In light of the changing German school system, from a segregating to an inclusive educational
landscape, guaranteeing people with disabilities and impairments access to the general system of education, schools in North Rhine-Westphalia are in the process towards an inclusive system in all schools with a positive attitude of all protagonists towards diversity. Such a system takes the needs of different groups of pupils into account and by that, includes teaching methods that respect their diversity.
The team from the local education authority of Märkischer Kreis, responsible for inclusion, supports local schools in this process by individually and systemically advising and counselling schools and by ensuring the support of special needs educators across schools. This happens through the website www.inklusion-mk.de and regular meetingsfor special needs teachers and other people involved in the inclusive teaching at schools.
Over the span of the last three years and in addition to the actions already mentioned, the project “Starke Schulen stärken Kinder”, which translates to “Strong schools support children”, has been put in place for primary schools interested in improving the inclusive education at their schools. Following the style of the US-American Response-to- Intervention-Modell, we provide a range of advanced training courses for the school subjects German and Mathematics as well as the developmental topics Behaviour and Language. These courses happen in cooperation with the universities of Rostock and Dortmund, the official institution for teacher training and members of the team from the local education authority.
17 primary schools from Märkischer Kreis have agreed to adapt the contents of the project for their schools.
For the last three years they have taken part in regular training courses and by nominating alternating colleagues to serve as multipliers. In order to broaden the training courses available, we are now looking to add international advanced training courses and job shadowing. This will give us an insight into different foreign school systems and the opportunity to discuss and share solutions for the joint education of pupils with and without disabilities. This will happen by sharing Best-Practice-examples as well as by coming up with new possible solutions.
Seven out of the seventeen schools involved in the “Starke Schulen stärken Kinder” project take part in the exchange programme by sending one to four colleagues per school to advanced training courses concerning the topic “inclusive education” and to do job shadowing at two Austrian, an Italian and a Spanish school. Participation includes documenting the expected and the actual progress before, during and after the mobility and to make the information available to colleagues at their schools as well as to other participants of the “Starke Schulen stärken Kinder” project.
The courses will take place in Finland, Italy and the Czech Republic. They offer the possibility to get insight into the successful Finish school system and to compare the different approaches to inclusive education across Europe. The exchange aims at strengthening the teachers’ positive attitude towards diversity, reflecting the German idea of disability, enlarging the variety of teaching methods and to keep up the teachers’ motivation to work in an heterogenous classroom. All objects will be pursued through the continuous cooperation between the schools taking part in the exchange. By getting to know different school systems, the colleagues will become motivated and encouraged to initiate processes of change at their own schools.
This way they might establish new teaching methods in their classroom and change the way they look at their pupils, those with and those without disabilities, impairments or those facing deprivation.
The findings concerning teaching methods and systemic approaches will find application in the inclusive systems and programmes in place at the participants’ schools.