What we have succeeded in so far
We entered the previous period with two main objectives:
● to carry out a questionnaire survey in schools in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria and to evaluate it;
● to design a draft and start producing the first intellectual output of the project, namely the Leadership Academy handbook.
Leadership Academy Handbook
The Leadership Academy Handbook is a methodological guide for principals and school leaders in the context of “VUCA” (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), focusing on topics such as: effective leadership styles, crisis management, resilience, change management, delegation, motivation, communication, etc. It is currently being validated with a selection of 30 school principals in three countries. Once the feedback is recorded, the material will be finalised.
The handbook itself is divided into 4 thematic modules, which include practical activities, space for self-reflection and offer a more detailed view on particular topics.
1. MODULE 1 – School Principal in the Role of a Leader mainly deals with the characteristics of a leader and defines the role of a school principal as a leader, manager and expert. It describes the requirements for leaders in today’s VUCA world. This module defines the specific features of a leader – the school principal and their required competencies. It focuses on leadership styles with a focus on participative and situational leadership style.
2. MODULE 2 – Leading with Clarity and Motivation describes the vision, mission and values of the school, their key principles that the leader stands for. It deals with personal motivation for this work and with creating the key principles of the school. The second module answers questions about how to manage a school using goals and how to set goals that are clear and graspable; how to manage people using goal setting and quality performance standards. It deals with personal motivation and how a leader can make use of it. It highlights the quality of internal communication as one of a leader’s key tools.
3. MODULE 3 – Division of work and co-creation of solutions describes the stages of leading a team towards performance and the principles of forming a new team. It explains the difference between assigning tasks and delegating, and at the same time it describes how to organize one’s personal tasks and select from among them the ones suitable for delegation. Module 3 provides characteristics of individual forms of decision making in participative leadership and ways of expressing opinion and providing feedback. It offers solutions how to deal with sensitive situations.
4. MODULE 4 – Change outlines 8 steps on how to lead the process of change. It recommends ways to determine the urgency for transformation and to manage resistance to change or the ways to build a change coalition and work with individuals and groups related to change. It accentuates the necessity of creating a communication plan for the change process. This module suggests how to identify and use quick wins and tools for analysis, i.e. what kind of change we need and what change is sustainable at the moment.
Initial questionnaire survey assessing the current state of school management in terms of competencies of school principals
In order to decide how to design the content of the material for school principals and leaders, it was important to at least get a glimpse of the needs of the target group in practice. For this reason, we have developed an initial questionnaire for school principals, which will serve to obtain a current picture of school management and their needs. Moreover, it will equally serve as a basis for assessing the progress of the school principals who will participate in the testing of the outcomes of the Leadership Academy project.
The survey was carried out only with a limited number of principals from the partner schools involved in the project in each country, i.e. from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Slovakia. Although we cannot generalise the results, they provided us with very important information. The most important conclusion we can draw from the survey is the confirmation that the whole implementation of the project is meaningful, responds to the needs of practice, and targets an area where school principals need support. The survey has shown that there are many topics and areas in school management that principals consider very important and worthy of attention in our project. Conversely, the extent of knowledge and experience that principals possess may become relevant as a basis for sharing good practices in subsequent project outcomes. We are very pleased that this questionnaire survey has confirmed our assumptions and validated our belief that we are heading in the right direction.
We would like to carry out the questionnaire survey again in the future, namely at the end of the project, in order to assess the contribution of the project and progress of the school principals who took part in our project and used all the outputs throughout the development of project outcomes.
Web and Facebook pages of the project
Our website and Facebook pages are fully functional and continuously updated. We are pleased to see that the number of followers is growing.
What is being prepared
– incorporating comments from school principals and preparing the final version of the Leadership Academy Handbook (February-March 2023),
– online meeting of partners involved in the preparation of the final version of the handbook aimed at linking the content of the handbook with the functionalities of the platform (March 2023),
– 2nd meeting of project partners 29-30 March 2023 in Prague – will focus on the presentation of the final version of the first intellectual outcome of the project – Leadership Academy handbook. In addition to the presentation of the handbook, we will jointly plan the implementation of the development and testing of the second intellectual outcome Leadership Academy – online platform, taking into account the compatibility with the other outputs.
A word in conclusion
We are very pleased to see the growing interest in the project, which is spreading not only among school principals, but also among their vice-principals. We believe and are convinced of the meaningfulness of the project, which has the potential to help school principals and move them to a higher level of managerial competence. At the same time, a large network of skilled school principals can generate a wealth of experiences and examples of good practice, which, under the competent guidance of the facilitators, will take the form of meaningful and usable means of development.