Leadership for inclusion: Conceptualising and enacting inclusion in integrated schools in a troubled society

Claire McGlynn, Timothy London

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Inclusion is increasingly understood as an educational reform that responds to the diversity of all learners, challenging the marginalization, exclusion and underachievement which may result from all forms of ‘difference’. Leadership for inclusion is conceptualized here as driving a constant struggle to create shared meanings of inclusion and to build collaborative practice, an effort that needs to be rooted in critical practice lest it risk replicating existing patterns of disadvantage. In response to calls for further research that challenge how school leaders conceptualize inclusion and for research that investigates how leaders enact their understandings of inclusion, this paper aims to increase our understanding of the extent to which leadership vision can map onto a school’s culture and of the organizational conditions in schools that drive responses to diversity. We investigate the enactment of leadership for inclusion in the troubled context of Northern Ireland by looking at two schools that primarily aim to integrate Catholic and Protestant children but which are also sites for a range of other dimensions of student ‘difference’ to come together. Whilst the two schools express differing visions of the integration of Catholics and Protestants, leadership vision of inclusion is enacted by members of the school community with a consensus around this vision brought about by formal and informal aspects of school culture. Multiple and intersecting spheres of difference stimulate a concerted educational response in both schools but integration remains the primary focus. In this divided society, religious diversity poses a significant challenge to inclusion and further support is required from leaders to enable teachers to break through cultural restraints.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)155-175
    Number of pages21
    JournalResearch Papers in Education
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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