leadership roles in schools. It provides evidence from

leadership roles in schools. It provides evidence from case studies of leadership practicein three countries to address the overall question, “What types of leadership practicefoster inclusion in schools?” The data from these studies will be examined within atheoretical framework that both throws light on the impact of contextual, cultural andcommunity influences on such leadership practices and then allows for the emergence ofthemes across these diverse settings.Defining ‘inclusive education’The issue of inclusion is high on the educational reform agenda in the United Kingdomand overseas. In the United States, it is generally thought of as an approach to servingchildren with disabilities within general education settings. Internationally, inclusiveeducation has broader aims and is defined as a reform that supports and welcomesdiversity among all learners. The research reported in this paper applies this broadeneddefinition. The aim of inclusive education is understood as eliminating social exclusionthat is a consequence of responses to diversity in race, social class, ethnicity, religion,gender and ability (Vitello and Mithaug, 1998). Children with disabilities and other specialeducational needs are among these students.The models of leadership examined in this paper were found in schools in the UnitedKingdom, Portugal and the United States that serve culturally and linguistically diversegroups of children, including significant numbers from low income families. In each ofthese schools, children with disabilities and/or other special educational needs areeducated in general education classrooms alongside their peers. Inclusive education isunderstood as an approach to education designed to assure every child’s basic humanright to an individually, culturally and developmentally appropriate education. Set withinthe context of the United Nations’ push for ‘Education for All’, the aim of inclusiveeducation in these settings is to increase participation and learning of pupils who arevulnerable to marginalisation within existing educational arrangements (World EducationForum, 2000).National College for School Leadership4Leadership and inclusionThe research described in this report explores the relationship between leadershipprocesses and inclusive education. It is set in the context of a selective literature reviewof theoretical contributions, empirical studies and accounts written by or about schoolleaders. In carrying out this review, it was assumed that leadership takes different formsin different places, not least because of the way it reflects local history, culture andlegislation. Each source was treated individually, seeking to make clear the context fromwhich it emerged. The power of this process was that it enabled comparisons andcontrasts to be made in ways that allowed thinking and practice across contexts toemerge.Inclusion is increasingly seen as a key challenge for educational leaders. For example,Leithwood et al (1999) suggest that with continuing diversity, schools will need to thriveon uncertainty, have a greater capacity for collective problem solving, and be able torespond to a wider range of pupils. Fullan (2001) describes five mutually reinforcingcomponents necessary for effective leadership in times of change: moral purpose,understanding the change process, relationship building, knowledge creation andsharing, and coherence making. Sergiovanni (1992) also points to the challenge ofstudent diversity and argues that current approaches to school leadership may well begetting in the way of improvement efforts. He suggests two main reasons for the failureof these approaches: there is a tendency to view leadership as behaviour rather thanaction, as having to do with persons rather than ideas; the emphasis on bureaucratic,psychological and technical-rational authority has led to the neglect of professionalauthority.Adopting a similar perspective, Lambert et al (1995) argue for a ‘constructivist’ view ofleadership. This is defined as “the reciprocal processes that enable participants in aneducational community to construct common meanings that lead toward a commonpurpose about schooling”. From their perspective, leadership involves an interactiveprocess entered into by both students and teachers. Consequently, there is a need forshared leadership, with the principal seen as a leader of leaders. Hierarchical structureshave to be replaced by shared responsibility in a community that becomes characterisedby agreed values and hopes, such that many of the control functions associated withschool leadership become less important or even counterproductive.Riehl (2000) develops “a comprehensive approach to school administration anddiversity”, focusing specifically on the work of school principals. She concludes thatschool leaders need to attend to three broad types of task: fostering new meaningsabout diversity; promoting inclusive practices within schools; and building connectionsbetween schools and communities. She goes on to consider how these tasks can beaccomplished, exploring how the concept of practice, especially discursive practice, cancontribute to a fuller understanding of the work of school principals. This analysis leadsthe author to offer a more positive view of the potential for school principals to engage ininclusive, transformative developments. She concludes: “When wedded to a relentlesscommitment to equity, voice, and social justice, administrators’ efforts in the tasks ofsense making, promoting inclusive cultures and practices in schools, and buildingpositive relationships outside of the school, may indeed foster a new form of practice.”National College for School Leadership5Research by Spillane et al (2001) expands upon these issues. Their work examines thecomplexity of school leadership and provides a theoretical framework for the researchpresented in this paper. Their study of ‘distributed leadership’ challenges the notion thatschool leadership resides in any one individual. They point out that although tasks maybe performed by a single person, the impact of his or her action on the organisationreflects a variety of socio-cultural features and demonstrate how “…social context is anintegral component, not just a container, for intelligent activity” (Spillane