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INCLUSIVE EDUCATION STUDY TOURS: A GUIDE

By Lawrence Graham,2014-07-06 12:42
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THE ADVICE IN THIS GUIDE CAN HELP YOU DRAW UP A WORKPLAN FOR A STUDY TOUR. IT IS NOT A PURELY CHRONOLOGICAL CHECKLIST OF THINGS TO DO. WE HAVE PRESENTED ACTIONS ...

    Guide to

    Inclusive Education

    Study Tours

    This guide will be revised during 2010. If you have any suggestions for

    improvements, or if you want to share a

    case story about your own study tour, please email: info@eenet.org.uk

Author: Ingrid Lewis

    (on behalf of the International Disability and Development Consortium‟s

    inclusive education task group,

    and Enabling Education Network)

Funding: NAD

     Date: November 2009

Contents

1. Introduction ................................................................................................ 3

    1.1. Why has this guide been developed? .................................................... 3

    1.2. How to use this guide? .......................................................................... 3

    1.3. What makes a study tour effective?....................................................... 3

2. Choosing the right location ...................................................................... 7

    2.1. Purpose of the tour ................................................................................ 7

    2.2. Location criteria and research ............................................................... 8

    2.3. Building a relationship with the host ...................................................... 9

    2.4. Exploratory visit ................................................................................... 10

    3. Selecting participants .............................................................................. 11

4. Managing expectations ........................................................................... 13

    4.1. What can we reasonably expect? ........................................................ 13

    4.2. How can we manage expectations? .................................................... 14

5. Choosing and managing activities ......................................................... 15

    5.1. Possible activities ................................................................................ 15

6. Recording, sharing and using learning .................................................. 18

    6.1. Recording ............................................................................................ 18

    6.2. Reflection ............................................................................................ 19

    6.3. Wider sharing of lessons learned ........................................................ 19

    Appendix 1: Summary checklist ................................................................. 20

    Appendix 2: Budget checklist ..................................................................... 24

Appendix 3: Questions to discuss during reflection sessions ................ 26

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1. Introduction

1.1. Why has this guide been developed?

    Study tours can help education stakeholders to learn about, and from, inclusive education experiences in other areas or countries. Well-organised study tours can enable hosts and visitors to see theories being implemented, to exchange ideas, and to reflect critically on their own experiences and attitudes which they may normally be too busy to do. Unfortunately, not all study tours are as beneficial as they could be, for visitors or hosts. EENET and IDDC are keen to promote and support study tours as a way of helping inclusive education programmes become more innovative. Given the high economic and environmental costs of international travel, we particularly want to support the development of more effective and efficient tours.

1.2. How to use this guide?

    The advice in this guide can help you draw up a workplan for a study tour. It is not a purely chronological checklist of things to do. We have presented actions roughly in the order they may occur, but you will probably work on several steps at once. There is a summary in Appendix 1 which will give you general ideas if you are too busy to read the whole document. You can also use it as a checklist to make sure you have planned thoroughly.

1.3. What makes a study tour effective?

    A great deal of work is needed to plan and run an effective study tour. In this guide, we have divided the work into five sections:

choosing the right location

     selecting participants

     managing expectations

     choosing and managing activities

     recording, sharing and using learning.

    There are also appendices providing quick reference checklists and suggested discussion questions for use during or after a study tour.

    The advice provided will not guarantee you a perfect study tour, but will go some way towards addressing the common problems that undermine the effectiveness of many tours.

    The following table outlines how our vision for an effective study tour differs from an ineffective study tour.

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     Every tour is unique we learn from our last tour or

    from other people‟s tours, but we do not simply plan

    to replicate them.

     We research several possible locations and choose

    the one that best suits our criteria: objectives, Locations are chosen without sufficient research. We

    Choosing participants‟ needs, cultural context, etc. may simply visit whichever country/programme invites

    the right us; or we may follow a recommendation from We ensure the chosen hosts are keen to receive

    location someone else who did a study tour, without checking visitors and see hosting a tour as a way of improving

    if they had different objectives for their tour. their own work.

     A tour co-ordinator or facilitator may do an exploratory

    visit to ensure that we have chosen the right location,

    that our plans are feasible, and to start building a

    relationship with the host.

     We hurry, or bow to pressure, when selecting

     We invest a lot of time in discussing the objectives of participants for the „visitors‟ team.

    the tour what do we want to learn and who needs to We take the same people who went on the last study

    learn? tour, or to the last workshop, or we take only senior Selecting We develop clear selection criteria for participants. staff or those who most forcefully volunteer to go. participants We may even run an application/selection process. We do not emphasise strongly enough that the study

    tour is not a „working holiday‟, nor a reward for good If we are unable to find the „right‟ participants in time,

    performance, nor a way of receiving bonus payments we believe it may be better to postpone the tour.

