Successful Principal Leadership: : Prerequisites, Processes and Outcomes
Sammanfattning: This thesis' main theme is successful principal leadership in secondary schools within the Swedish education system. Successful principal leadership is examined from three perspectives: What are the processes of a successful principal? Do the leadership processes relate to successful academic and social outcomes of schools? What are the prerequisites for successful principal leadership? The Frame Factor Model and the three concepts of prerequisites, processes and outcomes constitute an overarching framework. The prerequisites are categorized as internal prerequisites (the particular characteristics of individual principals) and external prerequisites operating within the Swedish educational environment. The successful principal processes are viewed as pedagogical leadership processes, on one hand as providing prerequisites for teaching and learning and, on the other hand as leading the core processes of teaching and learning. The definitions build on the empirical data, on the Swedish national curriculum and demands for pedagogical leadership, and on international findings on what successful principals do. The outcomes of successful principal leadership are here defined as the academic and the social outcomes of schools. The research undertaken is part of the research project 'Structure, Culture, Leadership - Prerequisites for Successful Schools?' The empirical data for this thesis are gathered in twenty-six Swedish secondary schools whereof five are regarded successful schools based on both academic and social outcomes. The findings, reported on in four articles, derive from interviews and questionnaires to principals and teachers. The principals in the main identify prerequisites of importance that are within their own realm of influence, such as themselves, teachers and school district level. They consider a limited area of responsibility and support from district level specialists as providing possibilities for their success. The principals accept the national governance of schools and principals via the national curriculum. The principals in the five successful schools however take a higher degree of responsibility for setting direction towards national goals, for processes inside schools and for school outcomes than do principals in less successful schools.They as pedagogical leaders attend to a higher degree both to providing prerequisites for teaching and learning and to leading the core processes of teaching and learning than do principals in less successful schools. In schools with a successful implementation of social goals, which shows as successful social outcomes, the principals, according to teachers, overall take responsibility for their national objectives and obligations to a higher degree than principals in schools with a less successful implementation of social goals. The implementation of social goals is of importance not only from an outcome perspective but also from a process perspective. It requires collaborative interpretation which can promote principal-staff professional relations and ultimately student learning. The identified overall differences between principals' leadership processes and processes in the twenty-six schools raise questions around consequences for equivalence in education.
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