Improving School Leadership

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1 Improving School Leadership VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACTICE By Beatriz Pont, Deborah Nusche, Hunter Moorman RINCIP DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP EAD TECHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRI LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHHEAD TEACHER PRINCIPAL D EADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCI ISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRI RINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM RINCIPAL HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEAD LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUT EAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LE EAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PR EADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRI ISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL LEADER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEAD RINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER EAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LE EADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUT EADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM EAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PR RINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIB DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP PRIN DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEAD PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEAD TEACHER LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP HEA LEADERSHIP TEAM HEAD TEACHER DISTR LEADERSHIP TEAM PRINCIPAL DIS

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3 Improving School Leadership VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACTICE By Beatriz Pont, Deborah Nusche, Hunter Moorman

4 ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT The OECD is a unique forum where the governments of 30 democracies work together to address the economic, social and environmental challenges of globalisation. The OECD is also at the forefront of efforts to understand and to help governments respond to new developments and concerns, such as corporate governance, the information economy and the challenges of an ageing population. The Organisation provides a setting where governments can compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and work to co-ordinate domestic and international policies. The OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Commission of the European Communities takes part in the work of the OECD. OECD Publishing disseminates widely the results of the Organisation s statistics gathering and research on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as the conventions, guidelines and standards agreed by its members. This work is published on the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Organisation or of the governments of its member countries. Also available in French under the title: Améliorer la direction des établissements scolaires VOLUME 1 : POLITIQUES ET PRATIQUES Corrigenda to OECD publications may be found on line at: OECD 2008 OECD freely authorises the use, including the photocopy, of this material for private, non-commercial purposes. Permission to photocopy portions of this material for any public use or commercial purpose may be obtained from the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) at or the Centre français d'exploitation du droit de copie (CFC) All copies must retain the copyright and other proprietary notices in their original forms. All requests for other public or commercial uses of this material or for translation rights should be submitted to

5 FOREWORD 3 Foreword School leadership is now an education policy priority around the world. Increased school autonomy and a greater focus on schooling and school results have made it essential to reconsider the role of school leaders. There is much room for improvement to professionalise school leadership, to support current school leaders and to make school leadership an attractive career for future candidates. The ageing of current principals and the widespread shortage of qualified candidates to replace them after retirement make it imperative to take action. Improving School Leadership, Volume 1: Policy and Practice explains why school leadership has become a key policy priority and sets out four policy levers which, taken together, can contribute to improve school leadership and school outcomes. The book is based on an OECD study of school leadership around the world, with the participation of Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flemish and French Community), Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Korea, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland and Scotland). Each of these 22 education systems prepared a detailed background report analysing national approaches to school leadership. In addition, five case studies on school leadership focusing on system improvement and training and development complement the comparative work by providing examples of innovative practice (published in a companion volume, Improving School Leadership, Volume 2: Case Studies on System Leadership). In this way, we were able to collect the information necessary to compare country developments and adopt an innovative and forward-looking approach to policy making. The Improving School Leadership activity produced a significant body of knowledge on this issue in the form of country background reports and innovative case study reports, all of which are available on the OECD website at Many people shared their expertise and knowledge to make this a successful activity and there have been many opportunities for exchange. Three international conferences and three workshops brought together national coordinators, representatives of international organisations and a network of research experts. The authors are indebted to the countries who took part in the study, to the extremely engaged national coordinators, to the expert teams who participated in the country visits and provided valuable comments on the report and to the countries that hosted conferences and workshops. We are grateful to HSBC Education Trust and David Hopkins for supporting the case studies and to Judith Chapman, Andrew Hargreaves, Tony Mackay, Robert Schwartz and Fani Stylianidou for their expert contributions to the activity. This activity was carried out by the Education and Training Policy Division of OECD s Directorate for Education under the leadership of Abrar Hasan (until his retirement) and Deborah Roseveare (since June 2007). Peter Chambers and Susan Copeland edited the report and Judith Corcoran, Jennifer Gouby and Ross Wilkins provided administrative support. IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACTICE ISBN OECD 2008

