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Journal cover: Journal of Educational Administration

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Online from: 1963

Subject Area: Education

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Sustained successful school leadership in Denmark

Document Information:
Title:Sustained successful school leadership in Denmark
Author(s):Lejf Moos, (Danish School of Education, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark), Klaus Kasper Kofod, (Danish School of Education, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark)
Citation:Lejf Moos, Klaus Kasper Kofod, (2009) "Sustained successful school leadership in Denmark", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 47 Iss: 6, pp.709 - 718
Keywords:Communication, Denmark, Education, Leadership, Team working, Trust
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/09578230910993096 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to revisit three successful schools to see how the principals and the schools had sustained success over a period of five years.

Design/methodology/approach – A case study research design was used building on the 2005 design. This time the principals were interviewed.

Findings – The study is a case study over five years. In the first round of visits to schools four-to-five years ago in the ISSPP context, it was found that the modernization of Danish society was beginning to show new forms in the every day life and discourses of schools. It could be seen that the links between the state, local authorities and schools were changing. Some were being loosened and some were beginning to be tightened. Returning to three schools in 2008, it was found that the tightening of links had accelerated, so the new governance of schools through accountability, contracts and networks was at this stage implemented with a number of effects in schools and in school leadership. While rather big differences were seen between the schools at the first visit with respect to relations and leading, the differences seem to have diminished over the past four-to-fast years. Principals then considered it a major responsibility to act proactively in “setting and negotiating” the direction of the school. Now they are more inclined to name those activities as “translations” of external expectations to staff in a more reactive way because the expectations have been made more explicit and detailed. The political trend towards narrowing the focus of schooling seems to be successful in terms of test results. All three schools perform better now than previously in the national tests.

Practical implications – The challenge to the principals and teachers is to sustain this development and at the same time take care of the comprehensive vision of “Democratic Bildung”. And the challenge to principals is to find ways of communicating with teachers and influencing teachers that are legitimate and effective.

Originality/value – The paper adds knowledge to the literature on sustaining school success and to the literature on relations between external policies and internal practices.

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