    (e.g. through per diem).

     We promote open and honest two-way We put a lot of pressure on the host organisation/ communication between hosts and visitors. Each tour programme. Managing aims to be mutually beneficial, with the hosts learning We expect them to tell us everything about their expectations from the visitors, not just the visitors learning from the project in a logical and informative way. hosts. We expect to learn everything we need to know to We help hosts to prepare, so that they know how to

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make our own project perfect! effectively communicate their experiences.

     We blame the hosts if we don‟t learn everything we We expect visitors to tell the hosts about their own want to. work.

     We pick holes in the hosts‟ work, especially if their We also expect visitors to be proactive. If they haven‟t project is not as perfect as we expected it to be. learned what they wanted to learn, it is their

    responsibility to ask questions and investigate.

     We invest time in managing the learning

    expectations, especially among visitors. A single

    study tour cannot answer all our questions, and we

    should not expect this.

     We encourage visitors to offer constructive feedback

    to the hosts, if they see something that is not working

    well. But we never simply criticise the hosts‟ project.

     We prioritise numerous formal meetings with all

    senior people linked to the project (e.g. ministry staff, Protocol is followed, but we meet formally with only district education officials). the essential senior figures. We spend most of our time listening to prepared We also try to meet local/community leaders. speeches. As a priority, we ensure that enough time is allocated We don‟t have time for questions, and sometimes the Choosing to seeing and experiencing the reality of local schools people we meet don‟t expect to be questioned, just and and communities. listened to. managing We plan a wide range of activities, because we know Unfortunately we find we have little time left to spend activities that everyone learns in a different way. in schools and communities. Where possible, we try to include: formal meetings, When we get to schools we may still spend our time informal interviews, focus group discussions, in formal discussions with head teachers and fail to observation, and practical participatory activities with experience „real school life‟. stakeholders (especially children and young people).

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     We encourage every visiting participant to keep a journal, in which they note down what they have seen, their reflections and insights, questions they still

    need to ask, etc.

     We encourage participants to take photos as a way of helping them to record what they see and remember what they learned.

     At the end of each day, and at the end of the tour, we Recording, hold a reflection session. Visiting participants are We expect a facilitator to take notes and photos, and sharing and facilitated to reflect on what they saw, and analyse send us a report of the study tour, which contains all using how this has helped them to learn. the answers we need for our own project. learning We expect all visiting participants to plan (with a facilitator‟s help) how they will share what they saw and learned with a wider group of stakeholders when they go home.

     Managers follow up on the study tour, with both visitors and hosts.

     Managers encourage ongoing sharing of experiences between hosts and visitors.

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2. Choosing the right location

2.1. Purpose of the tour

    Your objective(s) for the study tour will influence your choice of location. For example, if your objective is to learn about how to use special school resources to support your inclusive education programme, you would not want to visit a country that has no special schools, or that is committed to keeping a totally separate special school system.

Why do you want to do a study tour?

    If the answer to this essential first question includes any of the following, then you have a sound basis for continuing with your planning:

     to learn from a wider range of experiences and be exposed to new ideas to observe (and perhaps even practise) different ways of designing and

    managing an inclusive education project/programme, and consider how

    to adapt them in our own setting

     to develop long-term practical and motivational links with other people

    working on inclusive education

     to reflect on and share what we have done in our project

     to help us prepare for writing a new long-term plan, or with starting a

    new project phase or direction

     to complement an ongoing training or awareness-raising programme

    with staff and/or stakeholders

     to facilitate team-working among project staff/partners within a learning

    environment, away from the stresses of their own project.

    If the (honest) answer includes any of the following (and none of the above), then you may need to consider whether you are planning a study tour for the right reasons and whether you should continue:

     to satisfy the expectations of our donor or senior managers to tick the „study tour‟ box on our workplan

     to use up a budget under-spend

     to „reward‟ project staff

     to encourage/bribe local partners/officials to work with our project to fulfil the „training‟ component of our project plan.

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What do you hope to achieve?

    You may have two options when setting the specific objective(s) for the tour: Choose your participant group and then consult them as to what they

    want to achieve from the study tour. Choose the objective(s) based on

    the learning needs that are most commonly raised within the group. Decide the overall objective(s) for the tour, then select participants who

    are most appropriate to the chosen focus of the tour. You can then

    consult them as to their specific learning needs within the overall

    objective(s).