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7 TABLE OF CONTENTS 5 Table of contents Executive summary... 9 Chapter 1. School leadership matters Introduction The concept of school leadership School leadership is a policy priority School leadership responds to changing policy environments The current reality of school leadership Summary: why school leadership matters Annex 1.A1. Research concerning factors influencing student learning Annex 1.A2. Levels of school policy decision making References Chapter 2. (Re)Defining school leadership responsibilities Supporting school leadership autonomy Core responsibilities of school leadership Improving the definition of school leadership responsibilities Summary conclusions and recommendations Annex 2.A1. Evaluation of public schools in lower secondary education References Chapter 3. Distributing school leadership Who participates in school leadership? Distributed leadership at work School boards play an important role Summary conclusions and recommendations Annex 3.A1. Distribution of leadership and the role of school boards References Chapter 4. Developing skills for effective school leadership Professionalisation of leadership development varies across countries The different stages of leadership development Institutions focused on leadership development Methodology and content Summary conclusions and recommendations Annex 4.A1. Preparatory training for school leadership Annex 4.A2. Formal induction programmes for beginning school leadership Annex 4.A3. In-service professional development for school leadership References IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACTICE ISBN OECD 2008

8 6 TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 5. Making school leadership an attractive profession The supply of school leaders Recruiting an effective workforce Providing adequate remuneration Professional organisations for school leaders Supporting school leaders career development Summary conclusions and recommendations Annex 5.A1. Recruitment of principals Annex 5.A2. Professional associations for school leaders Annex 5.A3. Employment status and duration Annex 5.A4. Performance appraisal of school leaders References Boxes 1.1 The OECD Improving School Leadership activity OECD scenarios: what might schooling look like in the future? Leading learning organisations in Sweden England: using evaluation information for improving performance Communities of schools in Belgium (Flanders) School-municipality co-operation in Finland System leadership in England School leadership frameworks across countries Teachers also exercise leadership roles Distributed leadership in Finland A set of principles for distributed leadership Characterisation of different models of school leadership in England Leadership distribution and rewards in New Zealand and Northern Ireland Training opportunities for school boards Coherent leadership training and development provision in Victoria, Australia Scottish education leadership development Selected leadership qualifications Leadership taster courses in the Netherlands The Swedish national head teachers training programme Some induction programmes and their impact Chile s head teacher training for school leadership The Austrian Leadership Academy Teaming up with the private sector for school leadership development Some features of school leadership development programmes in the United States Bringing business leaders into schools: experience from the Netherlands Recruitment and selection criteria of school leaders in Victoria (Australia) Identifying and developing future leaders Professionalising recruitment procedures in Austria Responding to principals salary concerns in selected countries Individualised salaries in Sweden IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACITCE ISBN OECD 2008

9 TABLE OF CONTENTS 7 Figures 1.1 Number of principals in primary and secondary schools Percentage of principals aged 50 and over Percentage of female principals Average involvement of schools in decision making across OECD countries School leadership autonomy in curricular decisions Observation of lessons by principals or senior staff School leadership autonomy in resources School leadership autonomy in teacher remuneration School leadership autonomy in teacher hiring and firing Who is involved in different school level responsibilities across OECD countries School board participation in school resource decisions Leadership development approaches across countries Secondary school principal salaries in relation to GDP per capita Secondary school principal salaries in relation to teacher salaries IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACTICE ISBN OECD 2008

