Sustaining a safe secure learning environment: a case study of a selected school in NewCastle
The aim of the study was to develop a sustainable learning environment in school through the infusion of emancipation. The focus was mainly on the behaviour of school learners, which tends to be disruptive. The theoretical strategy underpinning the study was critical emancipatory research theory, used as a systematic lens, as it mirrors the history of social research and is committed to working towards human emancipation and facilitating development of full human potential through equal participation. A critical emancipatory research approach objectively analysed power relations and issues of social justice within a democratic citisenship through critical discourse analysis. The study used participatory action research to generate data about the deviant conduct of learners that affects the education system and school management. The generated data, textual, written and spoken emerged from the co-researchers’ participative engagements, and was then analysed using socio-cognitive critical discourse analysis. The discursive practices were consolidated into the findings of the study. The findings refer to accelerated aggression and deviant behaviours, including smoking and truancy, minor alcohol consumption, a major addiction to illegal substances and violence. Through emancipative engagements and participatory principles as communal interactions, victims were regenerated to re-birth and self re-identification. Emancipation and the participatory approach were more pluralistic, initiated as a way of life as it should be and humankind as created to be. Critical emancipatory research and participatory action research, although socio- historically and politically diluted, became a communitarian philosophical lifestyle emphasising the virtue of being human through compassion, tolerance, trust and harmony which are supposed to be foundations of achieving a sustainable learning environment for human beings. Through these concepts, the learning environment enabled the learners, parents and community members to own and democratically take control of the central stage in the construction of knowledge that transformed, constructed and shaped the identity of society which helping people to reflect on their original identity. Such enhanced knowledge about themselves within a broader community tends to be compassionate, with a collective respect for human dignity. The enthralling and distinctive aspect of the research project was as proven to be the infusion of humanitarian elements in the educational management. It was a predominantly positivistic, profitable transformational characteristic within a research paradigm. All in all, it involved an understanding of the context in which such a strategy could successfully be implemented thanks to a strong working team in a socially inclusive learning environment, with an attempt to create a conducive sustainable safe and secure learning environment. A remarkable aspect in the study was the voice of the learners, which had been neglected in other studies, but was here revealed through participatory visual communication. The study advocates the consideration of the learners’ voice as the guarantee for their safety and, recommends that such a voice, which has often been viewed as insignificant, was heard. In conclusion, the study argues that a socially inclusive safety and security strategy does not reside in an individual endeavour, but in a collective and collaborative relationship as it is affected by any decision or action taken in an educational setting deserving participatory engagement and involvement. The study hopes to offer the school in Newcastle a strategy that can respond to safety and security incidents in a socially inclusive manner. In this way, the study can contribute to the social inclusivity in the education management system, with the ultimate aim of improving safety and security strategies and enhancing learners’ learning environment.
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