26 SES 03 A, School Leadership in Portugal
The administration and management of Portuguese schools are governed by a single legal framework, regardless of the social, cultural and economic development differences in the various regions throughout the country.
Although based on democratic principles, school principals are responsible for managing the human resources placed at their disposal but also for providing the public service of education. As a result of which, they have a dual role to play: that of manager and that of leader. As managers, they must control their school’s budget and administer other instruments used to organise life in the school; as leaders, they must establish goals for the future, encourage commitments and orientate change. This is an exercise in multiple, dynamic leadership, which must be based on dialogue and interaction with the other teachers in the school and allow specific local issues to be addressed, as well as involving making decisions that may be fundamental for the professional development of the teachers and the organisation of the school, such as the diversity of courses offered.
According to Bolívar (2012), the school management model used in Portugal is currently going through “a transitional period between a bureaucratic-administrative school management system, typical of early modernity, and the new guidelines for pedagogical leadership” (p. 49).
In short, the action of leadership must be creative and innovative insofar as leading is, without doubt, a creative process wherein the leaders must be concerned with the creation and recreation of learning communities that involve the entire democratic life of the educational community (Costa, 2000; Barker, 2007), and the principals should consider themselves as agents of change and resources that take advantage of the skills of the other elements of the school, in benefit of a common vision and mission (Bolívar, 2012; Coppiteres, 2005).
The approach to the concept of leadership, and research into it, are relatively recent in Portugal, and both the legislation and the representative universe of teachers and schools – specifically the principals – continue to maintain a classic position of administration and management of the educational organisation (English, 2008; Fullan, 2001; Nóvoa, 1992).
In this communication we are presenting the results of a multicase study carried out in the Algarve, the southernmost region in Portugal and an extremely diverse one both in geographical and in cultural terms.
In this varied terrain, the schools and their principals, through creative and assertive leadership practices, rise to the challenges that circumstances place in their path. They do so by employing a variety of means, such as strengthening the role of those holding intermediate leadership positions, sharing the decision-making processes, promoting the dissemination of information and by the creative, effective and innovative use of resources.
The data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews with principals of schools/school clusters located in urban, suburban and rural settings, and whose leadership was classed as “Very Good” in the external evaluation carried out on their respective school organisation. The data were systematised and analysed on the basis of the following themes: the teachers’ professional development, the schools’ organisational development and the identifying features of the principals.
Bolívar, A. (2012). A investigação sobre a liderança educacional e o seu papel na melhoria. Uma revisão atual In A. Bolívar, Melhorar os Processos e os Resultados Educativos. O que nos ensina a investigação (pp. 89-126). Vila Nova de Gaia: Fundação Manuel Leão. Barker, B. (2007). The Leadership Paradox: Can schools leaders transform student outcomes? School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 18(1), 21-43. Coppieters, P. (2005). Turning schools into learning organizations. European Journal of Teacher Education, 28(2), 129-139. Costa, J. A. (2000). Liderança nas Organizações: revisitando teorias organizacionais num olhar cruzado sobre as escolas. In J. A. Costa, A. N. Mendes & A. Ventura (orgs.). Liderança e estratégia nas organizações escolares (pp. 15-33). Aveiro: Universidade de Aveiro. De Ketele, J.-M., & Roegiers, X. (1993). Metodologia da Recolha de Dados. (C. A. Brito, Trad.) Lisboa: Instituto Piaget. English, F. W. (2008). The Art of Educational Leadership. Balancing Performance and Accountability. London, Sage Publications, Ltd. Fonseca, A. (2000). A liderança escolar e a comunicação relacional. In J. A. Costa, A. N. Mendes & A. Ventura (orgs.). Liderança e estratégia nas organizações escolares (pp. 137-151). Aveiro: Universidade de Aveiro. Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Nóvoa, A. (1992). Para uma análise das instituições escolares. In A. Nóvoa (coord.). As Instituições Escolares em Análise (pp. 13-43). Lisboa: Publicações Dom Quixote.
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