Developing School Leaders: An international perspective
|Editor(s)||Mark Brundrett, Megan Crawford|
Ms Linda Jones
|Review published||19 January 2009|
Let me come clean. I am neither head teacher nor member of the school leadership community of practice. Still I hope this review resonates with that intended audience and those, like me, who believe school leader discourses of today are the Professional Education discussions of tomorrow. Reading through a school leadership or professional development lens, this book offers a balanced, historical account of the global and glocalised contexts shaping educational management systems for the future.
More than a series of descriptive accounts or a single narrative this publication evoked images of the important art form of pantomime. The characters and settings slowly unfold and the editors proved to be effective stage managers of an engaging tale of school leadership strategies. The international storyline was interspersed with examples of skilful juggling and some magical tales. The aspirational school head is undoubtedly the hero with the role of the state, and their ministries as the goodies or baddies. However when the curtain falls even the latter can be understood in relation to the different contexts of historical and economic factors that shaped their roles.
The eleven chapters have been loosely scripted in response to a series of conceptual and logistical challenges clearly outlined in the introductory chapter (e.g. whether to locate the learning in the workplace, how to research and situate school leadership responses). The academic and practical accounts, penned by a range of authors from widely diverse geographical and cultural contexts, are balanced throughout and provide a coherent read.
The leadership development programme in Greece is presented as rather disappointing as on-site managers have limited strategic power or space for innovation. Head teacher receive no compulsory training prior to their appointment but there are signs of cautious social and political changes seeking to avoid “blind adoption of foreign models” (p53). By comparison in Post communist Czech Republic head teachers’ powers have at times been quite extensive, almost autocratic. But as they join the European Union Educational leadership programmes are developing to encompass “planning, leadership, motivation and teamwork as well”.
Tim Goddard provides a fascinating “outsiders” account of educational leadership in Kosovo situated in the pre and post war Balkan region, concluding
“Any programme of educational leadership development must provide not only the knowledge base required for one to be an effective administrator but also techniques and strategies required to implement that knowledge.”
Chapter 7 transports us to Israel with their concern for Praxis. In Chapter 8 Walker and Dimmock offer a practical report of preparing leaders in Hong Kong. By Chapters 9 and 10 we are learning of the successes of the “Only Connect” agenda in Australia and the voluntary, non-assessed induction programme in New Zealand.
There are many heroes who have dared to be innovative and share their trials and successes but unlike pantomime there is no simple happy-ever-after ending. As readers we are left hopeful, applauding this comprehensive account and better informed about school leadership strategies, which have been tried and tested in the UK and elsewhere. Equipped with this knowledge and shared experiences we are probably better able to reach conclusions and create magic on our own educational stage.
This book will find itself on many school leadership and comparative education reading lists.