04 SES 05 A, Barriers for (Promoting) Inclusion I
Parallel Paper Session
The creation of schools networks is one of the most widely recognised strategies for improvement and quality in education, lauded for its contribution to the design of local inclusive education projects. Well-known European proposals include the British Education Action Zones, Excellence in Cities, and the Great Manchester Challenge (Halping et al, 2004; Kendall et al, 2005; Ainscow & West, 2008); the German Network of Innovative Schools, and the Good Hope Project in Portugal (OECD, 2003). All of these experiences emphasise the importance of schools networks as a strategy of collaboration capable of breaking with the isolated work of schools, promoting communities of learning in which schools and teachers learn from and with each other. The processes involved in this collaboration, however, are complex. These studies and their reviews point to a series of contextual, organisational, motivational, attitudinal, management and leadership factors which must be considered if we wish our teachers and school collaboration networks to be successful (Atkinson, Springate, Johnson & Halsey, 2007, Pijl, 2010, Winkelman, 2011).
This paper aims to present and analyse the formation of an inter-school network which promotes inclusive education, encompassing a study of its trajectory, perspectives and valuations of the participants and processes involved. The information presented forms part of on-going research, which aims to design, develop and evaluate a local inclusive education project. Six state-funded nursery and primary schools from the same town participate in the study, as do diverse educational and social organisms and agents.
The research project was designed in a three stage process: within the school, between schools, and within the local community. In the first phase, the teaching team in each school worked on the design and development of a project of improvement and training that would better their institution's treatment of diversity. It was in the second phase of the study that an inter-school network was formed, involving leadership, teachers, project coordinators and students from the six schools. This network was constituted around spaces for debate and collaborative activities (inter-school meetings, joint sessions, committees, etc.). The third and final stage centred around the creation of a local inclusive education network, including the local community and its socio-educational institutions (local council, Ministry of Education, Social Services) in the improvement processes initiated in the schools.
In this paper our focus is on the second stage of the study, in which the inter-school network was created, with the objective of responding to the following questions:
- How do schools networks work?
- What collaborative activities take place in the network?
- What effect does the schools network have on the development of inclusion?
 “Schools on the path to educational inclusion: work with local community, student voice and educational support to promote change.” Ref. EDU2011-29928-C03-01. Directed by Ángeles Parrilla.
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