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A systemic perspective on school reform: Principals' and chief education officers' perspectives on school development

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Purpose ‐ This study aims to gain better understanding of the perceptions comprehensive school principals and chief education officers have about the implementation of school reform and the means they use to facilitate the development of such. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This research project was carried out using a systemic design research approach. Open-ended questionnaires provided the data for the study and these were completed by educational leaders operating in local school districts. Findings ‐ The results demonstrated that pedagogy was emphasized most often as the core of school reform by principals but chief education officers considered technical and financial factors more often as the critical core of educational reform. Nevertheless, both groups had quite similar ideas on how to promote school development. Research limitations/implications ‐ The findings reflect the Finnish educational system and capture only two levels of leadership within the system. Future research ought to focus on studying school reforms within different school systems as a complex of correlated events, processes, strategies, interactions and qualities. Practical implications ‐ To be able to achieve a successful and sustainable school reform more attention must be devoted to creating and activating collaborative learning environments, not only for pupils and teachers, but also for educational leaders at all levels of school administration. Originality/value ‐ The study adds to an understanding of the often-mentioned gap or conflict in perceptions and beliefs between different actors in an educational system.
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Keywords: Education; Educational innovation; Finland; Leadership; Schools

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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