J. Urbanovič, J. Navickaitė, R. Dačiūlytė

Mykolas Romeris university (LITHUANIA)
Researches on the topic in question show that:
• There is insufficient evidence allowing to conclude that there is a direct link between the level of school autonomy and pupils’ academic achievements
• however, in schools with developed leadership skills pupils tend to have better academic achievements and
• impact of school leadership on academic achievement tends to be stronger in schools with higher degree of school autonomy.

Thus, there is a strong interdependence between autonomy of schools, triggered by the ongoing global public management decentralization processes, and school leadership development. The success of school autonomy largely depends on the managerial capabilities at the school level. The school will be as much autonomous, as much advantage school leaders are able to take of the autonomy granted to them and their ability and willingness to share increased responsibility and leadership with other members of school community.

This research is designed to research school leadership and school autonomy by identifying and analysing different elements and factors influencing school, revealing principles of autonomous school management and preconditions for successful school leadership development. The research examines the conceptual models of school autonomy and its characteristics, perception and expression of autonomous management principles in schools; substantiate the characteristics of school leadership (transactional, transformational or distributed) expression in the context of school autonomy.

Research questions:
• How school communities evaluate the leadership at schools and how they perceived the principles of self-governance/ autonomous governance?
• What are theoretical precondition for leadership having a varied degree of autonomy in school management?
• What are the factors determining the success of leadership in a autonomous school?
• What problems arise for school leaders while applying self-management model in schools?

Empirical research is carried out in 87 Lithuanian general education schools (in about 8.5 percent of the general set). The stratified sampling has been applied when performing the research. The sampling unit is Lithuanian general education school. 3149 teachers, 87 principals and 170 deputies are participating in research.

Empirical research incorporates a combined study – quantitative research (questionnaires for teachers, principals and deputies in writing) is aimed at determining the elements of expression of school leadership (transactional, transformational or distributed) as well as determining a degree of perception and expression/application of autonomy in schools, while qualitative research (semi-structured interviews with school principals) is aimed at identifying both the factors determining successful application of autonomous management models and preconditions for successful leadership development.

Developed methodology and the results obtained will allow to construct a model of successful interaction (harmony) between school leadership and autonomous management and to identify the factors ensuring successful school activities.