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11 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 9 Executive summary Why school leadership matters School leadership has become a priority in education policy agendas internationally. It plays a key role in improving school outcomes by influencing the motivations and capacities of teachers, as well as the school climate and environment. Effective school leadership is essential to improve the efficiency and equity of schooling. As countries are seeking to adapt their education systems to the needs of contemporary society, expectations for schools and school leaders are changing. Many countries have moved towards decentralisation, making schools more autonomous in their decision making and holding them more accountable for results. At the same time, the requirement to improve overall student performance while serving more diverse student populations is putting schools under pressure to use more evidence-based teaching practices. As a result of these trends, the function of school leadership across OECD countries is now increasingly defined by a demanding set of roles which include financial and human resource management and leadership for learning. There are concerns across countries that the role of principal as conceived for needs of the past is no longer appropriate. In many countries, principals have heavy workloads; many are reaching retirement and it is getting harder to replace them. Potential candidates often hesitate to apply, because of overburdened roles, insufficient preparation and training, limited career prospects and inadequate support and rewards. These developments have made school leadership a priority in education systems across the world. Policy makers need to enhance the quality of school leadership and make it sustainable. The OECD has identified four main policy levers which, taken together, can improve school leadership practice: 1. (Re)define school leadership responsibilities Research has shown that school leaders can make a difference in school and student performance if they are granted autonomy to make important decisions. However autonomy alone does not automatically lead to improvements unless it is well supported. In addition, it is important that the core responsibilities of school leaders be clearly defined and delimited. School leadership responsibilities should be defined through an understanding of the practices most likely to improve teaching and learning. Policy makers need to: IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACTICE ISBN OECD 2008

12 10 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Provide higher degrees of autonomy with appropriate support School leaders need time, capacity and support to focus on the practices most likely to improve student learning. Greater degrees of autonomy should be coupled with new models of distributed leadership, new types of accountability and training and development for school leadership. Redefine school leadership responsibilities for improved student learning Policy makers and practitioners need to ensure that the roles and responsibilities associated with improved learning outcomes are at the core of school leadership practice. This study identifies four major domains of responsibility as key for school leadership to improve student outcomes: Supporting, evaluating and developing teacher quality: School leaders have to be able to adapt the teaching programme to local needs, promote teamwork among teachers and engage in teacher monitoring, evaluation and professional development. Goal-setting, assessment and accountability: Policy makers need to ensure that school leaders have discretion in setting strategic direction and optimise their capacity to develop school plans and goals and monitor progress, using data to improve practice. Strategic financial and human resource management: Policy makers can enhance the financial management skills of school leadership teams by providing training to school leaders, establishing the role of a financial manager within the leadership team, or providing financial support services to schools. In addition, school leaders should be able to influence teacher recruitment decisions to improve the match between candidates and their school s needs. Collaborating with other schools: This new leadership dimension needs to be recognised as a specific role for school leaders. It can bring benefits to school systems as a whole rather than just the students of a single school. But school leaders need to develop their skills to become involved in matters beyond their school borders. Develop school leadership frameworks for improved policy and practice School leadership frameworks can help provide guidance on the main characteristics, tasks and responsibilities of effective school leaders and signal the essential character of school leadership as leadership for learning. They can be a basis for consistent recruitment, training and appraisal of school leaders. Frameworks should clearly define the major domains of responsibility for school leaders and allow for contextualisation of local and school-level criteria. They should be developed with involvement by the profession. 2. Distribute school leadership The increased responsibilities and accountability of school leadership are creating the need for distribution of leadership, both within schools and across schools. School boards also face many new tasks. While practitioners consider middle-management responsibilities vital for effective school leadership, these practices remain rare and often IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACITCE ISBN OECD 2008

13 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 11 unclear; and those involved are not always recognized for their tasks. Policy makers need to broaden the concept of school leadership and adjust policy and working conditions accordingly. Encourage distribution of leadership Distribution of leadership can strengthen management and succession planning. Distributing leadership across different people and organisational structures can help to meet the challenges facing contemporary schools and improve school effectiveness. This can be done in formal ways through team structures and other bodies or more informally by developing ad hoc groups based on expertise and current needs. Support distribution of leadership There is a need to reinforce the concept of leadership teams in national frameworks, to develop incentive mechanisms to reward participation and performance in these teams and to extend leadership training and development to middle-level management and potential future leaders in the school. Finally, policy makers need to reflect on modifying accountability mechanisms to match distributed leadership structures. Support school boards in their tasks Evidence shows that effective school boards may contribute to the success of their schools. For this to happen, it is crucial to clarify the roles and responsibilities of school boards and ensure consistency between their objectives and the skills and experience of board members. Policy makers can help by providing guidelines for improved recruitment and selection processes and by developing support structures to ensure active participation in school boards, including opportunities for skills development. 3. Develop skills for effective school leadership Country practices and evidence from different sources show that school leaders need specific training to respond to broadened roles and responsibilities. Strategies need to focus on developing and strengthening skills related to improving school outcomes (as listed above) and provide room for contextualisation. Treat leadership development as a continuum Leadership development is broader than specific programmes of activity or intervention. It requires a combination of formal and informal processes throughout all stages and contexts of leadership practice. This implies coherently supporting the school leadership career through these stages: Encourage initial leadership training: Whether initial training is voluntary or mandatory can depend on national governance structures. Governments can define national programmes, collaborate with local level governments and develop incentives to ensure that school leaders participate. In countries where the position is not tenured, a trade-off must be found to make it worthwhile for principals to invest time in professional development. Efforts also need to be made to find the right candidates. IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACTICE ISBN OECD 2008

