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School Leadership as a Comprehensive Strategy, Prof. Michael Schratz

Peer learning activity: Munich, 6-7 February 2012

Monday 6 February, 14:00-14:20
Session: School Leadership as a Comprehensive Strategy

Presentation by Prof. Michael Schratz, Faculty of Education, University of Innsbruck, Austria

For the first part of Prof. Schratz’ presentation he focused largely on creating an understanding of the basic assumptions underlying school leadership and illustrated the position taken by several scholars in this area. Emphasising the need to consider schools as organic organisations and the process of leadership as being more about relationship rather than individual people or processes, he provided a snapshot of school leadership as being a process which goes largely undetected. He then went on to describe the relationship between school management and school leadership, one which he defined as being effectively in the nature of a yin/yang relationship where the two are difficult to segregate.

Prof. Schratz then raised the question as to what was needed for effective system wide change in school leadership and pointed to the need for school leaders to have a ‘system thinkers in action’ approach, one which is largely proactive, combining theory with practice ensuring the school leaders not only theoretically informed but also practically experienced arguing that leadership as a skill cannot be taught but only learned. .

Prof. Schratz went on then to describe and illustrate the 8 principles of the Austrian Leadership Academy, a highly innovative initiative launched by the Austrian Minister of education to raise school leadership standards across all schools in Austria .

The principles that govern the work of the academy are:

  1. Involve all types of schools and all levels of the system (connect horizontal and vertical system levels)
  2. Work with the whole system in large group arrangements (max 300 leaders from all over Austria)
  3. Build networks rather than a new building site
  4. Create a mind-set for sustainable change
  5. Develop both the person and the system
  6. Create system thinkers in action (theoreticians & practitioners)
  7. Reflect and connect (personal professional peer support)
  8. Connect leadership with learning

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