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Article
Publication date: 7 June 2024

Josefine Wagner and Nikolett Szelei

The purpose of this study is to highlight a paradox between inclusion/exclusion at the level of the organisation and classroom practices, as well as between general and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to highlight a paradox between inclusion/exclusion at the level of the organisation and classroom practices, as well as between general and disability/special educational needs (SEN)-specific approaches to diversity in the classroom. The authors recommend better alignment between school policies and teaching practices to offer all students an equal chance to benefit from inclusive pedagogies.

Design/methodology/approach

This study analyses a school that has gained public reputation as an innovative, inclusive school in Austria. Applying a case study with an ethnographic methodological approach, the authors explore what strategies are implemented to become more inclusive at the level of school organisation and classroom practices? What are the pedagogical beliefs and actions relating to diversity that drive inclusive efforts? How is this school's general approach to diversity enacted with students with SEN?

Findings

The findings show that context-specific circumstances shape inclusive school development, which comes with a set of affordances and challenges. The authors argue that in this case, striving for inclusion indicated two ways of “doing difference differently”. First, the school has built on many cornerstones of inclusion when relating and responding to student diversity, that was remarkably different than in other mainstream schools in Austria. On the contrary, while creating new educational and pedagogical norms, it also recycled conventional segregating tendencies, and as such, reproduced hierarchised difference, but in other ways than schools typically do in mainstream schooling.

Originality/value

This school and its pedagogical mission have never been analysed through the rich data that two researchers were able to gather and work through.

Details

Quality Assurance in Education, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0968-4883

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