26 SES 01 B, Principal Development
In research on school development, much reliance is put on school principals as the front figures or those influencing schools in order to achieve better, get better results and make changes in underperforming schools (Day 2007; Davis et al 2005; Harris & Chapman 2002; Youngs & King 2002). In Sweden the National Agency for Education (Skolverket) uses the concept of ’pedagogical leadership’ (sw. pedagogiskt ledarskap) to focus on the principals´ responsibility to work with teacher training and teacher involvement in the pupils’ goal attainment in school. In this study, I will use the concept of educational leadership, though I am well aware of the different possible meanings it may have. An analysis of the concept could well be a separate study. I use educational leadership in a more narrow sense, as formulated by the Agency.
Educational leadership is the focus in one of the Agency’s courses in the National School LeadershipTraining Programme for school principals. Some Swedish universities have been commissioned to run the course since 2011; it comprises 7. 5 credits completed within a school year (in Swedish called ’Rektorslyftet’). In this course school principals with ‘ work experience as a principal’ who have also gone through a previous education programme for principals are welcome. The Agency’s definition of educational leadership can be understood as the purpose of the university course (Skolverket 2011, p 1): to ”help school principals to gain knowledge and skills that will improve their conditions for exercising educational leadership in relation to the teachers’ teaching and the pupils’/students’ possibilities to attain national targets.” (my translation.)
The concept of ‘educational leadership’ (pedagogiskt ledarskap) has been used for some decades in Sweden primarily as political rhetoric not based on research (cf Nestor 1993), but during the past few years it has been used more concretely in the Agency’s texts.
Bearing this in mind, I find it interesting to study how school principals understand educational leadership in relation to their everyday work.
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