Implementing Inclusive Education: Issues in Bridging the Policy-Practice Gap: Volume 8

Cover of Implementing Inclusive Education: Issues in Bridging the Policy-Practice Gap

Table of contents

(22 chapters)
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Foreword

Pages xi-xii
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Introduction

Pages xiii-xvii
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Abstract

European-level debates regarding inclusion have most often focussed upon meeting the needs of learners with special educational needs (SEN) which occur as a result of learning difficulty or disability. In most European countries, the conceptualisation of educational inclusion has grown out of discussions surrounding specialist segregated provision, integration and mainstreaming (Donnelly, V. J. (Ed.) (2010). Inclusive education in action: Project framework and rationale. Odense, Denmark: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education). Inclusive education has – until relatively recently – been most often interpreted and understood as primarily concerned with efforts to meet the needs of this group of learners within mainstream and not separate educational contexts.

This chapter considers the differing and constantly changing conceptions of inclusion in countries. It draws on recent European Agency work with member countries that identifies policy and practice developments around inclusion indicating a move in thinking from SEN to special needs education (SNE), then inclusive education towards inclusive education systems.

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Section I: Key Policy Areas for Inclusive Education

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This chapter highlights the importance of providing all children, and particularly those at risk, vulnerable children and children with disabilities, with opportunities for a quality inclusive Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). It first sets out the evidence that quality inclusive ECEC provision is essential for all children to develop their potential and lifelong learning competencies that will ensure their successful participation in school and adult life. It then describes the main international and European policies for inclusive ECEC. A more detailed account is given of the five key principles for action towards improving the quality of ECEC provision developed by the thematic working group of the European Commission (2014) ‘Quality Framework for Early Education and Care’ that are also very similar to those proposed by the OECD (2015) ‘Starting Strong IV’. The concluding section underlines the need to address more strongly the provision of enabling opportunities for accessibility to ECEC of children at risk of exclusion. More importantly, it highlights the need to research and improve not only these children’s presence in ECEC but also their level and quality of active participation and engagement in the social and learning activities of early childhood inclusive provision. The chapter reflects the research and policy development work being undertaken by the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education in its (2015–2017) project on Inclusive Early Childhood Education (IECE) led by the present authors.

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This chapter highlights aspects that are high on the agenda of the financing inclusive education debate: the need to re-think resource allocation mechanisms, the issue of empowerment, the way funding mechanisms support inclusive education, and the importance of appropriate governance and accountability mechanisms. It focuses on critical factors of financing that support the right to education, as outlined in Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) (United Nations, 2006), in a context of financial constraints and explores issues in the policy-practice gap in relation to both national- and European-level policy priorities and objectives. It draws on existing literature on modes of funding, on past research conducted by the European Agency and on the conceptual framework developed within a new European Agency study on current policy and practice in this field.

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This chapter aims to identify and explore those critical factors in relation to teacher education and development that may hinder or support the wider implementation of policy for inclusive education in practice. The chapter considers key issues related to initial teacher education (ITE) and in-service teacher education and continuing professional development (CPD) that appear to be relevant albeit in differing degrees across most European countries.

The chapter builds on initial work completed in the European Agency project on Teacher Education for Inclusion (TE4I). The project concluded that the role of core values for inclusion (particularly in ITE) can be a critical factor in ensuring more inclusive education systems overall (European Agency, 2011, 2012).

A number of policy questions in relation to preparing teaching staff for inclusive education were highlighted in this work, but two critical issues are the focus here:

  • 1. How all relevant policies can support flexible education opportunities in initial and continuing professional development for all teachers.

  • 2. How all teachers can be supported to develop the skills to meet the diverse needs of all learners, including a clear understanding of effective learning strategies, such as learning to learn and active learning approaches.

1. How all relevant policies can support flexible education opportunities in initial and continuing professional development for all teachers.

2. How all teachers can be supported to develop the skills to meet the diverse needs of all learners, including a clear understanding of effective learning strategies, such as learning to learn and active learning approaches.

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Abstract

Vocational Education and Training (VET) prepares citizens to participate in the labour market, but requires continuous development to adapt to the impacts of global trends, to become more attractive and relevant, to support lifelong learning, to encourage creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, and to become more inclusive. European legislation and structural funds improved VET for people with SEN and/or disabilities, for example in the case of the European qualifications framework (EQF) and the national qualifications frameworks (NQFs). NQFs often lead to the development of a national qualifications catalogue, specifying training standards for all, including people with SEN/disabilities, yet with the challenge to achieve the right balance between the flexibility and the standardisation requirements of programmes and procedures. A recent European Agency project investigated the key aspects of VET programmes for learners with SEN and/or disabilities in 26 European countries and identified success factors that contributed to auspicious VET and transition to employment for learners with SEN and/or disabilities. These factors will finalise this chapter showing, in an inclusive design perspective, that they benefit all learners.

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Section II: Support and Provision

Abstract

This chapter builds upon two case studies, in Flensburg (Germany) and Essunga (Sweden), within the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education project Organisation of Provision to Support Inclusive Education (OoP). The cases highlight general policy issues and challenges relating to inclusion in Europe and, more specifically, the complex question of how to change school culture and structures in order to increase the inclusive capability of schools, thereby raising the achievement of all learners. The cases illustrate the need for co-ordinated changes both at municipal-political and administrative level and at school level. The findings also highlight the importance of what Kim and Mauborgne (Kim, W. C., & Mauborgne, R. (2003). Tipping point leadership. Harvard Business Review, April, 61–69.) termed ‘tipping-point leadership’ in a study on positive transformation of the New York Police Department’s culture and structures during the mid-1990s. In Flensburg and Essunga, the leaders at different levels co-operated in an extraordinary situation and created a common crisis awareness among the staff, an understanding of the necessity to change, and ways to support the professional organisation to develop a new, more inclusive thought-action style with greater influence on learner achievement.

