04 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session - NW 04
General Poster Session
Like many European countries, the educational policy of Finland has its roots on worldwide accepted international agreements that emphasize inclusive values; equality, participation and right to joint services (UN, 1993; Salamanca proclamation UNESCO, 1994; Dacar 2000). These core values ought to be found also from Finnish educational documents and they should be heard in the discourse of the special education teachers and principals who work in primary education. We study the possible connection between the values found in the policy texts and the discourses of the special education teachers and principals. The research questions are: “How equity and respect for diversity come true in Finnish educational policy documents?” and “Are inclusive values to be heard in the speech of the part time special educators and principals who implement the policies in primary education?”
In Finland the state has a central role in steering and guiding local authorities. The Education and Research Development Plan has been composed by the government every four years and this policy document directs the implementation of education and research. (Ministry of Education and Culture, 2014.) The policy is formed in society through legislation, social and political structures, institutional and institutionalized practices and discourses (Armstrong 2003, 5). According to Fulcher (1999) policy is a product that can be written like laws, reports, and regulations. It is stated or enacted, of the outcome of political states of play in various arenas (Armstrong 2003, 8).
The main steering document and formal national expression will in the Finnish education policy has been the Government’s Development Plan for Education and Research, which is focused on in the first research question. In this presentation the Government’s Development Plan for Education and Research from years 1999–2004 and years 2011–2016 and the concept of equality and respect for diversity developed during those years will be analysed.
Currently, the Finnish educational system is going through an inclusive reform. The same proses is going on around the world. The century-long development of special education has been presented as a transfer from exclusion to inclusion. In practice it means shifting from special schools to education for all children in joint settings (Borider 1991, 1219–21). The idea of the reform is that pupils’ support moves from special classes or from segregating setting to the shared classrooms. By these new ideas every teacher in primary education supports pupils with special needs. Part time special education teacher’s role is changing and co-teaching and consultation between teachers has become a more common way of working. Principals enable the change to school level. That’s why part time special educators and principles’ values and views are particularly important.
In Finland the state has a central role in steering and guiding local authorities. The Education and Research Development Plan is composed by the government every four years and this policy document directs the implementation of the education and research. (Ministry of Education and Culture, 2014.) The policy is formed in society through legislation, social and political structures, institutional and institutionalized practices and discourses (Armstrong 2003, 5). According to Fulcher (1999) policy is a product that can be written like laws, reports, and regulations. It is stated or enacted, of the outcome of political states of play in various arenas (Armstrong 2003, 8). The examination of policy and implementation is leading on these theories. In this study we have analysed the Government’s Development Plan for Education and Research from years 1999–2004 and years 2011–2016. According to Wolff (2006) and Hodder (2000) the documents are artefacts that are intended for a defined circle of involved recipients. These official documents also function as institutionalized traces, which mean that they may legitimately be used to make conclusions about the intentions and ideas of the organisations they represent. These documents represent an independent level of data despite in what circumstances they have been made for (Wolff 2004, 288; Hodder 2000, 704–705.) The materials were analysed through close reading, seeking for similarities and differences. For the second research question we have interviewed part time special teachers and principals (N= 16). They form 8 independent pairs (teacher and principal) who work at the same primary schools. By using these pairs we want to get a better understanding of the implementation of inclusive values in each school. The interviews were transcribed from recordings and the next step is a theory based analyse of the values the interviewees talked about.
The strongest emphasis in Finnish educational policy seems to be on equality of opportunity (Kalalahti & Varjo 2012). Today, increasingly, equality means that all students should reach high learning outcomes. However, the role of special educational needs and disability has diminished. Educational policy entitles, or even demands, that the speed of advancement has to be faster and faster and at the same time outcomes of highly successful pupils are valued. The word “disability” isn’t mentioned in the newer policy document. The question to be made is weather it tells about ambition to change the language as less stigmatising or it means that the particular group of learners isn’t in the focus of policymakers. The values in the latter policy document emphasised individuality and active role of learners. Values have become harder in terms of children with special needs. The second research question focuses on special educators and principle discourses concerning everyday implementation of inclusive education policy in primary education. We want to study how the part time special educators and principles talk about the support they carry out as professionals in a primary education and are the inclusive values to be found in their discourse. We also want to figure out how the inclusive education policy has been implemented. The analysis of research data is just starting, and it is too early for even preliminary results or making conclusions about results. We expect that schools differ from each other in terms of implementation of inclusive values. We have to wait for the results of the second research question about part time special education teachers and principals before final conclusions about the possible contrast or analogous between the values written in Finnish education policy and implementation of the inclusive support exists can be made. The results will be ready before autumn.
Armstrong, F. 2003b. Spaced out: policy, difference and the challenge of inclusive education. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic; London. Hodder, I. 2000. The interpretation of documents and material culture. Teoksessa N.K. Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (toim.) Handbook of Qualitative Research. 2. ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications,703‒716. Kalalahti, M. & Varjo, J. 2012. Tasa-arvo ja oikeudenmukaisuus perusopetukseen sijoittumisessa ja valikoitumisessa. Kasvatus & Aika 6 (1), 39–55. Ministry of Education and Culture, Koulutus ja tutkimus vuosina 1999‒2004. Kehittämissuunnitelma. Helsinki: Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö. Ministry of Education and Culture, Koulutus ja tutkimus vuosina 2011–2016. Kehittämissuunnitelma. 2012. Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön julkaisuja 2012:1. Helsinki: Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö. Ministry of Education and Culture, Koulutuspolitiikka. 2013. Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö http://www.minedu.fi/OPM/Koulutus/koulutuspolitiikka/?lang=fi read 10.3.2014 Wolff, A. 2006. Analysis of documents and records. Teoksessa U. Flick, E. von Kardorff & I. O. Steinke (toim.) A companion to qualfitative research. London: Sage Publications, 284‒289.
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