The purpose of this paper is to analyse the superintendent position, its relation to the local political system and the function as superior of principals in the school…
The purpose of this paper is to analyse the superintendent position, its relation to the local political system and the function as superior of principals in the school district in order to illuminate important district-level conditions for student learning. Influences from historical legacies and policy cultures are investigated by means of cross-country case analyses.
This paper is based on data from national surveys of superintendent leadership in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.
A key point is the observation of a mix-mode system of hard and soft governance. Municipalities, schools, teachers and pupils are – in different degrees across the Nordic countries – subjected to external evaluation and assessment by central control agencies, where the streams of reports, assessments and performance data are assembled. However, shifts in the governance systems are only modestly reflected in the self-reports on the superintendents’ role. Overall, superintendents in the cases express a self-preferred leadership style as professional learning facilitators who focus on pupil orientation, which positions the superintendent in “crossfires” between conflicting stakeholder demands.
The paper reinforces the importance of superintendent leadership in local school governance. It underscores the importance that superintendents facilitate learning conditions for school leaders, teachers and students, which we see as a promising path for further research.
The paper provides empirical evidence regarding superintendent leadership situated in local social and political contexts within the Nordic countries. The cross-country analysis illuminates how path-pendent historical legacies mediate current reform trends.
– The purpose of this paper is to describe a symbolic-interpretative research on the leadership culture and its subcultures in one unified comprehensive school in Finland.
The purpose of this paper is to describe a symbolic-interpretative research on the leadership culture and its subcultures in one unified comprehensive school in Finland.
The research is a phenomenological, qualitative case study. Its methodology is based on triangulation.
The leadership culture of the unified comprehensive school studied in the present research seemed to be based on equality, communality, appreciation, flow of information and humor. Besides examining the general leadership culture of the school, an attempt was made to study the possible subcultures of the school by examining the six subject groups into which the teachers were divided in the school on the basis of the teachers’ education and tasks. These subject groups formed the subgroups of the research. If a subgroup's interpretation of the leadership culture of the school differed significantly from those of the other subgroups, the subgroup was considered to have a subculture of its own. Only one such subculture was found, that of the mathematic teachers. It, too, although being clearly a subculture of its own, included several common features with the main leadership culture of the unified comprehensive school.
The study is the first one in Finnish schools where leadership culture is conceived as a constantly reforming outcome of the meaning and interpretation processes which form themselves through the social structures of the school in connection to the leadership actions at the school.