Promoting inclusive practices in primary schools in Cyprus: Empowering pupils to build supportive networks
SourceEuropean Journal of Special Needs Education
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Having ownership of a dream is a core element for school improvement and effectiveness. Believing in the effectiveness of a programme is the beginning of reviving a school's internal capacities for improvement. Any improvement and development programme needs to be inviting and non-threatening, a holistic process involving all stakeholders. In this way any educational organization, such as a school, will succeed in serving its core purpose to the maximum: that of offering quality, well-rounded education to its pupils. Our study was founded on this philosophy. The challenge was to create the foundation base on which the school could develop alternative procedures and structures necessary for addressing educational inclusion. This meant having a robust vision, including everyone, starting from the pupils. Through this action research project and with the pupils' empowerment and participation, we wanted to change current practice, to bring the pupils together and share understandings, in order to promote inclusive practices within a primary school setting. To this end, a group of 11-year-old pupils would act as pupil-researchers and co-educators. The group of pupils were trained in research methods, and together planned and designed the action to be taken during this project. The use of pupils as researchers was an innovation in Cyprus, the aim to address the difficult logistical problems of implementing inclusion in practical settings. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.