Conversational uses of the repertory grid for personal learning and the management of change in special educational needs
An action research design, incorporating the repertory grid as a framework for Learning Conversations, is used to examine the management of change for a group of teachers and their schools. The study sets out to analyse how individual, teachers, from twelve primary and middle schools, in three outer London boroughs, learnt about managing change in their schools, in relation to children with Special Educational Needs. To study how the school supported these individuals, Headteachers and Deputy Heads were also included in the research. The sample of teachers was chosen from those who had attended either of two sets of in-service courses on Special Educational Needs in Ordinary Schools. The first set of teachers had recently completed their course; the second had completed courses between five and eight years previously. This gave an opportunity to compare short-term and long-term learning outcomes from these courses. As the study progressed, so did the development of the use of the conversational techniques. Flexible Learning Conversations, which went beyond the repertory grid techniques, were developed, and the evidence showed that this improved individuals' ability to reflect on their work, thus gaining confidence for future action in their schools. It was, also possible to develop a procedure for small groups of participants to share their own constructs, elicited from personal grid conversations. This led, into a Group Learning Conversation, which also included future action planning. The research also examines the interaction of action research and the Learning Conversation using the repertory grid, in helping to develop reflective practitioners and effective schools. As co-ordinating tutor for both sets of in-service courses, as a co-ordinator of LEA support services in two of the LEAs, and in the role as action researcher, my personal learning has formed part of the research outcomes.