Management and professional leadership of compulsory schools

Trausti Þorsteinsson, Amalía Björnsdóttir


In the last decades the Icelandic compulsory school system has become increasingly decentralized and the scope of the school principals‘ responsibilities has widened. Principals have the responsibility of organizing their schools‘ managerial structure and divide the workload between teachers and administrators. Their responsibilities include both management and professional leadership. Research points to a clear correlation between the professional leadership of principals and academic achievement.
The collective agreement from 2001 between the teachers union and local authorities contained clauses on the posts of vice principals and heads of departments and the number of people hired into those positions grew rapidly until 2008. The purpose of this study was to examine background and working conditions of principals and which tasks within management and professional leadership they choose to take on. Data was collected by questionnaire which was sent to principals of schools with more than 100 students. Compulsory school principals have considerable work experience and the vast majority of them have completed post-graduate education in management. The managerial structure of the schools seems quite vague and this has led to certain symptoms of chaos rather than professional bureaucracy. The role of assistant principals and head of departments are vaguely defined but the principals shoulder most of the management roles. The important professional leadership roles are often said to be the common responsibility of the administrative team. The results indicate that the intention of the collective agreement in 2001 to promote aca - demic leadership in schools has not been realized.


Principal; management; professional leadership.

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