Leadership of the management team
The leadership role exercised by management teams, both in organisational and instructional tasks, is considered to be a key aspect in fostering school and educational quality. Numerous studies confirm this assertion and emphasise the direct association between an appropriate leadership style and school effectiveness. In this regard, the importance attached by the head teacher and management team to using a democratic and participative management style in the school should be highlighted.
The evidence identified in this study appears to bear this out, showing that, in effective schools, management teams exercise a style of leadership that is orientated towards clear goals, dialogue, support and the assumption of shared responsibilities:
- Management teams of effective schools direct their decisions towards the goals and curricular profile of the school. They exercise moderate leadership in relation to educational issues and support the initiatives of the teaching staff without needing to coordinate or direct them.
- Effective schools explicitly define their goals and curricular profile, and the entire educational community shares them and is orientated towards their achievement.
- While management teams of less effective schools on ocassions exert excessive control in their leadership tasks on curricular and teaching-learning processes, or on professional development, on others, they ignore these issues.
- Teachers in effective schools generally consider that their management teams are exercising appropriate leadership and are satisfied with their work.
Another of the fundamental roles of management teams is institutional assessment, which needs to have the active participation of different educational stakeholders. In this respect, it is necessary to have formal and carefully planned strategies that provide information aimed exclusively at improvement. The results obtained in this project point to the following key issues:
- Assessment activities led by the school have a crucial impact on effectiveness, especially with regard to the establishment of common standards of assessment. Schools that do not use instruments for the academic assessment of pupils and fail to monitor the assessment process in order to orientate it towards improvement are associated with low effectiveness.
- Effective schools assessment towards obtaining formal information about the capabilities and characteristics of pupils and the educational work of teaching staff, and use standardized tests to guide decision-making
- Occasional or regular use of standardised tests to assess the performance of pupils, guide decision-making or orientate parents is more common in effective schools.
- Carrying out assessment actions as monitoring and control measures (external assessment, teacher observation, strict control of teacher training, etc.) without involving the various stakeholders in the process is more associated with low effectiveness.
The last aspect concerning management teams that stood out in the results obtained from this work tend to relate to school autonomy. Experts do not appear to agree on the advantages or disadvantages of school autonomy, and whether it is better or worse for effectiveness to promote schools with greater autonomy. Our results are equally inconclusive and suggest that systems with greater or lesser autonomy can be effective, with highly autonomous settings being particularly notable for their shared assumption of responsibilities among all educational stakeholders:
- Sole responsibility by the head teacher or management team for organising teachers, pupils, resources and school budget, or issues related to the curriculum, is associated with low effectiveness. An effective management style is characterised by assuming shared responsibilities and encouraging the participation of other educational stakeholders in decision-making.
- Teachers in effective schools highlight the importance of shared decision-making and the establishment of shared goals.
- In effective schools, teachers enjoy greater autonomy in the choice of curricular subjects offered by the school.
- In effective schools, management teams are more autonomous in establishing the school’s general discipline criteria.