26 SES 03 A, School Leadership in Portugal
Priority education policies in Europe have been object of debate for some decades. Critical studies have followed diverse analytical foci: their legitimacy and social relevance, motivations and consequences; contribution to just distribution of the educational opportunities; and the emergent meanings for education in the actual knowledge society and economy. Contemporary debates address the “combinatory effect” of policies in time of crisis, particularly concerning the effects of a “second order”. Some authors even question the “school effect” to the extent it effectively integrates the principles of democracy and social justice. Among other studies, Demeuse et al. (2008) call attention to “the historic march towards equity” and underline the current inversion of values that minimizes equality, by giving incentives to meritocratic practices in schools and prioritizing social cohesion and equity. This orientation pervades European policies for the year 2020 and constitutes the axiological context for the Portuguese policies priority education policies. Indeed, the analysis of the legislative texts, since the 90s, shows a progressive trend, from “borrowing” and “correcting” to more “reconstructive” policies.
The present study is part of a larger national research project on the evolution of the Portuguese educational priority intervention policies (TEIP) and focuses on school leadership. In the context of such policies, it matters to recognize that social and economic transformations are indeed influencing the understanding of the schools educative mission, as they have also increased school leaders’ role complexity, particularly when schools are under special support programs. Furthermore, considered as a “place in diverse worlds” (Dérouet, 2000), schools are also becoming more and more places “with multiple meanings” (Estêvão, 2012).
Recent European Union policies on education converge with OCDE reports and European studies in reinforcing the pedagogical, social, and ethical relevance of leadership, particularly when the greatest imperative is to meeting social and educational challenges in the present time of crisis. Indeed, there is substantive evidence that school leaders, as key change agents, share with teachers the responsibility for the students’ success, while building and sustaining distributive leadership. But, successful leaders develop strategic and complementary answers to dealing with the schools contexts complexity. As a recent study (Day et al., 2009, p. 193) shows, leadership integrates both “a confluence of social aspiration and professional responsibility”, and “a sense of moral purpose and social justice.” In Portugal, such complex challenges, confronting societal needs and professional practices, are still more acute in schools located in communities characterized by high levels of social and economic disadvantage.
Although centred on the local production of the educational priority policies, this paper do not ignore assumptions regarding the larger contexts that have influenced such policies, since the Lisbon Strategy to the more recent 2020 frame of reference. Yet, other research assumptions regard Portuguese specificities concerning decentralization and schools autonomy. In contrast with some European countries, a critical regard finds ambivalences and contradictions (Lima, 2011). In the face of a persistent ‘recentralization’ system that is using now more sophisticated forms of “remote control”, leaders in TEIP schools might take autonomous positions, suggesting “normative infidelities”. In contrast, other schools might prefer following policies by the letter, that is, implementing policies in strict obedience to official regulations, as expressed in the contract-programme signed by the school leader and the representative of the ministry of education. On the basis of these assumptions, the present research purported to (1) discern the meanings attributed to the TEIP program; (b) capture the heterogeneity of the local logics of action subjacent to the process of appropriation and production of priority educational policies; (c) identifying differential forms of regulation with ministerial instances, and (d) characterizing differences among schools regarding leadership orientation.
Bacharach, S. B., Bamberger, P., & Sonnenstuhl, W. J. (1996). The organizational transformation process: The micropolitics of dissonance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41, 3, 477-506 Ball, S. J., Maguire, M., & Brown, A. (2012). How schools do policy. Policy enactment in secondary schools. London: Routledge. Ball, S. (1998). Big Policies/Small World: An introduction to international perspectives in education policy, Comparative Education, vol. 34,2, 119-130. Buchanan, D. A. (1999). The logical of political action: an experiment with the epistemology of the particular. British Journal of Management, vol. 10, 573-588. Day, C., Leithwood, K. (Ed.). (2006). Successful School Leadership: An International Perspective. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Publishers. Day, C., Sammons, P., Hopkins, D., Harris, A., Leithwood, K., Gu, Q., Brown E., Ahtaridou, E., & Kington, A. (2009). The Impact of School Leadership on Pupil Outcomes. Final Report. Nottingham: National College for School Leadership. Demeuse, M., Frandji, D., Greger, D., & Rochex, J. Y. (2008). Les politiques d’éducation prioritaire en Europe: Conceptions, mises en oeuvre, débats. Lyon: Institute National de Recherche Pédagogique. Duke, D. (2010). Differentiating school leadership: Facing the challenges of practice. Thousand Oaks: CA: Corwin Press. Estêvão, C.V. (2012). Justiça e educação. Justiça e educação na era dos mercados. Porto: Porto Editora. Colecção Educação e Formação. Gewirtz, S., Ball, S. J., & Bowe, R. (1995). Markets, Choice, and Equity in Education. Buckingham: Open University Press. Harris, A. (2001). Holding the fort? Leading and improving schools in difficulty. Management in Education, 15(1), 15 – 26. James, C., & Connolly, U. (2003). Effective change in schools. London: RoutledgeFalmer. Leithwood, K., & Riehl, C. (2005). What we know about successful school leadership. In W. Firestone & C. Riehl (Eds.), A new agenda: Directions for research on educational leadership (pp. 22-47). New York: Teachers College Press. Lima, L. C. (2011). Da deslocação do poder central ao retorno do poder. In A educação na república (pp. 51-54). PORFEDIÇÕES L.da. Nicolaidou, M., & Ainscow, M. (2005). Understanding failing schools: perspectives from the inside. School Effectiveness and School Improvement Vol. 16, No. 3, 229 – 248. OECD (2008), Improving school leadership. Volume1: Policy and Practice, Volume 2: case studies on system leadership. Oecd.org\ document\18/0,3746,en_2649_37455_41165970_1_1_1_37455,00.html. Rochex, J-Y., & Crinon, J. (2011). (Dir.), La construction des inégalités scolaires. Au coeur des pratiques et des dispositifs d'enseignement, PUF, coll. Paideia, ISBN : 978-2-7535-1718-9 Van-Zanten, A. (2001). L’école de la périphérie: scolarité et ségrégation en banlieue. Paris, PUF, 424 p.
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