Management of inclusion in mainstream schools : effect of the organizational culture and the leadership style of the headteacher on the operation of inclusion policy in Israel : a study of middle schools in one city
A major criterion for evaluating a society is how it treats its citizens with special needs -- especially children. Since 1988 all mainstream schools in Israel are obligated by law to include children with special needs and provide them with all the aid they are entitled to -- within a mainstream environment. All the involved bodies (governmental, educational, municipal, legal, parental, etc.) have sought the best way to this. Stemming from human rights- it was obvious that this law was right -- but in the absence of field experience, most conclusions have been the result of trial and error inside the classrooms. The need for research in inclusion practice is therefore vital. The purposes of this study were: 1. To analyze the legal requirements published by the Ministry of Education for mainstream schools. 2. To determine whether and how the law is implemented differently in different mainstream middle schools in one city. 3. To determine possible reasons for such differences, relating to the two variables already known to influence inclusiveness of schools: leadership style of the headteacher and the organizational culture of the school. The study was two-phased: in the survey phase, questionnaires were given to the educational counsellors of all 15 middle schools in the city, examining the different aspects of "shiluv" (Hebrew word for 'inclusion'). The three schools found to be most different from each other in implementing the policy went into the second case study phase. Here in-depth semi structured and specialized interviews were conducted with different role holders in the same school in order to determine why some schools manage to implement inclusion better than others? Differences were found between the 15 schools in the city in the four investigated aspects of "shiluv". The key for the differences was found to be the professionalism of all of the teaching staff: a broad knowledge, an ability to translate the aims of the school to daily work, and to conceptualize educational dilemmas. The main conclusion of this thesis is that such professionalism was shown to result from the organizational culture of the school, as a consequence of strategic management that stresses an 'integrative' type of organizational culture.