Lead the Change with Mel Ainscow

Mel Ainscow is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Manchester, UK. A long-term consultant to UNESCO, he is currently working on international efforts to promote inclusion and equity globally. A distinctive feature of his approach is the emphasis he places on carrying out research with schools and education systems to
promote improvements. Between 2007-2011, Mel led the Greater Manchester Challenge—a project that involved a partnership between national government, ten local authorities, and 1,150 schools—with a government investment of around £50 million. Then, between 2014 and 2017, he headed up Schools Challenge Cymru, the Welsh Government’s flagship program to accelerate improvement across the country’s schools, focusing in particular on the progress of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In the Queen’s 2012 New Year Donors list, Mel was made a Commander of the British Empire for his services to education. Mel Ainscow can be reached at mel.ainscow@manchester.ac.uk

In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Ainscow talks about his work in developing inclusive schools and shares his thoughts about educational change in England and other countries. As Ainscow puts it:

Somebody asked me, why is it that when education professors retire they are often
asking the same questions as when they started their careers? In my own case, the
agenda has certainly remained broadly the same throughout my professional life: it is
that of finding ways of including all children and young people, and ensuring that they
are all treated fairly. In responding to this challenge, there is growing interest internationally in the use of strategies that place an emphasis on the power of market forces to improve educational standards. In particular, a number of national education policies are encouraging schools to become autonomous; for example, the academies in England, charter schools in the USA, and free schools in Sweden. Such developments have the potential to open up possibilities to inject new energy into the improvement of education systems. On the other hand, there is growing evidence that they are tending to lead to increased segregation that further disadvantage some learners , particularly those from economically poorer and minority backgrounds.

This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Emerson Rolkouski and Charlene Tan

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