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

By Felicity Armstrong; Michele Moore | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

Forging and strengthening alliances

Learning support staff and the challenge of inclusion

Catherine Sorsby

The action research project presented in this chapter emerged from years of personal and professional questioning towards an understanding of the breadth and depth, and the principles and possibilities, which inclusive education provides. For me, action research is about asking questions - questions I need to know the answers to in order to improve my work. It involves wondering why I am doing things in a particular way - particularly if I've been directed to do something I find ineffectual. It doesn'tt matter to me if the questions aren't relevant to the wider audience of the local education authority or DfES. What matters is that through research action I can find a more effective way of achieving something or enhance my support of others. I have discovered that doing action research develops confidence: empowering not only me as the researcher, but also raising the confidence of others whose voices can be heard during the research process. I have found my own action research often challenging the status quo which can be immensely satisfying and enlightening but also unsettling. Either way, doing research can make a major contribution to personal and professional development. This chapter describes the sort of ordinary research action I get involved in, with ordinary people in an ordinary, average school. It provides an insight into the different learning experiences of the staff who participate in research with me and details some of the many unexpected benefits discovered en route. Hopefully it will encourage staff in other schools to undertake similar projects by demonstrating that simple collaborative enquiry can sow the seeds of change far more effectively than the imposition of new policy and practice by traditional 'cascade' models of training and communication.


Support for support staff

Over the course of my career it has concerned me that teams of workers in mainstream schools, frequently referred to as the 'non-teaching staff' or the 'child care assistants' are routinely under-supported. Some have NNEB nursery nurse qualifications whereas others possess few formal academic

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