R. Dorczak, A. Hesse-Gawęda

Jagiellonian University (POLAND)
Leadership is undoubtedly a key factor contributing to the effectiveness of schools as organizations and, what is even more important, to the educational achievements of students. The importance of leadership has been recognised by the OECD, the European Commission and many educational bodies at the national level in most European countries trying to implement educational reforms aiming at the improvement of school systems. Polish educational system can be shown as a good example of such an interest in educational leadership as the key element of school transformation. Recent changes in the area of school leaders’ development and training have been strongly focused on school leadership instead of (or in addition to) school management.

At the same time, we must notice that it is not clear how we should define leadership adequately to the needs of educational organizations. That difficulty can be noticed both in educational leadership theory and practice where there are many different ways of understanding leadership. Starting from a short review of theories or paradigms of leadership, this paper tries to point out the way of understanding leadership that is the best from the perspective of education.

To find out if such an understanding is present in thinking of existing school head teachers, research was carried out with participation of a group of 150 head teachers from Polish schools of different types. They were asked to assess their style of leadership using the questionnaire based on Avery’s (2004) typology of leadership paradigms (classical, transactional, visionary and organic). The paper presents result of that study with special emphasis on differences in understanding of leadership between groups of head teachers of schools of different types: primary, lower secondary and upper secondary. It also tries to offer some recommendations for training and professional development of school heads based on the acquired results.