unlocking research series
Educators today face two major challenges. The first, is to develop an education system which meets the needs of an ever more diverse student population. The second, is to successfully implement such a system. This requires nothing less than a revolutionary transformation of current approaches taken to education (Mitchell, 2018). Inclusion is understood differently by different interest groups. Whilst it is often viewed narrowly in relationship to the education of children identified with Special Educational Needs, in its broadest sense, it requires schools to find ways of creating inclusive spaces, both actual and metaphorical, for all members of their communities – children, their families as well as professionals. Questions of equity, not only in schools but also in society arise (see list attached). How do schools include the diverse diversities represented in their communities? And, equally important, more globally to represent the diverse complexities of a super-globalised world? Where are the tensions and where are the synergies? How might these tensions resolved and how can we, as researchers and practitioners, hold ourselves to account, by challenging our own social and cultural preconceptions and misunderstandings?
In relation to the 2019 cross party report into SEND education, the state of inclusion in schools suggests a stark picture; it is a damming document. In recent times, issues of inclusion have extended to the diverse communities that schools across the country serve; the story of the challenges and possibilities of inclusion is a global one. In the UK in 2019, protests were conducted outside Birmingham Primary Schools angry that schools were addressing matters related to LGBT+ education, identity and inclusion. Families often feel marginalized and are labelled as hard to reach (Goodall, 2018). We know that schools and communities are affected by poor funding and a system that has suffered under austerity policies since 2010. But regardless of the failing at a systems level, we also know that there are numerous examples of outstanding practice across the primary sector that need to be shared to counteract more negative preceptions: we need to identify quality inclusive practices and promote them widely.
In a super-globalised world in which diverse diversities exist and in which identity, society, culture is much more fluid than in the past, our book will expand understandings of inclusion in state funded schools. It will include voices from across the globe as well as within England. It will share examples of pedagogies and approaches that are principled and research informed that can contribute to the discourse about the purposes of education – extending beyond the Cambridge Primary Review which articulated similar questions. It will problematise the challenges of a truly inclusive education. There will be three sections within the book–Society, School and System—with chapters written collaboratively to bind theory, research and practice.
KRISTINE BLACK-HAWKINS & ASH SMITH