Increasing Inclusive Capability


How can collaboration between key stakeholders support change and improvement?

The OoP project literature review points out that inclusive education requires major organisational change: a re-think of policy assumptions and practice rather than small scale changes or additions to existing arrangements.

One of the challenges of change is that it brings about uncertainty and is therefore uncomfortable for many people. If not well managed, it can also imply criticism of past practice. For this reason, all stakeholders need to be involved and recognise the need for change that may require some current practices or long-standing traditions to be ‘abandoned’.

Recognising that learning is a social process, the development of a ‘culture of improvement’ can only be achieved through collaboration. Change is likewise a shared process – something that is 'done with', rather than 'done to'. According to O'Murchu (2014), the question is not 'what do we need to change so that improvement occurs?' but rather 'what do we need to know about change so that improvement occurs?'.

Recognising the need for both joint action and realistic timescales, the Network of Experts on Social Aspects of Education and Training report 'Alliances for Inclusion' (see link below) states: ‘the methodological challenges to evaluating what works best is not helped by the relatively short time-scales of many interventions and evaluations. ... In general, evidence of change usually focuses on the measurement of outcomes more than on the assessment of progress. But active inclusion is a process goal aimed at longer-term economic benefit for all. Evidence of steps towards active inclusion should therefore also reflect the process aspects of the goal’ (p. 70).

The need for an overarching framework for policy development to support collaboration between agenices/services at all system levels is increasingly recognised, for example in the European Commission’s (2013) Recommendations in 'Investing in children'.

Any change should support all stakeholders to work smarter and achieve better outcomes through joint initiative and innovation, focusing on an agreed vision of high quality education and support for all learners.


Organisation of Provision to support Inclusive Education Literature Review

The OoP literature review states that:  ‘Collaborative enquiry appears to be the most effective change strategy with school practitioners collaborating with academics/researchers who are external to the school and can act as critical friends.’  page 19.

Organisation of Provision visit reports  

The project visit reports provide practice examples, in particular:

Sweden Pages 12 and 19-21
Austria Page 14
Germany Page 12
Presentation on Waldschule

picture of a question mark within a circleTalking point - collaborative practice

  • How effective is collaboration within our school/learning community? What contributes to this success (e.g. shared values, clear vision, strong leadership)
  • Do we have any examples of collaborative practice with external partners?  How do they contribute to innovation and improvement and what could be done to further develop such links?

Organisation of Provision to support Inclusive Education Literature Review 

See pages 19-20 - Key factors supporting change

Organisation of Provision project: Key points from seminar discussions 

See pages 4-6

picture of a question mark within a circleTalking Point - engagement for change

  • What support is given to school leaders to manage and sustain improvement? (See also the question on the continuum of support in the green section of this resource)
  • What strategies are used to engage learners and parents in the improvement process? What evidence do we have that the voices of learners and families are listened to? 

Organisation of Provision to support Inclusive Education Literature Review

Refer to pages 33-35 - School to school collaboration and pages 52-53 - Special and mainstream school collaboration.

Key points from Organisation of Provision project seminar discussions 

See Development of resource centres page 5

Organisation of Provision project Synthesis of country information

See pages 4 - 5 on the changing role of the special school.

Organisation of Provision project Ljubljana visit report

See pages 12 - 14 - Transformation strategies

picture of a question mark within a circleTalking Point - school to school collaboration

  • Consider the level of collaboration between your school and other local schools. What are the outcomes of this collaboration and who benefits? What systems are in place to ensure that collaboration is not dependent on individual personnel?
  • If you work with a special school/resource centre: how is knowledge/expertise shared (e.g. through joint practice, shared professional development)? How does the collaboration extend learning opportuities for all learners? 

Organisation of Provision to Support Inclusive Education - Summary Report (available in 22 languages).

The project report states: ‘Services should support the change of environment, not only the individual’. Page 17

picture of a question mark within a circleTalking Point - collaboration to increase capability

  • How can the full range of stakeholders be mobilised to increase the inclusive capability of schools? Consider the roles of the different professionals involved in your context and how they might be strengthened by joint practice.

NESET report Alliances for Inclusion

This report summarises some lessons learned about collaboration. It notes that: ‘Complex problems of vulnerability call for more systemic, "ecological" responses which involve interventions in families and communities alongside help for children and young people ... Education, as a universal service, has a crucial role to play in (a) identifying early signs of vulnerability in young people and alerting other services to the need for early intervention; and (b) assisting children to readjust to education once problems are reduced’. Page 69.

Talking point - inter-professional collaboration

  • What national/local policies promote inter-sectoral work in our context? How can genuine inter-professional collaboration be supported?  (See further examples in NESET report pages 43-53 and Summary of enablers and obstacles page 62).

Additional References

UNICEF webinar     

The webinar on Parents, family and community talks about creating a culture of collaboration; levels of collaboration and partnership; family and community assets for inclusion and 'ramps' for participation through legal and policy frameworks.

A booklet to accompany the webinar is also available.

SWIFT IN 60 video

The SWIFT IN 60 video on multi-tiered support also shows the development of family and community partnerships.