Policy implementation in inclusive education: a complexity perspective



Mouroutsou S (2017) Policy implementation in inclusive education: a complexity perspective. Doctor of Philosophy. University of Glasgow.

Inclusion is a major focus of government policies worldwide. It is promoted by international agencies aiming to transform education systems in order to respond to the diversity of all learners. However, this research argues that not enough attention has been paid to the values that underpin the policies that promote inclusion, as well as to the beliefs of significant actors that participate in the policy process and which are considered to affect practice. Hence, the extent to which the move to inclusive education is substantive or linguistic is not clear. The complex conceptualisation of policy implementation as well as the need to study the conditions under which education policies work, encourages the use of complexity theory, which focuses on the idea that the interaction of multiple constituent agents has as an impact the emergence of phenomena-forms and events. The number of educational researchers who adopt sociomaterial approaches such as those developed by complexity theory and actor-network theory has increased. It is believed that complexity theory could contribute to our conceptualisation of policy processes, enhancing our understanding of how education policies become implemented and work. Underpinned by policy sociology and complexity theory as a conceptual framework, this cross-sectional and mixed methods research explores the way that the behaviour policy Better Relationships, Better Learning, Better Behaviour is interpreted and translated in mainstream secondary schools in Scotland. Additionally, this study examines whether complexity theory could contribute to our understanding of policy implementation in order to understand the extent to which the shift from behaviour to relationships in Scottish inclusive education is substantive and based on beliefs that promote inclusive education. In addition to questionnaires distributed to secondary mainstream schools in Scotland, data collection entailed interviews with policymakers, support teachers, support staff and education officers, and focus groups with pupils. The analytic framework is based on complexity theory in order to explore the implementation of the policy.

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InstitutionUniversity of Glasgow
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Qualification levelDoctoral
Publication date31/12/2017

People (1)


Dr Stella Mouroutsou

Dr Stella Mouroutsou

Lecturer in Education, Education