Students explore their school's social spaces at 'New Secondary Schools' in the context of inclusion
"The integration of all students, regardless of their origin or their special needs" is one of the main focus points in the conception of the "Neue Mittelschule" (new secondary school) in Austria (BMUKK 2012). However, recent research had shown that social integration/inclusion remains one of the main challenges in schools, as students reported from stigmatisation and bullying. "Inclusive Spaces" tried to tackle this problem. Building on the "insider perspectives" of students, we tried to generate knowledge that contributes to foster social cohesion and "successful inclusion" in schools. Social space theory provided the framework for our research.
The first phase of "Inclusive Spaces" consisted of research projects at three new middle schools in Vienna, conducted with students of so called "integration classes" (Integrationsklassen). At each school, an open discussion of different aspects of inclusion marked the starting point of the project. At the next stage, students learnt the basics of participatory research and methods. Students were encouraged to conduct their own research projects in different social spaces of their schools, supported by academic researchers. Results were presented in science clips, vignettes and quizzes. In addition to the perspective of students, teachers were interviewed on their perceptions of social inclusion and asked to draw their own social maps of their school environments.
The second phase was dedicated to an in depth analysis of the results and materials produced in the first phase. Teams of researchers, professors of teacher colleges and teachers transformed the gathered insights into learning materials to be inducted into teacher education.
The aim of the project „Inclusive Spaces 2.0: My School and My Block – Researching Spaces in Educational and Community Setting” was to investigate the relations between spaces in schools and the neighbouring communities, with the participation of pupils.
This project has been completed.