The ‘ProuD to teach All’ Erasmus funded project has come to the end of its planned activity that was within the scope of the funding and the impact findings are impressive. My pride in the team is considerable, as they have achieved an ambitious endeavour, and much credit to Marijke and the organising committee for the outcomes realised by the journey. The difference the project has made is tangible in the conversations I have seen happen across, and between, the different countries and the evaluation feedback speaks for itself in demonstrating evidence that a great deal has been learned.
My learning has included a heightened sense of awareness of the commonalities of intention that practitioners, committed to inclusion, want to achieve in their schools for all young people. The espousal for a more socially just system is palpable. The differences are in how different contexts require different approaches. Achieving social justice requires high levels of sensitivity to the prevailing attitudes, dispositions and leadership & governance arrangements within a locale. What may work in one place is unlikely to work elsewhere unless deep consideration is given to its applicability. A method of change applied in one context is likely to have to be nuanced in its application in another. That nuance will be informed by a recognition of the cultural mores existing where one is seeking to apply a methodology of implementing inclusivity in education.
It is because of the need to have acute awareness of the local climate that the principle of coaching within the ProuD project was so correct and vital. It is through coaching conversations that coaches can become sensitive to the needs of those they are seeking to support. The drive for change is steeped in valuing equity of voice. To attempt to bring about inclusive education in a hierarchical way is to fundamentally miss the point. Enabling the knowledge of those most connected to the child to produce the expertise about how best to support the learner is the change method for inclusivity. Including the young person in the dialogue is an added value. In addition, having those conversations characterised by processes of reflection is a further integral value to the aspirations of the ProuD project.
The privilege of being directly involved in this project has been the opportunity for reflexive thinking. I have been, and continue to be, reflective about how, within the process of the project, we have been enabling the reflections of those engaged with it. As mentioned above, the data is compelling that the reflections have led to learning and also action. My overriding reflection in writing this blog is about how we need to do what we can to sustain the activity of reflective practice. How can we ensure that the momentum of the project is sustained?
Thus, this is a call to action to anyone reading this. I assume you have interest in the ProuD program and will avail yourself of the rich resources within the Project’s website the material will inform your reflections about your practice and how inclusive you are in your teaching and leadership endeavours. And it is to that element of leadership that I will focus my agency. Although the project has officially’ come to an end, it’s legacy lies in the changed mindsets of those it has influenced. The process of influencing practitioners need not stop.
My pledge in this blog is to make myself available to engage in coaching conversations with those who accept my invitation. I invite any leader in schools or involved in system leadership in the schooling landscape to partake in an exploration with me about how the barriers to achieving inclusive education may be overcome within your context. The purpose of doing this is morally driven and my continued contribution to affecting social justice. My enabling ongoing reflection beyond the life span of the Erasmus funding is just one example of how the impact of the ProuD project can be sustained. I am sure you will think about what you might do, and no doubt will do, to bring yourself to the action of the aftermath of this most worthy of projects and endeavours. By doing this together, we can keep a good thing going.
Ian Potter, school leader and coach of the British schools that collaborated with Leeds Beckett University during the ProuD To Teach All project
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in this invitation.