Collaboration as a strategy for promoting equity in education: possibilities and barriers

Mel Ainscow ( University of Manchester Manchester United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland )

Journal of Professional Capital and Community

ISSN: 2056-9548

Publication date: 3 March 2016

Abstract

Purpose

This paper draws on the findings of a program of research, which, over many years, has explored ways of promoting greater equity in schools and education systems. Using examples from the field, the paper provides an explanation of what this involves. In so doing it identifies potential barriers that have to be addressed and suggestions as to how these might be overcome.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper refelects on a series of studies what uses a ‘development and research’ approach This is one of a family of methodologies referred to by as ‘design-based implementation research’. These aim to transcend traditional research/practice barriers to facilitate the design of educational interventions that are ‘effective, sustainable, and scalable’. They are seen as occurring when researcher and practitioner knowledge meet in particular sites, aimed at producing new knowledge about ways in which broad values might better be realized in future practice.

Findings

The experiences described in this article suggest a way forward that policy makers could use to ensure that the impetus that comes from greater school autonomy will lead to improvements that will benefit all children and young people. This is based on an assumption that education systems have further potential to improve themselves, provided policy makers allow the space for practitioners to make use of the expertise and creativity that lies trapped within individual classrooms. The aim must be to ‘move knowledge around’ and the best way to do this is through strengthening collaboration within schools, between schools and beyond schools.

Research limitations/implications

In thinking about how the approach described might be used more widely it is essential to recognize that it does not offer a simple recipe that can be lifted and transferred between contexts. Rather, it defines an approach to improvement that uses processes of contextual analysis in order to create strategies that fit particular circumstances.

Practical implications

The experiences described in this article suggest a way forward that policy makers could use to ensure that the impetus that comes from greater school autonomy will lead to improvements that will benefit all children and young people. This is based on an assumption that education systems have further potential to improve themselves, provided policy makers allow the space for practitioners to make use of the expertise and creativity that lies trapped within individual classrooms.

Originality/value

The article draws together findings from an extensive programme of research in order to develop new thinking regarding ways of promoting equity in education.

Citation

Ainscow, M. (2016), "Collaboration as a strategy for promoting equity in education: possibilities and barriers", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 1 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPCC-12-2015-0013

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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