|The aim of this qualitative study was to examine the work of lower secondary school
teachers also serving as form tutors from the perspective of inclusive education. I focused
on form tutors’ views on inclusive cooperation with pupils, parents and school staff. I used
the Index for Inclusion by Booth and Ainscow (2005), which consists of three subareas:
inclusive school culture, inclusive policies and inclusive practices. Using mixed methods
approach, I mainly applied qualitative research methods and analysis but analysed the
results of the Index for Inclusion (Booth and Ainscow 2005) using quantitative methods.
The survey was divided into two parts: open-ended questions related to the tutors’
collaboration with pupils, parents and school staff; and the Index for Inclusion, which
measured the tutors’ views on the realisation of inclusive education in their work. I
examined the development of tutor work in a workplace community by interviewing
school staff at the Talvimäki school.
According to the results, inclusive school culture and the policies of inclusive
education are mainly implemented in the work of form tutors, but inclusive practices need
to be developed. The tutors support individual pupils’ schoolwork and wellbeing by
coordinating three-step support for learning as well as student welfare services. At the
same time, the tutors support a sense of community in the class by promoting team spirit.
They organise multisectoral cooperation related to managing the affairs of the class:
important is fluent home–school cooperation and well-functioning multiprofessional
cooperation among the school staff.
The implementation of inclusive education in the work of lower secondary school
form tutors is defined in international agreements, the Finnish legislation on basic
education and student welfare services, the national core curriculum for basic education,
and the municipal and school-specific curriculum. Based on my interpretation, the
principles of the Finnish comprehensive school and those of inclusion already have much
in common: the objectives of equality and participation are part of both. In practice, the
operating culture of the school, the functioning of multisectoral cooperation and the
teacher’s competence play an important role in the implementation of inclusive education.
In order to enable tutors, together with pupils, parents and school staff, to put into practice
the key principle of inclusion – “everyone is accepted, everyone is helped” – the legislation
and national guidelines must be made clearer. Furthermore, models tested at school for
inclusion, student welfare services and three-step support must be presented. Above all,
each school needs clear rules for implementing its own student welfare services and
learning support. Other important aspects include organised teamwork as well as teachers’
reciprocal mentoring and continuous education in order to develop the necessary
competences and meet the challenges of daily schoolwork.
Keywords: lower secondary school, form tutor, inclusive education, participation, student
welfare services, support for learning, home-school cooperation, multiprofessional cooperation