Staff support for inclusion: an international study
The idea for this research emerged following previous experiences in schools in Germany and England, noting their differences and similarities, and their equally persistent problems responding to diversity inclusively. The thesis consists of an in-depth exploration of cultures, policies and practices in schools and their rationales regarding the development of inclusion in education.\ud \ud At the core of the thesis are responses to diversity I perceived in two primary schools, one in London and one in Berlin, focusing in particular on the active participation of staff. My experiences were systematised through an international, ethnographic case study approach, which included six months fieldwork, as a participant observer, conducting semistructured interviews and exploring school documents. I investigated the participation of children, parents and staff – the three main groups of people in the schools – looking at their roles, their interaction and the barriers they experience. I related my findings to current notions of inclusion and responses to diversity in education, both in the respective literature and in policy documents, highlighting local, national and international differences, their mismatch with educational practice and resulting discriminatory effects.\ud \ud I found the active participation of staff to be an essential condition for inclusion in education, which has so far been treated peripherally. The barriers they experience to their own participation limit their capacity to respond inclusively to diversity and to establish communities in which everyone, all children and all adults, are valued equally. Additionally, parents and children were found to be potential contributors to developments towards inclusion, but were often excluded from contributing to developments in educational practice, so their potential strengths as resources for inclusion were lost.\ud \ud Consequently, I argue that any approach to inclusion in education has to increase the participation of staff, as well as being supported through the contributions of children and parents. I suggest a model for inclusive school development: namely, a collaborative process between all concerned, to increasingly mobilise the individual strengths of adults and children to support the participation of all: children, parents and staff.
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