14 12 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Organise induction programmes: Induction programmes are particularly valuable to prepare and shape initial school leadership practices and they provide vital networks for principals to share concerns and explore challenges. These programmes should provide a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge and self-study. Ensure in-service training to cover need and context: In-service programmes need to be seen in the context of prior learning opportunities for school leadership. Where there are no other initial requirements, basic in-service programmes should encourage development of leadership skills. In-service training should be also offered periodically to principals and leadership teams so they can update their skills and keep up with new developments. Networks (virtual or real) also provide informal development for principals and leadership teams. Ensure consistency of provision by different institutions A broad range of providers cater to school leadership training needs, but the training they offer must be more consistent. In some countries, national school leadership institutions have raised awareness and improved provision of leadership development opportunities. In other countries, where there are many providers but no national orientations, it is important to have clear standards and ensure a focus on quality. Many governments have standards, evaluations and other mechanisms to monitor and regulate programme quality. Ensure appropriate variety for effective training A broad body of knowledge supported by practice has identified the content, design and methods of effective programmes. It points to the following key factors: curricular coherence, experience in real contexts, cohort grouping, mentoring, coaching, peer learning and structures for collaborative activity between the programme and schools. 4. Make school leadership an attractive profession The challenge is to improve the quality of current leadership and build sustainable leadership for the future. Evidence indicates that potential applicants are deterred by the heavy workload of principals and the fact that the job does not seem to be adequately remunerated or supported. Uncertain recruitment procedures and career development prospects for principals may also deter potential candidates. Strategies to attract, recruit and support high-performing school leaders include the following: Professionalise recruitment Recruitment processes can have a strong impact on school leadership quality. While school-level involvement is essential to contextualise recruitment practices, action is necessary at the system level to ensure that recruitment procedures and criteria are effective, transparent and consistent. Succession planning proactively identifying and developing potential leaders can boost the quantity and quality of future school leaders. Eligibility criteria should be broadened to reduce the weight accorded to seniority and attract younger dynamic candidates with different backgrounds. Recruitment procedures should go beyond traditional job interviews to include an expanded set of tools and procedures to assess candidates. Finally, those who are on the hiring side of recruitment panels also need guidelines and training. IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACITCE ISBN OECD 2008

15 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 13 Focus on the relative attractiveness of school leaders salaries The relative attractiveness of salaries for school leaders can influence the supply of high quality candidates. Policy makers need to monitor remuneration compared to similar grades in the public and private sectors and make school leadership more competitive. Establishing separate salary scales for teachers and principals can attract more candidates from among the teaching staff. At the same time, salary scales should reflect leadership structures and school-level factors in order to attract high performing leaders to all schools. Acknowledge the role of professional organisations of school leaders Professional organisations of school leaders provide a forum for dialogue, knowledge sharing and dissemination of best practices among professionals and between professionals and policy makers. Workforce reform is unlikely to succeed unless school leaders are actively involved in its development and implementation through their representative organisations. Provide options and support for career development Providing career development prospects for school leaders can help avoid principal burnout and make school leadership a more attractive career option. There are many ways to make the profession more flexible and mobile, allowing school leaders to move between schools as well as between leadership and teaching and other professions. Current country practice provides some examples to draw from, including alternatives to lifetime contracts through renewable fixedterm contracts and options for principals to step up to new opportunities such as jobs in the educational administration, leadership of groups or federations of schools and consultant leadership roles. IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACTICE ISBN OECD 2008

