26 SES 16 A, Exploring Educational Leadership in Schools and other Institutions
With the academic year 2018/19, eleven University Colleges of Teacher Education in Austria started a Bachelor Study Programme in the field of Early Childhood Education. This is innovative, because in Austria becoming a teacher in early childhood education is a non academic track. This Bachelor programme has been developed to professionalize both educational leaders and educators in early childhood education institutions who are interested in holding a leading position. The curriculum of the North-East Association of University Colleges of Teacher Education places an emphasis on the development of leadership skills and their relevance. The professionalization of staff in early childhood education follows a trend that emanated from Germany about ten years ago (for an overview see Helm, 2010).
The early childhood education attributes great importance to the manager´s responsibilities when it comes to pedagogical quality, and, in this context, the demand for academic training is growing (e.g. VBW, 2012). Despite this, there has been little research on the topic of leadership in early childhood education (Hujala, Waniganayake & Rodd, 2013; Hujala et al., 2016):
Strehmel & Ulber (2014) describe the tasks of leaders in early childhood education institutions systematically and theory-based according to the "leadership puzzles" (Simsa & Patak,2008). This model outlines the main areas of leadership in non-profit organizations: (1) Leading oneself, (2) Leading staff, (3) Forming collaboration, (4) Developing organization, (5) Fulfilling tasks, (6) Observing conditions and trends, and (7) Developing strategy.
Whereas Simsa and Patak (2008, 2016) look at general leadership issues, Strehmel and Ulber (2014, 2017) describe and characterize more specifically the tasks of leading in the context of early childhood education. This contribution wants to focus on the competencies, that are needed to accomplish these specific leadership tasks. For the school context, Schratz et al. (2013) developed the “Central Five”: a) Leading and managing learning and teaching, b) Leading and managing change, c) Leading and managing the self, d) Leading and managing others, e) Leading and managing the institutions. The areas of this competency framework define the knowledge, skills and attitudes an institutional leader should have in order to be successful. At the same time, these areas of competence form the theoretical foundation of our recent contribution to scientific research in the field.
The following research questions are derived from this:
a. What are current and future challenges for leaders in early childhood education? How do these challenges affect their areas of responsibilities?
b. What skills do leaders in early childhood education need in order to fulfil these responsibilities? To what extent do they already have these skills?
The methodological approach is composed of qualitative and quantitative parts. • The qualitative part consists of group discussions (Lamnek & Krell, 2016) which are led by the research team. The discussion is about tasks and competencies of leaders in early childhood education. The transcrips of the group discussions are evaluated content analytically (Mayring, 2015). Based on this, the research team will develop a written survey tool which aims at identifying the skills of leaders in early childhood education. • The quantitative part is covered by means of a questionnaire which must be answered online. With the data gained from the survey, factor analyses will be carried out to form individual dimensions and scales. These will be presented descriptively. The target group of the research are kindergarten supervisors who are responsible for the quality control and the continuous development of the system, and therefore, act as the heads of kindergarten directors. • For the qualitative part, one person from each of the nine federal states is randomly selected for participation; in Vienna, there are two persons due to the different support structures. Altogether, 10 participants have been invited to take part in the discussions in two groups (Austria - East, Austria - West). 10 People from 8 federal states took part in the group discussions. • For the quantitative part, all kindergarten supervisors have been invited to participate. The target group comprises 122 people from all over Austria. The response rate was 35%. The qualitative part of the research project serves to identify fields of competence and, based on this, to formulate individual skills for the competence model. In the written survey, it will be a matter of empirically mapping the competence model and of capturing both the ideal competence profile and the profile which leaders currently have. In this way, the research will help to enforce teacher professionalization as an ongoing process in Austria.
With regard to management and leadership tasks, the results show that … - the leader is responsible for implementing the national ECE programme appropriately (e.g. to promote education for the child), but that he or she does not always have the necessary areas of responsibility (sitting in on classes, monitoring planning and documentation of staff members). - the leaders ensure the effective use of human resources in the institution (preparation of duty rosters, use of replacement staff, etc.), but they are not jointly responsible for personnel selection. - the leaders are committed to a permanent development of their professionalism, but that they don´t use network with other managers for professional exchange in extensive way. With regards to leadership and management skills, the results show that skills in the domain of “leading and managing learning” are highly developed compared to skills in the domain of “managing the institution” and “leading others”. Skills in the domains of “self management”, “change management” and “shaping cooperation” are in between. All in all the study reveals vague areas concerning the responsibilities of the manager of an ECE institution, the institutional sponsor and the supersvisor. With regard to further training, there is a clear mandate.
Helm, J. (2010). Das Bachelorstudium Frühpädagogik. Zugangswege – Studienzufriedenheit – Berufserwartungen. Ergebnisse einer Befragung von Studierenden. Weiterbildungsinitiative Frühpädagogische Fachkräfte. WiFF-Studien, Band 5. München. E., Hujala, M., Waniganayake, & J., Rodd (Eds.) (2013). Researching Leadership in Early Childhood Education. Tampere: Suomen Yliopistopaino Oy - Juvenes Print. Hujala, E., Eskelinen, M., Keskinen, S., Chen, C., Inoue, C., Matsumoto, M. & Kawase, M. (2016). Leadership Tasks in Early Childhood Education in Finland, Japan, and Singapore. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 30 (3), 406–421. Lamnek, S. & Krell, C. (2016). Qualitative Sozialforschung. Weinheim und Basel: Beltz. Mayring, P. (2015). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Grundlagen und Techniken. Weinheim und Basel: Beltz. Schratz, M. et al. (2013). The Art and Science of Leading a School. Central 5: A Central European view on competencies for school leaders. Final report of the project: International Co-operation for School Leadership Involving Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden. Verfügbar unter: https://www.leadershipacademy.at/downloads/20140422_Central5.pdf [11.12.18] Simsa, R. & Patak, M. (2008). Leadership in Non-Profit-Organisationen. Die Kunst der Führung ohne Profitdenken. Wien: Linde. Simsa, R. & Patak, M. (2016). Leadership in Non-Profit-Organisationen. Die Kunst der Führung ohne Profitdenken. Wien: Linde. Strehmel, P. & Ulber, D. (2014). Leitung von Kindertageseinrichtungen. Eine Expertise der Weiterbildungsinitiative Frühpädagogischer Fachkräfte. WiFF-Expertise, Nr. 39. München. Strehmel, P. & Ulber, D. (2017). Kernaufgaben der Kita-Leitung im System der Kindertagesbetreuung. In P., Strehmel, & D., Ulber (Hrsg.), Kitas leiten und entwickeln. Ein Lehrbuch zum Kita-Management (S. 15–37). Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Vereinigung der Bayerischen Wirtschaft e. V. (Hrsg.) (2012), Professionalisierung in der Frühpädagogik. Qualifikationsniveau und -bedingungen des Personals in Kindertagesstätten. Gutachten des Aktionsrats Bildung. Münster: Waxmann.
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