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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

School culture, change and leadership

As school culture is something which is "situationally unique" (Beare et al., 1989) and "is shaped by its history, context and people in it" and external influences (Stoll, 1999, p.33), the understanding of school culture with its complexity is very important at the time of change as Stoll notes: “...an essential part of school improvement is that the school 'assesses its current culture and works to develop positive cultural norms'” (ibid.). Expanding on changing school culture, Stoll also stresses the importance of leadership at the time of change and asserts that: “Changing schools is not just about changing curricula, teaching and learning strategies, assessment, structures, and roles and responsibilities” (ibid. p.47).  Fullan (2003) charges the leader with the responsibility for change and asserts that, “The leader’s job is to help change context – to introduce new elements into the situation that are bound to influence a behaviour for the better” (p.1).  Earley and Fletcher-Campbell (1989) note the importance of delegation at management level:
Delegation is essential not only in practical terms but as an expression of teamwork and partnership and as a process of staff development and training. (…) Delegation is necessary so that time can be found, for example, for reflection, forward planning, support, discussion…(p.108).

As the leadership style influences a particular organizational culture and a way of working, Hargreaves (2000) asserts that, “Collaboration is now widely proposed as an organizational solution to the problem of contemporary schooling” (p.17).       

Managing change is not an easy task and requires a detailed diagnosis of the current culture (Hargreaves, 1999) and school leaders' clear vision for the future in order to change values, attitudes and beliefs within an organization (Bear et al.1992; Leithwood et al.1999).

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