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17 CHAPTER 1. SCHOOL LEADERSHIP MATTERS 15 Chapter 1 School leadership matters This chapter provides the rationale for policy makers to invest in school leadership policy. It describes the focus of this study, the importance of school leadership and the major challenges countries face in school leadership policy. Effective school leadership is essential to improve teaching and learning within each school and to connect the individual school to the outside world. But school leaders across OECD and partner countries are facing challenges which policy makers need to address. In recent years, the workload of school leaders has expanded and intensified as a result of increased school autonomy and accountability for learning outcomes. As the expectations of what schools should achieve have changed dramatically, countries are seeking to develop new forms of leadership better suited to respond to the needs of rapidly evolving societies. This involves enhancing the capacity of current leaders and preparing and training future leaders. IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACTICE ISBN OECD 2008

18 16 CHAPTER 1. SCHOOL LEADERSHIP MATTERS 1.1 Introduction As the key intermediary between the classroom, the individual school and the education system as a whole, effective school leadership is essential to improve the efficiency and equity of schooling. Within each individual school, leadership can contribute to improve student learning by shaping the conditions and climate in which teaching and learning occur. Beyond the school borders, school leaders can connect and adapt schools to changing external environments. And at the school-systems interface, school leadership provides a bridge between internal school improvement processes and externally initiated reform. But school leadership does not operate in static educational environments. As countries are seeking to adapt their education systems to the needs of contemporary society, the expectations for schools and school leaders have changed profoundly. Many countries have made schools more autonomous in their decision making while centralising standards and accountability requirements and demanding that schools adopt new research-based approaches to teaching and learning. In line with these changes, the roles and responsibilities of school leaders have expanded and intensified. Given the increased autonomy and accountability of schools, leadership at the school level is more important than ever. Policy makers need to adapt school leadership policy to new environments by addressing the major challenges which have arisen over the past decades. There is a growing concern that the role of school principal designed for the industrial age has not changed enough to deal with the complex challenges schools are facing in the 21st century. Countries are seeking to develop new conditions for school leadership better suited to respond to current and future educational environments. As expectations of what school leaders should achieve have changed, so must the definition and distribution of tasks, as well as the levels of training, support and incentives. Ensuring future quality leadership is also vital for school improvement. In most countries, the leadership workforce is ageing and large numbers of school leaders will retire over the next five to ten years. At a time of high demographic turnover in school leaders, education systems need to focus on fostering future leaders and making leadership an attractive profession. The contemporary challenge of leadership, in systemic terms, is not only to improve the quality of current leaders but also to develop clear plans for future leadership and effective processes for leadership succession. The above developments and challenges have made school leadership a priority in education policy agendas across OECD and partner countries. In their 2001 and 2004 meetings, OECD education ministers emphasised the key role of school leadership in helping OECD education systems respond to the needs of rapidly changing societies. In response, the OECD proposed to conduct an international activity to help policy makers compare their approaches to school leadership policy, identify innovative practices and provide policy options for action. Twenty-two education systems in nineteen countries participated actively in the OECD Improving School Leadership activity (Box 1.1) by providing individual country background reports and sharing knowledge to look for viable alternatives. 1 The high level 1 All activity documents can be found on the OECD Improving School Leadership webpages at IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACITCE ISBN OECD 2008

