrancoAngeli. Montag Stiftung Jugend und Gesellschaft (2011). Inklusion vor Ort – Der Kommunale Index für Inklusion – ein Praxishandbuch. Bonn: Montag Stiftung Jugend und Gesellschaft . Norwich, B., & Jones, J. (Ed., 2014). Lesson Study. Making a Difference to Teaching Pupils with Learning Difficulties. London: Bloomsbury. UNESCO (2009). Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. Paris: UNESCO. Last access 18/01/2018, retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf
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