Action Research for Inclusive Education: Changing Places, Changing Practice, Changing Minds

By Felicity Armstrong; Michele Moore | Go to book overview
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Chapter 5

Students who challenge

Reducing barriers to inclusion

Linda Simpson

This chapter explores a multi-dimensional approach to practitioner research and reflects on how the outcomes from a small-scale project can help to build and develop a collaborative, problem-solving approach to reducing barriers to inclusion. Inclusive education, however, is not a 'quick fix' (Corbett, 2001). Real change takes time and the move towards an inclusive community presents many challenges for schools. We are, in my own school (an 11-18 comprehensive), at the beginning of an exploration into our culture, ethos and practice from which we can develop inclusive policies. This action research project forms only one small element in the move towards this goal.

We are on the brink of a detailed self-review, using the Index for Inclusion (Ainscow and Booth, 2002) as a framework. Action research will provide an additional strand in finding out more about the school from both 'macro' and 'micro' levels and help to deepen our knowledge and understanding of individual learners.

Much of my work as a Learning Support Co-ordinator involves critical reflection and evaluation through a process not dissimilar to the cyclical nature of action research, involving identification, planning, implementation and review and aiming to improve practice by 'trying to induce beneficial change' (Bassey, 1995, p. 6). As a practitioner with a whole-school brief, I feel action research could be a very powerful and influential catalyst for change.

Arguably some of the biggest barriers to learning and participation are related to issues of challenging behaviour, and this is certainly the case in my own school and many others. Corbett raises the difficult question 'Is including children with challenging behaviours an inclusion too far?' (Corbett, 2001, p. 27).

The issues, understandings, perceptions and arguments surrounding the inclusion of this varied group of children are very wide-ranging and vary from context to context. How, for example, could challenging behaviour be defined within my own school? Could I assume there is a shared understanding among staff and how could 'connective pedagogies' best be

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