04 SES 09 D, Inclusion: Deconstructing Rhetoric To Promote Organisational Change
Keywords: inclusion, inclusive education, educational psychological services, school organizational development, special needs education.
In Norway, inclusive education is understood as a right for all children to attend the neighbourhood school, to be part of unstreamed classes, and for children who “…either do not or are unable to benefit satisfactorily from the education program”, receive special education support (Education Act, section 5-1). Further, the Education Act emphasises adaptive education as the foundation for all teaching, promoting learning and well-being, both for high performing learners and learners with special educational needs. Adapted education is emphasised as the gateway to inclusive education, striving for fellowship, participation, democratization and benefit of education. Other concepts describing the Norwegian education aspirations are equity, quality, justice and diversity (Booth, 1996; Haug, 2003, 2010). These values provide a direction for organisational change towards more inclusive schools – values to convert into decisions and action in schools everyday practice.
To realize the ambition of high-quality education for pupils with special educational needs, a nationwide network of Educational Psychological Services (hereafter EPS) is established at the municipal and county level. The EPS is assigned a dual responsibility: to assist the schools competence enhancement and organisational development in order to improve the adaptation of the education for pupils with special needs, and to prepare expert assessments when required to clarify the right to special education (Education Act, section 5-6; Moen, Rismark, Samuelsen, & Sølvberg, 2018). However, studies indicate that the EPS-counsellors primarily are focusing on the child’s development and learning by looking at conditions within the individual. The special education arrangements provided as results of the expert assessments are highly criticized. To a large degree, special education is provided by unskilled employees and assistants, and carried out in segregated, out-of-class-settings (Haug, 2017; Hustad, Strøm, & Strømsvik, 2013; Mathiesen & Vedøy, 2012). This individual approach has been challenged by a relational understanding (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012; Norwich, 2008), advocating a systemic approach, citizenship and in-class support, where every child is seen as integrated members of the class and school community (Booth & Ainscow, 2011; Fasting & Breilid, 2018; Haug, 2003).
Using the EPS-counsellor’s dual responsibility and the idea of inclusion as the point of departure, inclusion can be understood and realised in different ways. From one perspective, the focus is directed towards the individual child’s learning difficulties and needs, the caregivers’ and teachers’ support and child-peer interaction. The idea is to support the individual child’s overall needs. A wider perspective focuses on how the school as a community of professionals, interact and create learning environments promoting equity, participation, fellowship and respect for diversity (Booth & Ainscow, 2011; Fasting & Breilid, 2018; Haug, 2003). Taken together, it is crucial to include both perspectives to create in-school dialogues developing high quality and inclusive special education.
Based on the outlined perspectives and the criticism of special educational practice (Dyssegaard & Larsen, 2013; Haug, 2017; The children's Ombudsman, 2017), and criticism of the Norwegian EPS role regarding education for pupils with special needs (Nordahl, 2018), it is of interest to investigate if and how the EPS-counsellor can take the role as a dialogic partner to help schools developing more inclusive practices. Hence, the aim of this study is to explore how and in what ways the EPS-counsellors facilitate organizational learning to strengthen the idea of inclusive classrooms and schools.In other words, can EPS school counselling, based on a broad understanding of inclusion, promote democratisation, inclusive environments, participation, community, and high-quality learning for pupils with special needs?
Sixty-seven project reports from an EPS-counsellors training program focusing organisational change and inclusive values, SEVU-PPT 2013 – 2018, is the empirical basis in the study. The SEVU-PPT training program uses a broad understanding of inclusion to initiate collaborative actions, promoting fellowship, participation, democratization and benefit of education. The research design uses content analysis (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005; Krippendorff, 2004) to extract the initiatives and interventions in the EPS-counsellor reports. The design is based on two intertwining approaches, summative content analysis (SC-analysis), and directed content analysis (DC-analysis). The initial SC-analysis explore the reports use of concepts that promotes inclusive values and benefit of education. The following DC-analysis extracts samples that illustrate the initiatives and measures taken. The first analysis is deductively driven, while the following analysis uses a descriptive approach. In total, the analytic processes facilitate an abductive driven study combining theoretical driven concepts and categories to explore the EPS-counsellors’ initiatives and actions, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. The analysis intends to outline how the project reports describe the strategies and initiatives taken to develop a more inclusive school culture and practice.
We expect the project reports explicitly link competence enhancement and organisational change to terms as fellowship, participation, democratization and benefit of education to improve participation and benefit of schooling for pupils with special needs. Furthermore, we expect to find a coherent set of indicators describing the actions and means taken, to safeguard and promote inclusion at different organisational levels (state/municipality/school). These strategies and initiatives may serve as a knowledge base, both for schools and professionals, as paths towards more inclusive education contexts. In addition, we expect that the findings show that EPS-counsellors, in the role of a collaborative change agent, take a clear position on the organizational level to develop more inclusive school cultures
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