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Multicultural and multi-ethnic diversity is increasing across Europe. The current influx of migrants from conflict zones such as Syria and Iraq makes the issue even more important and challenging. Consequently, how we consider the identification of special educational needs (SEN) and then the making of appropriate provision to meet those needs must change. In this chapter we examine the interface between these important factors – SEN and ethnic origin. We draw upon two research programmes in order to highlight these issues. First, we examine large-scale studies using quantitative methods to explore the relationship between ethnicity and different categories of SEN. Second, we report research that uses qualitative methods, exploring the perspectives of children and young people with SEN, growing up in multicultural United Kingdom. Although these research studies were carried out in the United Kingdom, they have resonance across Europe, and beyond.

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Abstract

Within today’s information and knowledge society, learners with disabilities and/or special education needs (SEN) are among the groups most likely to encounter barriers to accessing and using ICT, while at the same time the essential purpose of using ICT in education for learners with disabilities and/or SEN is to promote equity in educational opportunities.

This chapter considers two key issues:

  • Legislation and policy focussing upon rights and entitlements to ICT as an educational equity issue;

  • Access to appropriate ICTs within an accessible and sustainable ICT infrastructure for learners with disabilities and/or SEN.

Legislation and policy focussing upon rights and entitlements to ICT as an educational equity issue;

Access to appropriate ICTs within an accessible and sustainable ICT infrastructure for learners with disabilities and/or SEN.

In the chapter, how international and European level policy impacts upon the use of ICT in inclusive education will be discussed, followed by the presentation of a profile of a fictitious learner with disabilities who uses ICT as a key tool for accessing educational and inclusive learning opportunities. The case study will be used to exemplify the sorts of issues apparent in many different policy and practice situations across Europe.

Based on this discussion, a consideration of the use of ICT in inclusive education as a tool to enable all learners to be empowered in their learning is presented. This discussion leads to the identification of three potential policy levers that should be further exploited in attempts to address the digital divide and ensure all learners benefit from ICT as a tool for accessing inclusive learning opportunities:

  1. Public procurement;

  2. A widespread programme of training for all stakeholders;

  3. School level policies and action plans for ICT.

Public procurement;

A widespread programme of training for all stakeholders;

School level policies and action plans for ICT.

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This chapter draws on the Agency Raising Achievement for all Learners (RA4AL) project to raise policy issues that need to be considered in bringing about greater equality in education systems in order raise the achievement of all learners in inclusive settings. After highlighting policy priorities, the chapter outlines some approaches to raising achievement, supported by country practice examples from Ireland and Germany. The examples focus in particular on local area and school leadership and management of change and collaboration for inclusive practice at school level.

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Section III: Monitoring the Implementation of Inclusive Education

Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of inclusive assessment and discusses some key challenges around the assessment policy-practice gap. It takes a broad perspective of inclusive assessment that includes all learners and focuses on children’s rights to as well as within education. The chapter reflects the research and policy development work on assessment being undertaken internationally, and it particularly draws on the relevant work of the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (the Agency). It first sets out to discuss the concepts of high quality inclusive assessment at policy, local area and school levels. It then provides a detailed account of the main policy issues and challenges that countries commonly face in the implementation of inclusive assessment and suggests ways to address these challenges. The concluding section summarises the main elements of a coherent assessment system that supports the inclusion of all learners.

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Abstract

There is widespread awareness that evidenced-based policy-making is critical for the long-term development of inclusive education systems. Policy-makers, data collection experts and researchers are aware of the need for data collection at national level that not only meets the requirements of international policy guidelines, but also works within a shared approach so as to promote a synergy of efforts at national and international levels.

Monitoring inclusive education at the system level is increasingly seen as a priority for country and EU level decision-makers. However, what form this monitoring should take and what issues it should focus upon are less clear.

This chapter looks across a number of recent European Agency studies in order to highlight and consider key issues and questions in relation to monitoring the implementation of inclusive education in terms of a system’s efficiency, effectiveness and ability to be equitable for all learners.

By drawing upon the findings of European Agency work considering a range of policy priority areas, it is possible to highlight a number of common factors that apply to monitoring the dimensions of efficiency, effectiveness and equity in different educational contexts or systems.

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Abstract

The work of the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education is mainly targeted towards policy-makers – decision-makers responsible for the development and implementation of policy for inclusive education. However, in order to inform this work in the best ways, the contributions of other stakeholder groups are crucial. One such stakeholder group is the end users of inclusive education – young people with and without special educational needs or disabilities educated in schools and universities across Europe.

This chapter focuses upon the voices of such young people and presents their views on inclusive education in relation to a number of key factors. The chapters draw on the contributions of over 300 young people involved in four parliament ‘hearings’ organised by the European Agency in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.

The chapter starts from the principle that the voices of young people in education must be listened to when other stakeholders are considering policies for special needs and inclusive education. Their views, experiences and opinions need to be respected and fully taken into account in the work of practitioners, researchers and policy-makers.

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About the Authors

Pages 281-282
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Index

Pages 283-292
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Cover of Implementing Inclusive Education: Issues in Bridging the Policy-Practice Gap
DOI
10.1108/S1479-363620168
Publication date
2016-08-08
Book series
International Perspectives on Inclusive Education
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-388-7
Book series ISSN
1479-3636