Transforming obstacles into supporters in an attempt to promote inclusive education
The objective of this research is to identify the barriers that the school community faces in trying to include pupils identified as having special educational needs (SEN). We recommend the application of the “Intermediate Ιnverted Leadership” (IIL) (Charalampous and Papademetriou, 2019), an innovative educational leadership model aiming at transforming the barriers into inclusive factors, based on the idea of decentralization, which can lead to creating inclusive school environments. To explore possible barriers and their conversion into inclusion factors, we used Mixed Methodology Action Research (MMAR), which was firstly proposed by Ivanova (2015), as an innovative research methodology. It combines mixed methodology with action research and allows reflection and change of practices used in a school by the teachers themselves. This research was conducted at a secondary school in Cyprus. The participants were consisted of 48 teachers, 4 parents of pupils identified as having SEN, 20 parents of pupils without disabilities, 3 pupils identified as having SEN and 80 pupils without SEN. Questionnaires, interviews, observations, focus groups and diaries were used as research tools. The results have shown that such an effort can lead one step closer to the inclusion of pupils identified as having SEN. So, we conclude that IIL model through effective emotional intelligence guidance can become even more inclusive.