What do key informants within a school understand about what it is to be a successful intercultural school?
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AbstractEquity and Quality 2012 conference: Equity and Quality in Education: an international conference in Beijing, 23-24 October 2012 Domini Bingham, Doctoral student, Institute of Education firstname.lastname@example.org Strand: Moral and citizenship education Abstract What do key informants within a school understand about what it is to be a successful intercultural school? This small scale, qualitative study of an inner London school set out to explore how might inner city schools view intercultural education? What does it mean to teachers and leaders for their practice? The European Union has renewed its interest in intercultural education, citizenship and human rights, viewing them as levers to underpin democracy and strengthen civil society in a diverse Europe (2008, 2011).Thus, contemporary studies into and how schools tackle the challenges and issues of increasing diversity in urban education and how reciprocal influences of interaction between student and school communities are understood are becoming increasingly relevant. The research aim was to gain new insights over vocabulary, practices and approaches around intercultural education. The study examines what teachers and leaders understand around what it means to be a successful intercultural school, generates new perceptions into what it is to be a successful one, and probes how much intercultural practice is undertaken in the classroom. An interpretative methodology using semi-structured interviews with seven leaders and teachers seeks to unveil what is happening in a little-understood situation in a school with an intake of 98% students of Bangladeshi origin. Initial findings reveal teachers and leaders show a clear understanding of what intercultural education means and teachers demonstrate a clear commitment to intercultural education. It was found that students involved in the external cultural enrichment programmes, encountering students from other backgrounds, benefitted greatly in many ways over and above those who were not involved. Of concern, are the small numbers of students involved in these types of activities, while the closed community where the school is situated challenges the advancement of intercultural development and social cohesion in ethnic minority communities. Research in this area is becoming increasingly relevant as schools across the EU have become such diverse sites and will become increasingly so.