Prosiect Dysgu Cydradd is about facilitating teacher engagement in more inclusive practice. The Welsh word 'Dysgu' means both 'teaching' and 'learning', whilst 'cydradd' means 'equal' - the stem 'cyd' means 'together'. So the project title embodies an inclusive aspiration to learn and teach on equal terms, with and from each other.
Inclusion is about 'reducing the barriers to participation and learning'(Ainscow and Booth, 2002) and involves those who work in education posing questions about the engagement of young people in their learning; and then taking appropriate action in terms of the organization of schools (and subjects, and lessons). This includes: asking questions about how a school adapts to and works effectively with the diversity of the student population; finding out about and working with what pupils bring with them to school rather than viewing differences in terms of deficits, and taking more account of the understandings that young people have of school and education, rather than seeking only to engage more young people in existing school practice. Conceived in this way, inclusion is not a quick fix that can be bolted on, but requires ongoing dialogue between teachers and learners. It requires teachers' active engagement, because inclusion and exclusion are processes that happen minute by minute and lesson by lesson.
Promoting inclusive teaching is a challenge in all schools, but the complex social and organisational structure of secondary schools creates particular difficulties. Ways of doing things that have developed over time constitute the roots of dilemmas, tensions and contradictions faced by staff and pupils in secondary schools, such as the division of academic and pastoral responsibilities, the separations caused by subject specialism, and the procedures used to match curriculum and individual pupils. National and local policy contexts are also important determinants of how schools operate.
In this small scale study, we worked with seven secondary comprehensive schools (five in Wales and two in England) to develop their inclusive practice using action research. In each school a group of teachers worked together to develop a piece of action research to enhance pupils' attitude to and engagement with learning. Educational psychologists(EPs) facilitated the process by regular meetings with the teacher group and as researchers we followed what the teachers , school leaders and EPs did in order to understand the challenges of the process in each school. To do this we collected evidence from a number of different sources: questionnaires were developed to investigate teacher, pupil and EP opinions before and after the process; focus group discussions were held with both teachers (see Figure 1) and pupils to further develop an understanding of their perspectives; headteachers were interviewed at the beginning and the end of the project; and EPs contributed regularly their views about the development of the process in regular project meetings.
In order to understand not only the challenges, but how to meet them, the project took place in two successive phases (June 2005- March 2006 and June 2006-March 2007) so that in Phase II we could explore ways of responding to challenges identified in Phase I.