et al, 2001).Their research highlights the importance of looking beyond school headships and otherformal leadership roles in understanding leadership practice in schools.National College for School Leadership6Methodology and modes of inquiryOur engagement with the literature led us to conclude that in order to move toward moreinclusive practices it is necessary to make the ‘black box’ of school leadership moretransparent. With this in mind, our studies focused on examining the nature of leadershipin fostering practices that respond positively to pupil diversity. We assumed thatcomparison of different countries and communities would help throw light on this issue.At the same time, we wanted to avoid the common pitfalls of comparative discourse: theidea that there is a single national perspective on matters to do with education, and thenotion that practice can be generalised across countries without attention to localcontexts and meanings. In these senses we were building on a previous study ofinclusion and exclusion in eight countries (Booth and Ainscow, 1998).The tendency to present single national perspectives, matched by a common failure todescribe the way practice is understood within its local and national context, reflects apositivist view of social science in which research in one context is amalgamated withthat of another. In this way, statistics can distract our attention from the ways in whichattitudes, policies and institutions exclude or, at least, marginalise certain groups ofchildren and young people (Stubbs, 1995). This is in marked contrast to studies wherethere is a deliberate attempt to draw out nuances of meaning (Peters, 1993; 1995).Careful analyses of differences in perspective, context and meaning can enhance ratherthan reduce the contribution an examination of unfamiliar contexts can make to localpractice (Fuller and Clark, 1994).This leads us to argue that the power of comparison involves using the stimulus of moreexotic environments to reconsider thinking and practice in familiar settings. Bearingthese arguments in mind, we engaged in a comparative analysis of leadership practice inschools in the United Kingdom, Portugal and the United States where there is evidenceof progress towards greater inclusion of vulnerable groups of students. Each account isbased on detailed evidence collected over a period of at least three years by one of theauthors, using participant observer approaches that involved observations, interviewsand document analysis. These data explore differences in perspectives, context andmeaning. Towards the end of a three-year period, one author visited schools andreviewed the data and analysis of the other author. Her review was directed at providinga critique of the grounded theory that had been constructed about each school. Thisassured the trustworthiness of analysis and interpretations, and offered additional and/oralternative perspectives. This paper examines issues related to leadership that emergedfrom that analysis.The issue of trustworthiness is a particular challenge to this form of research.Commenting on this issue, Schon (1991) suggests that appropriate rigour in thereflective study of practice should focus on validity (eg how do we know what we claim toknow?) and utility (eg how useful is the research to practitioners). These concerns wereaddressed by using three forms of triangulation: comparing and contrasting evidencefrom different people within a particular context (eg teachers, support staff and students);scrutinising events from different angles by making use of a variety of methods forcollecting information; and using our different perspectives (one American, the otherEnglish), as a means of testing interpretations.National College for School Leadership7A comparative analysis of three ‘inclusive’ schoolsThe three schools selected for comparative analysis were chosen because eachrepresented organisational cultures whose stated mission reflects a broadened definitionof inclusive education. Each serves a culturally and linguistically diverse population ofstudents and educates children with disabilities and other special educational needs ingeneral education classrooms alongside their peers. Although they have these attributesin common, each represents very different political and socio-cultural contexts. Theirsize, location, community, student population, traditions and roles of formal leaders aredescribed in the following case-study summaries.United States – ‘Betsy Miller School’This elementary school is located in a small city (population 30,000) in the State of NewYork. It serves approximately 350 children in pre-school, kindergarten and grades onethrough five. Although slightly more than half of its students are white and come frommiddle class families in the neighbourhood surrounding the school, the overallpopulation of the school is diverse. Approximately one third are African-American, Asianand/or Latino. Most of these children are either bussed by the school district from lessaffluent neighbourhoods or are voluntarily enrolled and transported by their parents orguardians. Approximately 15 per cent come from families in which English is not thedominant language. Classrooms generally have 20 students, including three or fourchildren classified as eligible for special education services and two to four others forwhom English is a second language.Teachers support one another through instructional teams that meet weekly for planning,discussion and problem solving. These teams are organised by grade levels(Kindergarten and First Grade; Second and Third Grade; Fourth and Fifth Grade).Teachers stay with the same group of children for two years through a process called’looping’, a practice not seen in any other school in the district where it is located. BetsyMiller is unique in several other ways, the most significant being the way support isprovided in classrooms.Under a process called ‘blended services’, individual classrooms operate as teamsheaded by a ‘lead teacher’ certified in elementary education. Each lead teacher sharesteaching responsibilities in the classroom with either a half-time teacher ‘collaborator’and/or para-professional. Additional support personnel collaborate with instructionalteams or individual classrooms depending on student need. Students are not