01 SES 13 A, Inclusive Responses to Diversity through Child-Teacher Dialogue
This symposium will focus on the issue of including all children in schools, a challenge faced by teachers across Europe (Corak, 2004). This challenge is becoming more urgent with the arrival of migrant and refugee families.
In relation to this agenda, the importance of engaging with the views of students is increasingly recognised (Dusi and Steinbach, 2016; Messiou and Azaola, 2017). Though there is research that has involved students in commenting on practical aspects of schooling, much less research has focused on using their ideas to improve learning and teaching. Furthermore, existing research is mostly set in secondary schools. Following a recent research review, one of the suggestions for future research is that “primary pupils and teachers can work together to co-produce and co-research teaching and learning within schools.” (Robinson, 2014, p. 24).
Recognising these needs and building on our previous research, this symposium will report and discuss the findings of the first phase of a three-year study, funded by the European Union (Reaching the ‘hard to reach’: Inclusive responses to diversity through child-teacher dialogue, 2017-2020) that sets out to fill these gaps. It involves partner primary schools and universities in five European countries (Austria, Denmark, England, Portugal and Spain) in carrying out a programme of collaborative action research in relation to the following research question:
How can we reach out to all learners, especially those that are seen as ‘hard to reach’, through the use of ‘Inclusive Inquiry’, a model for the development of learning and teaching?
An innovative feature of this study is that children (especially those that are seen to be hard to reach) are trained as researchers in order to collect and analyse the views of their classmates. This is intended to lead them to have dialogues with their teachers and classmates in order to develop more inclusive practices.
The research builds on the findings of our earlier study, “Responding to diversity by engaging with students’ voices: a strategy for teacher development”, funded by the European Union Comenius Multilateral project (2011-2014). The findings of this earlier project led us to formulate the following propositions that guide our approach for fostering the capacity of teachers to respond to student diversity:
· The views of students can help us to be more sensitive to issues of diversity and the ways that we organise learning in schools.
· Engaging with the views of others can stimulate professional discussion and experimentation amongst practitioners
· Collaboration is needed amongst teachers in order to support the introduction of new ways of working. This requires organisational flexibility and an emphasis on mutual support.
· Learning from differences is likely to be challenging of the status quo within a school.
Evidence from this earlier research is reported in a series of internationally refereed research journals (Ainscow, 2016; Messiou et al., 2016, Messiou and Ainscow, 2015; Messiou and Hope, 2015). These papers demonstrate that the use of the teacher development model did lead to changes in practice in the participating secondary schools. Similarly, it is anticipated that, through the use of the model and the development of appropriate techniques and tools, thinking and practice within participating primary schools will change. We also know from our previous work that the collaborative aspect of the model encourages the sharing of good practice and joint practice development amongst practitioners. At the same time, we expect that the quality of student and staff relationships will develop. As a result, students are likely to become better socially integrated and more engaged in classroom activities, not least because they are actively involved with others in improving their own learning.
Ainscow, M. (2016) Collaboration as a strategy for promoting equity in education: possibilities and barriers. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 1 (2), 159 – 172. Corak, M. (Ed.). (2004). Generational income mobility in North America and Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dusi, P., and M. Steinbach. (2016) Voices of Children and Parents from Elsewhere: A Glance at Integration in Italian Primary Schools. International Journal of Inclusive Education 20 (8): 816–827. Messiou, K., and Ainscow, M. (2015). Responding to learner diversity: Student views as a catalyst for powerful teacher development? Teaching and Teacher Education, 51, 246–255. Messiou, K., Ainscow, M., Echeita, G., Goldrick, S., Hope, M., Paes, I., Sandoval, M., Simon, C. and Vitorino, T. (2016). Learning from differences: A strategy for teacher development in respect to student diversity. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 27(1), 45–61. Messiou, K., and Azaola, M. (2017). A peer-mentoring scheme for immigrant students in English secondary schools: a support mechanism for promoting inclusion? International Journal of Inclusive Education. DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2017.1362047. Messiou, K., & Hope, M. (2015). The danger of subverting students’ views in schools. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 19(10), 1009–1021. Robinson, C. (2014) Children, their Voices and their Experiences of School: what does the evidence tell us? (CPRT Research Survey 2), York: Cambridge Primary Review Trust.
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