19 CHAPTER 1. SCHOOL LEADERSHIP MATTERS 17 of interest and participation shows that developing and sustaining effective school leadership is of great importance for OECD education systems and is likely to become even more so in the future. The present comparative report draws on materials and events from the OECD Improving School Leadership activity to present a broad analytic overview and set of policy recommendations for improving school leadership. It identifies four policy levers for action: redefining the roles and responsibilities of school leadership; distributing school leadership tasks; developing skills for effective school leadership; and making school leadership an attractive profession. A parallel report Improving School Leadership, Volume 2: Case Studies on System Leadership focuses on approaches that have encouraged and developed school leaders to work together for system-wide school improvement (Pont, Nusche and Hopkins, 2008). Box 1.1 The OECD Improving School Leadership activity The purpose of the OECD activity was to give policy makers information and analysis to help them formulate and implement school leadership policies leading to improved teaching and learning. The objectives were: i) to synthesise research on issues related to improving leadership in schools; ii) to identify innovative and successful policy initiatives and practices; iii) to facilitate exchanges of lessons and policy options among countries; and iv) to identify policy options for governments to consider. Methodology: Parallel complementary approaches were developed to achieve these objectives more effectively. Participating countries provided a country background report following a common framework (analytical strand). Additionally, a small number of case studies in a) school leadership for system-wide improvement and b) training and development of school leaders complement the work by providing examples of innovative practice (innovative case study strand). This approach made it possible to collect the information necessary to compare country developments while adopting a more innovative and forward looking approach to policy making. Outputs: In addition to this report, a companion volume, Improving School Leadership, Volume 2: Case Studies on System Leadership, explores five case studies of innovative practices in system leadership and provides some recommendations. A set of practical materials on school leadership complements this work with the aim of helping translate the recommendations into practice. All reports can be found on the OECD Improving School Leadership web pages at Participating countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flanders and French Community), Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Korea, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland and Scotland). The French and Flemish Communities of Belgium as well as England, Northern Ireland and Scotland participated as independent units, because their education policies are decentralised. Throughout the report, whenever data is available, they are cited separately. The definition of school leaders guiding the OECD activity suggests that effective school leadership may not reside exclusively in formal positions but may instead be distributed across a number of individuals in the school. Principals, deputy and assistant principals, leadership teams, school governing boards and other school-level professional personnel can contribute as leaders to the goal of learning-centred schooling. The precise distribution of these leadership contributions can vary depending on factors such as governance and management structure, levels of autonomy and accountability, school size and complexity and levels of student performance. IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACTICE ISBN OECD 2008

20 18 CHAPTER 1. SCHOOL LEADERSHIP MATTERS 1.2 The concept of school leadership Before moving on to the analysis of school leadership policy, it is important to understand the concept of leadership that this report supports. There is a vast amount of literature exploring generic leadership issues. This report concentrates on school leadership, accepting that there are common elements and trends in leadership practice across sectors and lessons can be learned from non-educational environments as well. A central element of most definitions of leadership is that it involves a process of influence (OECD, 2001a). As Yukl has phrased it, most definitions of leadership reflect the assumption that it involves a social influence process whereby intentional influence is exerted by one person [or group] over other people [or groups] to structure the activities and relationships in a group or organisation (Yukl, 2002). The term intentional is important, as leadership is based on articulated goals or outcomes to which the process of influence is expected to lead. Depending on country contexts, the term school leadership is often used interchangeably with school management and school administration. Although the three concepts overlap, we use them with a difference in emphasis. An often-quoted phrase is managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing (Bennis and Nanus, 1997). While leadership involves steering organisations by shaping other people s attitudes, motivations and behaviours, management is more closely associated with maintenance of current operations (Bush and Glover, 2003). Dimmock (1999) provides a distinction between school leadership, management and administration while also recognising that the responsibilities of school leaders often encompass all three: Irrespective of how these terms are defined, school leaders experience difficulty in deciding the balance between higher order tasks designed to improve staff, student and school performance (leadership), routine maintenance of present operations (management) and lower order duties (administration). This report considers that successful schools need effective leadership, management and administration. While the report s focus is on leadership, this term may encompass managerial and administrative tasks as well. The three elements are so closely intertwined that it is unlikely for one of them to succeed without the others. The emphasis of this report is on school leaders, including but not confined to school principals. 2 The concept of principalship is rooted in the industrial model of schooling, where one individual bears the prime responsibility for the entire organisation. Leadership is a broader concept where authority to lead does not reside only in one person, but can be distributed among different people within and beyond the school. School leadership can encompass people occupying various roles and functions such as principals, deputy and assistant principals, leadership teams, school governing boards and school-level staff involved in leadership tasks. 2 The terms principal, director, headmaster, head teacher and head will be used interchangeably, except when some special connotation requires the use of one term in particular, in which case the reason for that designation will be clear in context. IMPROVING SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, VOLUME 1: POLICY AND PRACITCE ISBN OECD 2008

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