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EPNoSL

Second Period Publishable Summary

A. Objectives of the project:

 

EPNoSL is a response to the EAC/42/2010 Call’s objectives where the aim was to

establish a Europe-wide network of relevant organizations to promote the implementation of the priorities for the development of school leadership that were identified in recent [ref. made those of Nov. 2001, 2008 and 2009] Council Conclusions.

 

Within this broad objective, the Call specifically called for

The establishment of a platform to facilitate knowledge exchange between the engaged institutions and stakeholders, as well as the stimulation of cooperation within and in-between stakeholder groups.

 

Within this context the broad objectives of EPNoSL’s Second Period were set as:

  • to promote the implementation of the priorities for the development of school leadership that were identified in Council Conclusions;
  • to facilitate knowledge exchange between organisations and individuals responsible for developing school leadership policymaking and practice including national policymakers, practitioners, researchers and stakeholders;
  • to stimulate high level cooperation between policy makers and practitioners and to stimulate the further development of national policies and provision through, for example, peer learning, exchanges, and thematic group working to develop shared understanding and approaches on issues of common interest.

 

B. Work performed and main results:

 

In the second year of its implementation, project activities and outputs have primarily focused on networking amongst different stakeholders on SL, enhancing the networking capacity of target groups and on the specification and in-depth discussion of policies that can support the promotion of school leadership for equity and learning across Europe. Networking activities were intensive at different policy levels – European, regional, national, local, with diverse types of events and strategies employed for achieving impact and engaging targeted SL stakeholder groups. Networking at the European level was supported by the organisation of two peer learning activities (PLAs), by the professional associations networking activities, and virtual knowledge exchanges (webinars, online forums, newsletters). At the regional level, EPNoSL experimented with the integration of the regional perspective to policy development on SL by organising a special event on educational reforms in the Baltic region and an additional PLA on the Latin Europe approach to school leadership policy implementation. National networking was primarily implemented with seminars and workshops and other dissemination activities undertaken by national partners, which addressed, at times, stakeholder groups active at the local level.

 

In terms of its policy impact, the second year of implementation marked the transition of EPNoSL towards a network that attempted to define policy directions and that primarily produced tools for policy makers and mediated knowledge for supporting policy development on school leadership for equity and learning. This transition was reflected in the Network’s knowledge production strategy. Reports/deliverables of the second period were designed to provide an evidence-based point of reference on school leadership, under the scope of supporting policy design and implementation, whereas all the research results were synthesised into a set of Briefing Notes on school leadership policy development, with the aim of providing expert information that can be readily useable by policymakers.

 

EPNoSL’s policy recommendations

Policy recommendations are articulated in the context of the development of a comprehensive framework on SL policy development. The EPNoSL Framework is designed to provide policymakers with the tools and analysis to meet challenges and identify areas for policy attention to support and enhance school leadership for equity and learning. Three policy goals are accordingly identified as most critical in all school systems across EU:

 

(a) The promotion of an enabling school leadership environment.

(b) The promotion of professional standards, evaluation and research on school leadership for equity and learning.

(c) School leadership capacity building for equity and learning.

 

For each of the policy goals identified above a number of policy action lines are proposed as the focus of policy intervention:

 

a) The establishment of an enabling school leadership environment is the foundation for SL policies that address effectively challenges of equity and learning performance:

 

  • An enabling school leadership environment is reflected in the room for flexibility and autonomy granted to school leaders for making important decisions that aim to identify and respond to concrete school needs in relation to equity and learning challenges.
  • The distribution of leadership roles and responsibilities in the context of autonomy empowers all school stakeholders to engage in collaborative initiatives that aim to combat inequalities and to improve learning performance.
  • Accountability mechanisms need to be enhanced to promote trust between school stakeholders, and more broadly to promote the legitimacy and transparency of school-based decisions.

 

b) Ensuring the quality of school leaders is critical since it can directly impact on improving the quality and on increasing equity in schools:

 

  • Policy makers can facilitate, support and contribute to the establishment and wide endorsement of professional standards for school leaders, on the basis of a framework and statements describing the qualities that school leaders are expected to demonstrate in order to achieve in their work.
  • School leadership policy development should consider establishing and updating research-based school leaders’ evaluation and assessment systems on the basis of a comprehensive evaluation framework.
  • Policy makers should consider ways to enhance the use of robust research data for improving school leadership practices.

 

c) Policy makers are advised to consider encouraging the development of school leadership education/ training and CPD programs and activities that:

 

  • Aim to develop school leaders' capacity for critical reflection, substantiated by evidence, on the conditions and factors influencing teaching, learning, and equity in their local, school context.
  • Promote a holistic approach of school leadership, incorporating the attainment of both equity and learning achievement goals in a balanced way.
  • Acknowledge the existing variety of perspectives, experiences, knowledge, values, ways of learning; in short, stimulate the recognition of difference.
  • Target whole school leadership capacity building, focusing on democratic, collaborative and innovative school management and pedagogic leadership methods.

 

C. Expected final results for the period and their impact and use and dissemination:

 

EPNoSL’s impact at the policy level has significantly grown during the second year of implementation. The Network has managed to engage in its activities over 15 Ministries of Education across Europe, EPNoSL members have created national networks on SL with the participation of a variety of stakeholders in 17 countries/regions, while the Networking of EPA with its National Chapters and the active engagement of the Teachers and Head Teachers Associations have produced impact on the promotion of priorities on/for SL from a stakeholder engagement point of view.

 

Besides this direct impact on policy development, EPNoSL strived simultaneously towards the development of a critical mass that is equipped with the knowledge base on SL to facilitate policy development beyond the Network’s life cycle. This critical mass has began to form: 2500 persons engaged in the Workshops/Seminars organised by national partners and professional associations. Over 500 stakeholders participated engaged in the PLAs (EC level), while over 3000 engaged directly in the Networking process and over 22.000 engaged in indirect networking.

 

EPNoSL remains committed to the task of extending and deepening networking activities amongst SL stakeholders (particularly extending the network to the regional, national, and local level and engaging a more balanced mixture of SL policy actors) and in the wider dissemination of its policy relevant research results. To this end, the EPNoSL’s Briefing Notes on School Leadership Policy Development are now also available in print format and will be distributed to all Ministries of Education and other policymaking institutions across Europe. A book proposal, titled “School Leadership Policy Development for Equity and Learning: Challenges and Innovative Approaches” based on the Briefing Notes, has now been accepted by the IGI Global publishing house and is scheduled for publication as a two-volume Handbook of Research in 2015.