04 SES 16 C, Creating Sustainable Inclusive Educational Environments
This symposium reports the work of the Research and Capability in Inclusion and Welfare Network (RCIW), over five years, to investigate and help create the conditions for sustainable inclusive educational environments. RCIW, based within one University in Sweden, has undertaken research and knowledge exchange work with municipalities and schools throughout the country, has collaborated with a major independent research institute and with the National Agency for Special Education to facilitate change towards inclusion. It has also led and participated in international comparative research projects on inclusion and contributed to international policy discussions.
In September 2016, UN human rights experts declared in authoritative new guidelines on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that ‘Inclusive education is central to achieving high quality education for all learners, including those with disabilities, and for the development of inclusive, peaceful and fair societies.’ This places further responsibilities on governments to ensure that inclusive education is in place to combat discrimination, and to promote diversity and participation. In spite of these recommendations, progress towards inclusive education remains slow and efforts continue to be directed to making students ‘... less intrusive rather than to make schools more inclusive’ (Artiles and Kozleski, 2016, p. 7) and maintain a lack of regard for racialised, classed and gendered pasts and presents (O’Donnell, 2017) that students bring to school. Consequently there has been a significant growth in both formal and informal exclusion from mainstream classrooms (Hjörne, 2016; Isaksson and Lindquvist, 2015; Riddell et al, 2017). The European wide problems of a failure in the ‘transformation from ideal into practice’ (Haug 2006; Persson 2006) and a lack of recognition of the cultural rather than technical transformation required of schools in order to become inclusive (Slee and Weiner, 2011) remain and appear to be intractable.
Papers in this symposium will reflect the efforts by RCIW and collaborative partners to facilitate change towards inclusion through a number of approaches. These include determining the outcomes of inclusion through systematic analysis and the use of major social theories; using innovative methodologies to research inclusion in changing contexts; supporting schools and municipalities in change management related to inclusion and strategically enhancing schools’ capability to enable them to develop sustainable inclusive educational environments that meet the needs of all students.
The symposium aligns directly with the ECER conference theme, Inclusion and Exclusion: Resources for Educational Research? by sharing direct experiences of investigating inclusion and exclusion, of seeking to influence understandings of inclusion and exclusion and improve capability, and of helping stakeholders create the conditions for change towards more inclusive environments. Each of the symposium participants will offer critical reflections on their contribution to inclusion and building capability and report on the obstacles encountered.
Artiles, A and Kozleski, B (2016) Inclusive education’s promises and trajectories: Critical notes about future research on a venerable idea. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 24(43). http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.24.1919 Haug, P (2006) Formulation and Realization of Social Justice: The Compulsory School for All in Sweden and Norway, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 14 (3), 231-239. Hjörne, E (2016) The narrative of special education in Sweden: history and trends in policy and practice. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 37(4): 540–552. Isaksson J and Lindqvist R (2015) What is the meaning of special education? Problem representations in Swedish policy documents: late 1970s–2014. European Journal of Special Needs Education 30(1): 122–137. O’Donnell, A (2017) Pedagogical injustice and counter-terrorist education. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 12(2): 177-193. Persson, B (2006) Inclusive Education in the Nordic Welfare State: Obstacles, Dilemmas and Opportunities. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, Geneva, 11-15 September. Riddell, S and Hjörne, E (2017) Conceptions of social justice in Scottish and Swedish education systems. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, (12)1: 3-7. Slee, R and Weiner, G (2011) Education Reform and Reconstruction as a Challenge to Research Genres: Reconsidering School Effectiveness Research and Inclusive Schooling. In: School Effectiveness and School Improvement: An International Journal of Research, Policy and Practice, 12 (1), S. 83-98.
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