    Whichever way you set the objective(s), remember that a single, one- or two-week study tour cannot help you to achieve everything. Choose no more than three objectives for the tour. Choose the objective(s) that seems most vital for helping you move your project forward.

    Do not be too ambitious with your objectives we

    often expect too much from a study tour, and end

    up disappointed!

2.2. Location criteria and research

Draw up general criteria for selecting a location:

    ; cultural issues consider in which countries (or areas within your own

    country) the visiting participants will feel sufficiently „at home‟

    ; language issues the tour will run more smoothly if you can limit the

    need for translation by visiting an area/country that uses a language

    with which your participants are familiar (e.g. a mother tongue

    language or official national/regional language)

    ; distance don‟t travel so far that your participants spend all week

    recovering from exhaustion, but don‟t just visit locations nearest to the

    airport or host‟s head office

    ; economy some countries have a much higher cost of living. Set a

    price limit for travel, accommodation and meals per person and stick

    to it

    ; politics some countries are easier to enter than others, in terms of

    visas, and safer to travel around

    ; context choose countries where the education system is not vastly

    different from your own. Visiting participants may feel demoralised if

    they can see no way of adapting ideas to suit their own context. Write a list of countries that meet these criteria.

     Research inclusive education projects/programmes in these countries.

    You could:

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    ; contact IDDC members

    ; read articles from EENET‟s newsletter or website

    ; gather project reports, articles, etc.

     Find out key dates that could affect your tour (school holidays,

    public/religious holidays, elections, etc).

     List the distinctive features of each country/programme. Many

    inclusive education programmes will have a particular focus: e.g. they

    may specialise in action research approaches; or they may have a

    particularly strong pupil voice or parental involvement approach. Write a pros and cons list for each country/programme, measured

    against your initial criteria and against your objective(s) for the tour.

    These actions should help you to find a suitable country and project/ programme to visit. If not, don‟t rush the process and settle for a country that

    fails to meet your criteria. Instead, revisit your criteria and objectives (are they realistic?) and do more research. Postpone plans for a tour if you really can‟t

    find a location that matches enough of your needs perhaps you can fulfil

    your learning needs in a different way.

    The perfect inclusive education project does not

    exist anywhere in the world, so don’t expect to

    find it!

2.3. Building a relationship with the host

Mutual benefit: An effective study tour ensures that the host

    organisation and stakeholders benefit, not just the visitors. The host

    team needs a chance to learn from the visitors and be supported to

    reflect on and learn more about their own programme.

     What can we do for you?: Ask what activities could be planned to help

    the hosts with a specific challenge they are facing (e.g. could the visitors

    offer them training in a particular teaching or research approach?)

    Reassure the hosts that this is a two-way learning experience, not an

    inspection or test of their programme.

     Avoid putting the hosts under pressure: If the hosts feel pressured to

    perform like experts who have the answer to every problem, they may be

    tempted to hide any aspect of their programme that is not „perfect‟. This

    reduces the available learning opportunities and can ruin the trust

    between hosts and visitors. If we don‟t look after our hosts, they may

    decide study tours are too stressful, and refuse to help in future.

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2.4. Exploratory visit

    It is very rare that a study tour budget allows for the cost of an exploratory visit. However, unless you already know the host country/programme very well, it makes sense financially and logistically to plan a short exploratory visit. It

    allows the staff member(s) or consultant(s) leading the tour to: build a working relationship with the host team

     check that the host programme offers sufficient learning opportunities

    and new ideas, while still being contextually relevant

     learn more about the programme, by visiting some of the schools, etc,

    that the tour will visit

     test ideas for activities and introduce these to the hosts, especially if you

    will want the hosts to help facilitate participatory activities with

    stakeholder groups

     develop realistic ideas for the detailed tour schedule, including testing

    travel times between field visits

     check out accommodation options

     take some of the pressure away from the host

     discuss with the host about possible activities that could help them with

    their own work

     find out about essential briefings the visitors may need (e.g. regarding

    cultural norms, security, health concerns)

     decide whether to spend the budget on visiting this location, or whether

    to look for an alternative. It is better to spend a small amount of money

    on a test visit than to waste more money by arranging a full tour to an

    inappropriate location.

    If your budget cannot afford an exploratory visit, try to at least: maintain regular email contact between host and visiting teams, the tour

    facilitator, etc

     arrange telephone calls, or internet video calls, at regular intervals in the

    planning process it is much easier to build relationships when you can

    speak to, and see, people

     gather as much written, photographic and video material as you can

    about the host programme and surrounding area. This will help the tour

    facilitator to develop some familiarity with the location and ask the host

    well-targeted questions. Allow plenty of time for this research.

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