National R+D+i (2019-2023). School management leadership and its contribution to improving inclusion in compulsory education

Call: 2019 Call for R&D&I projects within the framework of the State Programmes for the Generation of Knowledge and Scientific and Technological Strengthening of the R&D System and R&D Oriented towards the Challenges of Society.

Funding Entity: State Research Agency. Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Participating entities: University of Granada; University of Huelva; University of Jaén and University of Seville.

Reference: PID2019-106250RB-I000

PIs: María del Carmen López López and María José León Guerrero Number of participating researchers: 21

One of the main challenges of the 21st century is to achieve just, egalitarian and inclusive societies. However, there will be no inclusive societies if we do not have inclusive schools that guarantee quality education for all students (UNDP, 2015).

Inclusive education is an important element in national and international education policy agendas. However, the mere existence of such policies committed to equity, respect for diversity and the eradication of discrimination does not guarantee the development of truly inclusive education in practice.

Inclusion is a project to be consolidated that requires collective and institutional commitments, in which schools and management teams play a key role. It requires a closer relationship between researchers (theory) and school professionals (practice) in a common action, because it is the institutions that, from within and in collaboration with each other, must carry out the necessary changes to open the way to inclusion.

This research project builds on work that highlights the need for the research process itself to be democratic, participatory and inclusive. The objectives are shared and negotiated during the research itself and give the research community the task of monitoring progress, proposing solutions, or identifying innovative, scalable and transferable good practices (UNESCO & other organisations, 2016).

In this sense, we have relevant contributions that provide instruments and indicators that can help to analyse the actions carried out by schools, school leaders and teachers; to clarify the foundations on which they are based; and to identify weak points that help to face future innovation and improvement processes with greater guarantees of success. Positions such as these, which recognise the need to establish collective commitments (teachers, school leaders, families, …), allow for coordinated and sustained actions over time that favour the development of more inclusive institutional initiatives.

This study aims to determine whether, at present, school leadership teams in compulsory education schools play roles that are conducive to inclusion in their institutions. School leaders’ commitment to equity and social justice is a key factor to consider in inclusion processes (Conrad & Brown, 2011; León, 2012; Gómez-Hurtado & Ainscow, 2014; Murrillo & Hernández, 2014, Wang, 2018). The goals of the study are three:

1. To find out about the actions taken by school leaders to promote inclusion in compulsory education schools.

2. To explore the potential of participatory action research as a strategy to improve the inclusion of all students in compulsory education schools in Andalusia and the professional development of school leaders.

3. To provide compulsory education centres with tools and experiences that promote innovation and permanent improvement of the educational institution.

It is a mixed research that combines quantitative and qualitative methods (Creswell, 2014, Wood & Smith (2018). The first phase is quantitative and is a descriptive survey study. The second phase of the research is aimed at deepening the object of study in specific school contexts and promoting improvement processes aimed at making compulsory education centres more inclusive environments.