SCHOOL LEADERS’ COMPETENCIES TO BUILD LEARNING COMMUNITIES
University of Brescia (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN12 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:In 2000 at the European Council meeting in Lisbon, education was presented as one of the principal instruments in the struggle to make Europe the most competitive knowledge economy in the world. Education system were to respond to the requirements of the knowledge economy in order to promote a high quality of education, according to an approach of inclusion and equal opportunities for all (European Conference of Poitiers, 2008).
The growing school’s complexity and autonomy need educational leaders combining school management skills with leadership ones. New leadership figures (that be principals, headmasters, teachers in charge of special projects) in the European scholastic systems are the starting point for a more inclusive society, transforming schools in “learning communities” where individuals share common purposes, collaborate and actively promote lifelong learning opportunities (Watkins & Marsik 1999, Wenger et al. 2002, Kilpatrick, Barret & Jones 2005).
The paper aims to answer the following question: considering the different school governance models in the European countries, what are and what could be the competencies of European leaders to assume a school governance model promoting learning communities.
The research was carried out with the focus groups technique (Kitzinger 1994, Morgan 1997) in some European countries (Greece, The Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and Italy) involving the main categories of school’s stakeholders: principals, teachers, pupils, parents and others (politicians and employees of education in the public administration, employees in vocational guidance and counselling service, associations, enterprises, universities, etc.). Especially, the question addressed to all categories of stakeholders was: “What abilities should a principal have in order to give a positive contribution to the school life in general and, in particular, to create, develop and maintain an effective learning community?”
From the combined analysis of focus groups and literature review, a training path model was developed and it was tested on a group of educational leaders in the mentioned countries, in order to define a common training model (as a mix of lessons based on active didactics, inductive methods, concrete cases, project work and at-distance training provided through learning platforms), usable by European countries and, at the same time, differentiable on the basis of each country’s particular needs.
The paper is a work in progress of two-years project financed by European Union (Culture and Education General Directorate) in October 2010 “School Governance to build a Learning Community” with the involvement of Greece, The Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and Italy. The final purpose of the project refers to design, test, improve and disseminate an European training model for school leaders towards a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, according to the EU's growth strategy for the coming decade (“Europe 2020”, European Commission 2010).
Keywords: School leader, learning community, school governance.