Aims

What were the main aims of the initiative?

The work is the result of a doctoral study entitled Inclusive Path: the road of the school towards the inclusion of students with special educational needs. The qualitative investigation carried out through a case study, sought to analyse the development of the knowledge and skills mobilised and produced by the school and the teachers that has been successful in the schooling of students with special educational needs, although the staff may lack specialised education/training to respond to inclusive policies.

The results of the study showed that the better practices for the school, where the key actors are the teachers, resulted from a process of re-interpretation of the stereotypes and the preconceptions that surround the question of the inclusion of the students with special educational needs. The mobilisation occurred and the knowledge increased essentially through the context of the work, that promoted the construction of a new educational professionalism and the reconfiguration of personal and professional identities, that began to incorporate the theme of inclusion as an aspect of life and of the teaching profession.

The study confirmed the hypothesis that the schools and the teachers are producers of knowledge and skills that are successful and can help to support the ideas and practices in an inclusive environment.

What were the main aims of the initiative?

The investigation sought to understand what knowledge and skills were gained by the school and their teachers through their work to include students with SEN.


Background

Location, setting, Scope, key events etc.

The context of the study is the city of Bagé, which has 120,000 inhabitants and is situated in the region of the Prairie of the Southern Rio Grande, Brazil. The city, from the year 2005, joined in with the national politics of inclusive education of the Department of Education and committed to implement in its system inclusive educational actions. This commitment was a stimulus for a series of actions by the local Government, that began to develop specific work to guarantee the right of access and the continued success of students with special educational needs.

This commitment was centred in the Municipal schools that needed to be re-organised to comply with the proposal of education for all and achieved some success. The case study school was chosen in recognition of its very inclusive work by the Department of Education and other schools in the network, and also through the recognition of the school community, professors, students and parents and others in the local community. The school practice embodies definite concepts on inclusive education and shows the presence of practices, political commitment and a culture of inclusion (Index for Inclusion, 2002).

The school is a small educational institution, with few resources, with nearly 100 students, including ten with special educational needs – including cerebral palsy (1) Down Syndrome (3), cognitive delay (4), Fragile X syndrome (1) behavioural difficulties (1). The physical space is made up of 6 classrooms, a dining room and a small play area.

The school staff is composed of six teachers who teach preschool to fifth year of grade school and employees that are in charge of the diet of the children and the administration of the institution. There is also a teacher of specialised educational services who works in the school three times a week, alternating early and late shifts.


ISSUES ADDRESSED

What issues/challenges does the example address?

The questions that oriented the investigation were: How the teachers, in spite of the lack of specific planning for work in the political context of inclusion, could teach in a way that responds to the characteristics of their students and promotes learning? What knowledge and skills do they develop when involved in the education of students with special educational needs? Were such knowledge and skills mobilised from the belief that education in ordinary schools is the right of the students or due to the politics of inclusion adopted by the Department of Education of the City? What conditions lead to successful experiences in the school environment? How does knowledge produced by the action of the school impact on the politics?

 


Implementation

How was the Initiative implemented?

The study proposal is affiliated to the models of investigation that take the school as a true space of change (Whiteaker, 1999; Alarcão, 2000; Bolivar, 2007). According to Smith (2000) and Bressoux (1994), the models that support these studies, called ‘Schools can make a difference’ try to clarify the positive effects of the school in the life of the students, even when they do not have all the characteristics and ideal conditions. The authors state that, nevertheless, the existence of certain internal conditions in the institutions can positively affect the success of the work carried out.

The qualitative investigation was carried out by means of a case study. The empirical data were collected by the use of focus groups, interviews, observations of field experiences and diaries and writings by the teachers about their experiences.


KEY OUTCOMES & Lessons Learned

What where the key Outcomes? What impact/added value did they prove? What were the biggest challenges?

The results of the investigation show that the good practices come from:

  • the construction of plural knowledge built individually and collectively, mainly in the place of work;
  • the recognition of the sadness caused by the loss of the ‘ideal student’ in order to achieve the acceptance of difference as a value inherent in human beings;
  • the re-interpretation of the stereotypes and the prejudices relating to the students with SEN, to allow them to be seen as having potential;
  • the re-interpretation of the concept of inclusion and the politics of inclusive education so it is not seen negatively, as the inclusion of students with special educational needs in the school without the resources and the necessary support;
  • the construction of a new professionalism for education staff and the re-configuration of the personal identity and professional role of school staff, to incorporate the theme of inclusion as an aspect of life and their profession;
  • the construction of a collective identity and the institutional framework that has inclusion as a value that defines the work carried out in the school;
  • the management of the school, that takes the theme as central and seeks the working conditions to guarantee the process of inclusion;
  • the existence of a school climate characterised by mutual respect, and by a culture of collaborative organisation;
  • the presence of specialised support in the school, through the Municipal inclusive education team and of the teacher from the specialised service, who develops the tacit and intuitive knowledge of the teachers gradually, to be expanded and passed on to constitute specialised knowledge and skills on the theme. These are then transformed into professional knowledge, that leads to understanding of the cognitive rationality on which the pedagogical action with the students with special educational needs is based;
  • the construction of a pedagogical political project, based on the recognition of differences as means to change policies towards inclusive education;
  • the emotional dimension of teaching;
  • the assumption on the part of the school that they have a leading role in the production of knowledge that supports inclusive practices;
  • the construction of the political, practical dimensions and culture of inclusion that allows access and the continuance of all the students in the school.


EVALUATION

Has the initiative been evaluated or are there plans for this in the future?

No information available


FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS / SUSTAINABILITY

Have any plans been made for future direction of the initiative?

No information available

 


Materials

Are there further information about supporting materials?

Publications

ALARCÃO, I. (2000) Escola reflexiva e supervisão: uma escola em desenvolvimento e aprendizagem. Porto: Porto Editora

BOLIVAR, A. (2007) Um olhar actual sobre a mudança educativa: onde situar os esforços de melhoria? In: LEITE, C.; LOPES, A. Escola, Currículo e Formação de identidades. Porto: ASA

BRESSOUX, Pascoal. (1994) Les recherches sur les effets-écoles et les effets-maîtres. In: Revue française de pédagogie, n. 108, jul-ago-set

SMITH, J. (1993) The organization of effective secondary schools In: DARLING-HAMMOND, L. Review of research in education. Washington, DC: American Education Research Association

WHITAKER, P. (1999) Gerir a mudança nas escolas. Porto: ASA


ContacT

Reference Link: www.inclusive-education-in-action.org/046EN

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Amélia Rota Borges de Bastos

Professora Doutora da Universidade Federal do Pampa - Bagé-Rio Grande do Sul/Brasil

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