pulled outof classrooms to receive special education or other support services. Rather, curriculumand instruction are designed to be accessible for all children by classroom teachers withthe support of instructional teams. Classroom activities have ‘multiple entry points’ thatallow equal participation by all children. Goals are set by teachers, parents and childrenat the beginning of the year to monitor progress. This assessment process has,however, been challenged by recent state mandates calling for uniform learningstandards.The principal who lead the school for seven years and is associated with the inclusivereforms that now characterise its operation left in 1995. In spite of the fact that there hasNational College for School Leadership8been a different principal every year since then, the staff at Betsy Miller have sustainedtheir commitment to inclusive education. This has required considerable struggle andskill. Although Federal and State statutes continue to support diversity, regulatorymechanisms that reflect deficit models conflict with the strengths’ based and childcentredfocus of this school. Recent regulations requiring schools to demonstrateachievement of mandated learning standards through state-wide, standardisedassessments have provided new challenges.United Kingdom – ‘Eastside School’Eastside School in London was designed as an inclusive setting for 420 pupils in the agerange four to 11, plus the equivalent of 52 nursery places. Its student population includesapproximately 70 per cent on free school meals, 68 per cent who are bi or multi-lingual,including children who are immigrants and/or asylum seekers from east-Asian, middleeasternand African countries. There is a 16 per cent mobility ratio among families, iepeople coming and going, and being rehoused in the community.The aim of the school is to provide all pupils with access to the mainstream curriculumand everyone is regarded as a full member of the school community. With this in mind,the school building is organised in a way that is intended to promote the integration ofspecial needs provision into the daily life of the school. Built in 1992, it was designed toprovide an ‘inclusive setting’ that is fully accessible to all children, staff and members ofthe community, including individuals with physical disabilities. The school building hasfour wings, each of which has its own suite of interconnected, open areas. The wingsoperate with a multi-disciplinary team co-ordinated by a teacher who is known as the’team leader’. There is also a ‘curriculum co-ordinator’ on each team monitoring theprogress of children who have statements of special education need and assisting thefour teachers and various support assistants on her team in developing and adaptingcurriculum. An overall pattern has evolved that guides the work of each of these teams.This working pattern is informed by the strong emphasis placed in the school onencouraging pupil autonomy. The overall emphasis is on providing support within theclassroom, making particular use of what might be described as ‘natural’ sources ofsupport, particularly the children themselves. Specialist personnel are encouraged towork in the classrooms and, to varying degrees, volunteer helpers, including parents, areinvolved in a similar style. The children themselves are given a large degree ofindependence to shape their programme of activities during much of the school day.The headteacher at Eastside has been there since it opened 10 years ago. The deputyhead also serves as the school’s special education needs co-ordinator (SENCO) andhas been at the school for seven years. Both administrators support “…a shared visionof developing relationships and a curriculum that ensures that everyone feels valued,respected and reaches a high level of achievement”. Whilst the great majority of childrenin the UK go to their local neighbourhood schools, there is a long tradition of schoolsfulfilling the role of ‘sorting offices’, selecting and preparing pupils for their futuredestinations in life. Thus the idea of selecting and grouping children on the basis of theirperceived academic potential is well established and has survived despite attempts tointroduce a more comprehensive orientation. The existence of various forms of separatespecial education provision can be seen as part of this overall pattern of differentialeducational response. In this context, Eastside primary school is particularly interesting.National College for School Leadership9Recent challenges facing the school include being cited by OFSTED for poor academicperformance in literacy and numeracy.Portugal – ‘DaCosta School’DaCosta School serves an economically disadvantaged and culturally diverse district inLisbon. It has a population of approximately 1,000 students in the age range of 10 to 16years. Among these are growing numbers of non-Portuguese speaking children whohave arrived from former Portuguese colonies or as refugees from other African, middleeasternand eastern European countries. The student population also includes childrenwith significant cognitive and physical disabilities. Although in Portuguese schools thereis a noticeable acceptance of the rights of students with disabilities to attend their localschools, discrimination towards students from minority ethnic groups is evident in someschools, particularly in relation to black children and those from gypsy families. This isnot evident at DaCosta, however, where a commitment to inclusive education in itsbroadest sense is clearly evident.Special education ‘support teachers’ and teaching assistants support children withspecial education needs in general education classrooms. Support teachers also workwith classroom teachers to modify and adapt the general education curriculum. As is truethroughout Portugal, class sizes are small by international standards and well staffedwith teachers and support staff. Teachers have a reasonable degree of discretionregarding curriculum, such that they can offer flexible responses to students. Teachersat DaCosta are concern that the national curriculum and standardised assessmentsbeing proposed by the Ministry of Education will interfere with the inclusive approachesthey have developed. Teachers here and elsewhere in Portugal have low status, arepoorly paid and if they have not met