05 SES 09 A, Improving Schools in Challenging Circumstances
The context of school work plays an important role for learning and performance development of students. In this respect, it is crucial to learn about how schools can deal with challenging circumstances. These challenging circumstances arise from being located in a socially deprived area with decreased opportunities for children and teenagers due to precarious living conditions, such as a high unemployment rate and job insecurity, low educational success, and emigration of educated and qualified people. Schools in these areas are more likely to be confronted with students who have language deficiencies, whose parents can or will not encourage and support them, who often have problematic school careers as well as social behavior problems, and whose achievements are below average. Nevertheless, some schools manage to work efficiently despite these challenging circumstances. The work of these schools, which are succeeding in developing individual strategies to overcome these disadvantageous conditions, has attracted increasing attention worldwide. On this account, this symposium aims to analyze the process features of successful school and class development schools in challenging circumstances in Europe. In this, the symposium draws on school and organization development models as well as empirical evidence on the characteristics of 'improving schools'. By linking and contrasting results from different European countries, the topic can be discussed with a broader perspective, which helps revealing national differences as well as similarities in improvement strategies for schools in challenging environments. The main objective is to elaborate the parameters that make it possible for these schools to work successfully despite their unfavorable conditions. The symposium especially considers how leadership and management regarding internal communication, school identity and collaborative structures are advanced and refined, and how external support structures and networks are used to enhance these processes.
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