04 SES 06 B, Leading From The Front: Leadership And School Administration As Agents For Inclusive Change
Within the research on inclusive education, leadership in general and, more specific, the role of a school’s principal is discussed as a crucial factor for successful developing inclusive schools. Research supports the hypothesis that inclusive education can be fostered by a strong, but supportive and distributed leadership with focus on establishing inclusion as a shared value (Ainscow, Dyson, & Weiner, 2013; Billingsley & McLeskey, 2014; Huber, 2017; Lindsay, 2007; Authors, 2017).
This paper presents the final results and conclusions of a project on evaluating the principal’s role in inclusive education in one federal state of Germany. The main focus of the presentation will be on an integrated framework model of the principals leadership role for inclusive education (Authors, under review) that derived from the projects results.
Those were the main questions of the project:
- How did the (formal) role of principal leadership change due to the implementation of the inclusive education program?
- How do principals describe their own leadership role and their leadership style?
- What strategies do the principals (successfully) use to foster the implementation and development of inclusive education?
- Under which framework conditions do principals work at inclusive schools?
To answer these questions, mainly three theoretical frameworks have been used in the study: The educational governance perspective (Altrichter & Maag Merki, 2016; Altrichter & Soukup-Altrichter, 2008), the theory of recontextualization (Fend, 2008), and the four-frame-model of leadership orientation (Bolman & Deal, 2013).
Theory of recontextualization is based on the phenomenon that, despite the existence of an “official program”, schools differ regarding the actual implementation of this program. This can be explained as follows: the actors at each system level of the educational system adapt the official program to their framework conditions, collective and individual mind sets, and their own abilities.
Educational governance as a perspective for research describes governance not as a unilateral and hierarchical process, but as the coordination and reciprocal influence of the actors within a network. This leads to the argumentation that governance doesn’t work by order and obedience, but in fact is a combination of several strategies like input/output regulation, building followership, using market mechanisms and so on.
The four-frame-model of leadership orientation, in contrast to models of leadership styles, focuses on the way how leaders interpret their organisation and the processes and challenges they have to face. The model distinguishes four frames, each of them one possible interpretation for a situation, a task, a process and vice versa. These four frames are the structural frame, the human resource frame, the political frame, and the symbolic frame.
We selected 18 schools across the federal state which represented all school administration districts, all types of schools and the difference between cities and rural areas. The principals have then been contacted via phone to be asked for attendance in an interview study. With 15 of the principals we could conduct qualitative expert interviews with a duration of about 45 minutes up to 120 minutes. The transcripts of the interviews then were analysed using qualitative content analysis (Schreier, 2012). Most categories were built data driven. For analysing the leadership orientation style, concept driven categories have been used (source: Bonsen, 2003) as well as for analysing principals’ perceptions of inclusive education (sources: Authors, 2015; Piezunka, Schaffus, & Grosche, 2017). To develop an integrated model of principals leadership role from this results, the educational governance perspective, the theory of recontextualization, and prior findings on successful leadership strategies for inclusive education have been used as a framework for further analysis.
Our findings indicate that principal leadership for inclusive schools is, in general, simply principal leadership. Despite this, it can be shown that some aspects of the principals activities get more complex and time-consuming. The findings furthermore indicate that principals of inclusive schools are more aware for political and symbolic aspects of schools. Framework conditions for leadership activities interacted with the leadership orientation style only while framework conditions for inclusive education interacted with the principals’ perspectives on inclusive education only. But, within the process of recontextualization, leadership orientation style and principals’ perspective on inclusive education interacted with each other. From the conclusion of all results of the study we could draw an integrated framework model of the principals leadership role for inclusive education that combines our findings with (1) the theory of recontextualization, (2) the educational governance perspective, (3) the leadership orientation style, and (4) the prior findings on successful leadership strategies for inclusive education. This model implicates desiderata for further research that will be discussed in the paper.
Authors (2015). Authors (2017). Authors (under review). Ainscow, M., Dyson, A., & Weiner, S. (2013). From Exclusion to Inclusion: Ways of Responding in Schools to Students with Special Educational Needs. Manchester, UK: Centre for Equity in Education. Abgerufen von https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED546818.pdf Altrichter, H., & Maag Merki, K. (2016). Steuerung der Entwicklung des Schulwesens [Governance of the educational system’s development ]. In H. Altrichter & K. Maag Merki (Hrsg.), Handbuch Neue Steuerung im Schulsystem (S. 1–27). Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-531-18942-0_1 Altrichter, H., & Soukup-Altrichter, K. (2008). Changes in Educational Governance through more autonomous Decisionmaking and In-School Curricula? International Journal of Contemporary Sociology, 45(2), 33–48. Billingsley, B. S., & McLeskey, J. (2014). What Are the Roles of Principals in Inclusive Schools? In J. McLeskey, N. L. Waldron, F. Spooner, & B. Algozzine (Hrsg.), Handbook of Effective Inclusive Schools (S. 67–79). New York & London: Routledge. Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2013). Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, & Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Bonsen, M. (2003). Schule, Führung, Organisation: Eine empirische Studie zum Organisations- und Führungsverständnis von Schulleiterinnen und Schulleitern [School, leadership, organisation: An empirical study on principals’ perceptions of organisation and leadership]. Münster [u.a.]: Waxmann. Fend, H. (2008). Neue Theorie der Schule: Einführung in das Verstehen von Bildungssystemen [New theory of school: Introduction to the comprehension of educational systems]. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Huber, S. G. (2017). Schulleitungen als Gestaltende inklusiver Schulentwicklung [Principals as designers of inclusive school development]. Sonderpädagogische Förderung heute, 62(2), 121–136. Lindsay, G. (2007). Educational psychology and the effectiveness of inclusive education/mainstreaming. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(1), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1348/000709906X156881 Piezunka, A., Schaffus, T., & Grosche, M. (2017). Vier Definitionen von schulischer Inklusion und ihr konsensueller Kern: Ergebnisse von Experteninterviews mit Inklusionsforschenden [Four definitions of inclusion in schools and their consensual core: Results from expert interviews with researchers in the field of inclusive education]. Unterrichtswissenschaft, 45(4), 207–222. https://doi.org/10.3262/UW1704207 Schreier, M. (2012). Qualitative Content Analysis in Practice. London: SAGE.
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