Concept to practice - applied inclusiveness : an emergent model of socially inclusive practice
Research indicates that large numbers of young people are underachieving in UK schools, and that school exclusion levels are unacceptably high. In addition, there are increased numbers of students unable to secure a place in mainstream schools. These unplaced and excluded young people are described by New Labour as `vulnerable', `disaffected' or at risk of disaffection (Social_Exclusion_Unit 1998b). The numbers of young people considered `disaffected' indicates a national problem and so, in response to this, there is a government led drive to `socially include' `excluded' young people and young people considered `at risk' of `exclusion'. This UK study examines the principles and practices of practitioners working with identified `at-risk' and `hard to reach' populations. This thesis seeks to unpack this complex situation of social `exclusion' and `inclusion' as it relates to education by asking; who are the `actors' in this expanding world of `social inclusion'? How can some practitioners `reach' and `include' so called `hard to reach' `disaffected' young people? This research explores socially inclusive practice. It aims to investigate whether a model of socially inclusive practice exists or can be established that could be used by educators, parents, human resource (HR) professionals and others concerned with client services in the helping professions. Social exclusion is one of the key concerns of the New Labour agenda. Inclusive education is perceived as central to promoting social inclusion (Social_Exclusion_Unit 1998b) and as a result there are a number of social inclusion projects operating throughout the UK. These projects generally offer provision for young people who, in the judgement of excluding mainstream practitioners, should be placed outside of their responsibility. These excluding practices reflect the values and ideal of the institution and how they perceive their own ability to respond to the total needs of the learner in their care. Excluded young people are typically referred to pupil referral units (PRU's), study centres or other education provision established to meet the statutory requirement of the education authority to maintain education provision. The practitioner is the focus of this investigation and preliminary issues associated with an investigation into social inclusion practice will be considered in an attempt to identify `what works' in opening up educational opportunities to an inclusive culture. This study then, examines the practice and rationale employed by staff at a project providing education otherwise than at school (EOTAS) to young people unplaced, excluded or at risk of exclusion from mainstream school by analysing empirical data collected over a 3-year period using qualitative instruments. Grounded Theory is the methodological approach used to elicit data and the findings provide valuable insights into inclusive education practices. In addition, a number of relevant and important issues are identified. The theoretical model that emerges is informed by the insights and issues that emerge in this, the first major UK study, into inclusive practice in education where the practitioner is the main focus of the study. This research puts forward a model of professional understanding for inclusive education and makes a contribution to the development of new approaches. The results offer clear indicators for a transferable framework of socially inclusive practice.