Inclusive Schools Role Model Javier Lorite García

Hello everybody. Let's start the interview with Javier Lorite García, interview that takes place for the Inscool 2 project, an Erasmus+ project, funded by Erasmus+ project, funded by the European Commission.

Javier is a psychologist, a teacher, has publications and collaborations with different research teams of the UGR (University of Granada), he is an expert in educational guidance, he also has teaching experience in the three educational stages of the school: pre-school, primary and secondary education and he has also been head teacher of primary and secondary stages and now he is the general head teacher of the school.

Well, Javier, we start with the the topic of inclusive education and we're going to conceptualize a little bit the idea we are discussing about in the interview: what does "inclusive education" mean to you?

Well, inclusive education, to me and to the school where we are, it means a point of normalised coexistence between all those of us who are here and who form part of the school. And from that normalised coexistence, add up the differences, group them together and that we all consider ourselves to be different and equal in some aspects, right? That's the main thing.

Very well, do you think that the educational system should encourage this inclusive education?

Yes, in fact, well, we are happy to know that the new law even makes a commitment methodologically, organisationally, on the issue of inclusion, right? I think that right now the school is starting to respond, what society is starting to demand, isn't it?

What do you think this inclusion brings to the different groups that make up the educational community?

Well, the issue of inclusion brings normalisation, understanding the other, putting oneself in the other person's skin and circumstances and it breaks a little bit the patterns of what has been, that we talked about inclusion of the special, of what wasn´t normalised and now we talk about, the inclusion of the normal of the different, and that, I think that adds to the richness.

Very well, once pupils finish school they start another stage in their lives, what role do you think inclusive education or school has in the construction of this society, of this future society?

Well, look, I experience it before they leave, I experience it in extracurricular activities, I experience it in the outings that we make to the environment around us or to different institutions that we relate to. And the fact is, that our students are prepared to live together and to be with the rest of their classmates and with other people, to understand differences. And what do they tell us when our children go abroad? Well, they bring with them a special ability to put themselves in other people's shoes, to help their classmates, to work as a team, many of the things that are necessary as social tools, our pupils have already practised them and have normalised them. And I think this is one of the great advantages of our school's track record in inclusion.

We are going to talk a little about the Cristo de la Yedra School, which has a long history and a very important track record in terms of inclusion. How long has the school been committed to inclusion?

Well, we have been committed to inclusion from the very beginning, since this institution, which is located in a very disadvantaged neighbourhood of Granada, began to provide an educational response to a very different group of students. As the city grows, different social realities are incorporated into the educational institution, some marginal, others not marginal, and this coexistence is the fruit, and the seed that will make this work inclusive. An important moment, Pablo, was when we echoed a social demand from Granada City Council, to accommodate 70 or so children in our school. Around 80 children who came without previous schooling and from different educational levels. This produced such a revolution in the school that we had to put aside books, we had to put aside established methodologies and we had to start designing another way of working with and understanding pupils whose first time at school was in the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh level of EGB (former Spanish law). So that was the germ, to realise that the school had to be a welcoming space and that the methodology had to change, the evaluation instruments had to change and the organisational instruments had to change. That was the moment...and then we were also recognized in Andalusia, 36 years ago this year, as an approved educational institution for integration.

Finally, to conclude, I am going to ask you a question that I don't know from which role you are going to answer: as a teacher, as a psychologist, as an expert in educational inclusion, or as a parent who has opted for an inclusive educational model for their children. Why should any family opt for an inclusive educational school, such as Cristo de la Yedra?

Well, I am going to answer you, first of all, as a parent. I have had my two children here and I have chosen… I work here at the school, but I could have chosen to take my child to any other school in the Granada area. Why do I choose Cristo de la Yedra? Because I believe that my children have been educated in a reality, in a reality at school, which is the same reality that they are going to find when they get on a bus, when they go to the cinema, when they are with a group of friends, where they are going to meet different children with all the possibilities and they are awakening certain sensibilities, a certain fineness in their skin, which is going to make them sensitive and able to, at a certain moment, to work with any person, to live with any person, to understand that the circumstances of any person are not the circumstances of oneself, and this is what has been given to them, to my children in particular, a sensitivity and know-how and a capacity to think socially, not to think individually, which for me has been fundamental. Regardless of the fact that later on in the school there is a very good academic performance or a very good tutorial follow-up or there is a spectacular coexistence between families. That is what has appealed to me, and I think that we have been educating them, both my wife and me, we have put them at this school so that from the very first moment, they see the difference as normal. Because when we go out into the street, what we see as normal and what is there in the street is what is there, which is different. And that's what we have to get used to. And this school, I think, puts it on a plate, from the moment a three-year-old child enters school.

Great, so thank you very much.

You're welcome, Pablo.

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