A Study to Compare School Heads in Different Regions
The Centre for Developing Leadership in Education at the HSE Institute of Education is starting a project to study school heads in 16 Russian regions to make recommendations for a professional development and training programme. The project will become part of the international comparative research on school heads, the Asia Leadership Project, which HSE signed up to a year ago at a conference in Malaysia.
Why Does it Matter?
Professionals in the field have been talking for a long time now about how the head of a school is the key figure in the development of general education and the driving force behind school reforms.
‘Nowadays, school heads are burdened with a lot of managerial tasks. In the old Soviet times, the head took orders from the local education authority which proscribed school life down to the smallest details, but now he or she has a lot more freedom, and with it, responsibility. They need managerial and organisational skills which are becoming more important every day,’ says Viktor Bolotov, Academic Supervisor at the Centre of Education Quality Monitoring.
A Big Gap
School heads are still terra incognita for education researchers. Although it’s long been an area of interest, no one has conducted large scale studies or comparisons in different regions. Academic articles have, as a rule been based on statistics from individual regions and attempts to compare Russian and non-Russian head teachers’ experience.
School heads today are mainly occupied with financial and administrative issues. Generally they don’t have basic management training and only improve their qualifications in that area once they are in the job. But in recent years a new type of headmaster/mistress has emerged around the world who works actively with their team of teachers to improve education results in their schools.
At the moment, it is rare to meet one of these new types in a Russian school.
How Will the Research be Conducted?
The plan in the first half of 2015 is to send a questionnaire to school heads in 16 regions selected to represent the full range of the RF. Heads of urban and rural, large and small schools will be surveyed. The researchers will try to establish how heads achieve good results, what they do in their everyday running of the school that makes a difference.
The International Part
The survey of Russian headmistresses and headmasters will become part of the broad international Asia Leadership Project which is looking at leadership in education and the development of school managers in countries in the Asia-Pacific region. IOE UL Professor Dr Alma Harris who is Visiting Professor at the Institute of Education at HSE is in charge of it.
As the international project is not rigid, each country chooses how it will work so the results can be brought together and analysed later. The object of research is the system of professional development for school heads in Asian countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia), Australia and Russia, and also the work of heads of schools with a teaching collective, the aim of which is to improve children’s educational qualifications.
When a classroom is well-organized, children not only feel comfortable, but also learn more effectively. Ways to create such a space were discussed at the research seminar ‘Design of educational spaces’, which was held at the Center of Leadership Development in Education at HSE’s Institute of Education on July 12-13.
of Russian families do not have the opportunity to choose which school their children attend. In recent years, this situation has worsened; five years ago, only 51% of families did not have a choice. Residents of villages, people with low income and people whose children perform poorly in schools are most often deprived of alternatives.