18 SES 06 JS, Inclusivity within Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport
Joint Paper Session NW 04 and NW 18
The key challenge for schools today is providing tailored support to students who differ in important ways (Lieberman & Block, 2017). Participation in high quality Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes is recognised as an important avenue for supporting teachers to offer high quality, inclusive learning experiences to diverse learners (UNESCO, 2017). It is in these settings that teachers’ understandings about the importance of inclusive education can be developed and expanded, their attitudes and preconceptions about diversity examined, and the ways in which they understand, approach, and respond to differences scrutinised (EADSNE, 2012; Rouse & Florian, 2012; UNESCO, 2013).2.
The role and effectiveness of CPD activities in supporting teachers to develop inclusive pedagogies, however, remains largely unknown (Makopoulou & Thomas, 2017). Despite however a healthy amount of scholarship on the principles of inclusive education (Thomas, 2013), empirical studies examining applied inclusive pedagogies (Florian & Black-Hawkins, 2011), and a growing body of research on inclusion in the context of initial teacher education (EADSNE, 2012 ; Winger & O’Raw, 2010), there is much less research on inclusion in the context of CPD. Very little is therefore known about when, where, how and what beginning and experienced teachers learn about inclusion or how inclusive pedagogy is portrayed, interpreted and understood by both CPD providers (e.g., tutors) and teachers or other school staff. To address this gap, the present evaluation study examine CPD tutors’ interpretations and practices in the context of a national CPD programme on Inclusive Physical Education (IPE) in England. Two research questions were addressed :
- What were IPE tutors’ interpretations of the notion of inclusion in education and physical education ?
- How were these interpretations evidenced in practice?
In order to answer the second question, it was necessary to collect evidence through ethnographic fieldnotes that allowed the delineation and identification of tutors’ practices in relation to the topic of IPE in a way that has not been attempted previously.
Understanding how inclusion is portrayed and interpreted in formal CPD opportunities is worthy of scrutiny. This type of evidence can offer important insights on the direction teachers are advised to take to achieve inclusion and on what needs to be altered or improved to ensure that all pupils, irrespective of their starting points and interests, have genuine and meaningful opportunities to participate, learn and achieve in PE. It is important to clarify that in the context of the present study inclusive education acknowledges the importance of equal access and equal opportunities for all learners (Thomas, 2013). It is a broad concept which rejects outright the segregation of learners based on ability, gender, language, care status, socio-economic background, sexuality, race, religion, ethnic origin, etc. Inclusion is about the child’s fundamental right to participate in and receive appropriate schooling, and the school’s statutory duty to ‘identify and remove all barriers to learning’ and to ensure the ‘presence, participation and achievement of all learners’ (UNESCO, 2017, p. 4).
The context. Launched in 2013, the CPD Programme aimed to increase the competence and confidence of primary, secondary, and trainee teachers (as well as other adults involved in the education of children) to deliver high quality Inclusive Physical Education (IPE). The ‘inclusion spectrum’, developed by Black and Stevenson (Stevenson, 2009) in the UK, provided the ‘theory of instruction’ (Wayne et al., 2008) for the programme, which was implemented in a form of a day-long course. From inception through to September 2016, the Programme evaluated, reached and educated over 5000 school staff in England. Although centrally designed, the implemented relied on 40 trained tutors. Research design and sampling. A case study design (Thomas and Myers, 2015) was adopted where the case was identified at the level of individual courses. To capture the anticipated variation in programme implementation, a cluster sampling procedure was adopted. Each of the nine geographical areas in England was identified as a cluster. Where possible, systematic sampling within the nine clusters was employed with the aim to collect evidence from the first course delivered in each cluster each year. However, this was not always possible in practice due to tutor response and availability. Between January 2014 and September 2015, a total of 12 courses, delivered by 11 tutors across eight geographical areas were observed in their entirety. Data collection tools. To explore tutors’ perceptions of effective CPD delivery, qualitative data were collected via an online questionnaire (distributed to all 40 tutors in programme delivery and returned by 18 tutors) and individual interviews with the tutors observed. To develop a realistic and contextual understanding of how these interpretations were evidenced in practice, qualitative data were collected via ethnographic field notes. The focus of these fieldnotes was on the content, nature and quality of tasks set by the tutors. Fieldnotes were taken for every one minute interval. Data analysis. Qualitative data were entered into N-Vivo and thematic analysis was undertaken.
Preliminary analysis suggests that, at a theoretical level, this programme reflected the non-categorical definition of inclusion evident in the literature. However, despite this seemingly clear and shared conceptual understanding underpinning programme design, some confusion and disparity was apparent in most of the courses observed. Evidence showed that although most tutors made clear references to the need to understand inclusion broadly, the practical aspect of the workshop - dominated by examples about the inclusion of SEND students - was perhaps the space when/where tutors’ conflicting and somewhat confused interpretations were most vividly evident. Inclusive practices promoted (e.g., differentiation by task or resources) was very rarely discussed or problematised. Course delivery overall lacked theoretical rigour and critical engagement. Although most tutors did not appear to tailor provision effectively, a key strength of this programme was the importance placed on fostering participants in rethinking student ability and achievement (Naraian et al., 2012). This was illustrated by discussions about the importance of planning based on teachers’ understanding of what students ‘can do’ rather than delivering PE lessons grounded in misdirected and ill-informed assumptions about the difficulties students experience. In this sense, inclusion was ‘firmly located within the sphere of individual students and their needs’ (Hodkinson, 2010, p. 63). While discussing issues around monitoring progress, most tutors also questioned the idea that all students’ achievement can and should be ‘measured’ in a single, narrow way and against ‘normative’ standards. Participants were rather advised that the emphasis should be on individual learning targets so that all students have opportunities to succeed.
EADSNE (2012). Teacher education for inclusion: Profile of inclusive teachers (Denmark: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education) Florian, L. & Black-Hawkins, K. (2011) Exploring inclusive pedagogy. British educational research journal, 37 (5), 813-828. Lieberman, L J., & Block, M. (2017). Inclusive settings in adapted physical activity: a worldwide reality? In: C. D. Ennis (Eds.). Routledge handbook of physical education pedagogies (pp. 262-275). London, UK: Routledge. Rouse, M. and Florian, L. (2012). Teacher education for inclusive education: Final report of the inclusive practice project. Available at: http://www.efds.co.uk/assets/0000/6672/OO195.pdf (accessed Monday 31st August 2015). Makopoulou, K., & Thomas, G. (2017). Educating teachers for effective inclusive pedagogies. In: C. D. Ennis (Eds.). Routledge handbook of physical education pedagogies (pp. 473-484). London, UK: Routledge. Thomas, G. (2013). A review of thinking and research about inclusive education policy, with suggestions for a new kind of inclusive thinking. British Educational Research Journal, 39 (3), 473–490 UNESCO (2017). A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education (Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) UNESCO (2013). Promoting inclusive teacher education curriculum (Bangkok: UNESCO). Wayne, A.J., Suk Yoon, K., Zhu, P., Cronen, S., & Garet, M.S. (2008). Experimenting with teacher professional development: Motives and methods, Educational Researcher. 37 (8), 469-479. Winter, E. & O’Raw, P. (2010) Literature review on the principles and practices relating to inclusive education for children with special educational needs (Trim: National Council for Special Education)
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