Taking into consideration the aim of the Erasmus+ project HEAD: Empowering School Principals for Inclusive School Culture to address the professionalization of school principals in primary and secondary schools of Croatia and North Macedonia focusing on inclusive education, the goal of this policy paper is to explore:
What is the potential of principals in Croatia and North Macedonia to participate in the education policy-making process? And Which factors do principals in Croatia and North Macedonia recognize as those that influence their participation in the policy-making process? This policy paper should be understood in the context of the other outputs and activities of the Empowering School Principals for Inclusive School Culture project and read accordingly. As such it is intended for educational professionals, local government, and other policy-makers wishing to contribute to the development of school principals' professionalization and increase the participation of school principals in the policy-making process.
The publication describes the main findings of the impact study conducted within the project. The Curriculum Framework was piloted in Croatia and North Macedonia, through a program that included five 2-day training modules. In this report, a comparison of data from the pre-test and post-test evaluation will be used to describe the effectiveness of the developed curricular framework and programs and provide recommendations for methods that can systematically support inclusive school cultures.
You can download it from here in English, Croatian, Macedonian and Albanian
The aim of this Curriculum Framework is to provide institutions and organisations that provide and are responsible for the continuous professional
development of school leadership with the tool that supports them in creating programmes/modules/trainings for strengthening an inclusive school culture.
The Curriculum Framework was designed to respond to well-known obstacles school leaders face while trying to create an inclusive culture in their schools An inclusive school culture ensures academic and socio-emotional growth of all students, first and foremost of marginalised students: those with different cultural backgrounds, experiences and ways of working, age, sexual orientation or gender, physical abilities, etc.
You can download it from here in English, Croatian, Macedonian and Albanian
This document aims to provide recommendations and steps that would empower school principals to create an inclusive school culture in the Republic of North Macedonia. The findings, opinions, ideas and suggestions derived from the activities within the HEAD project (such as, Policy Lab, Impact study, and piloting the professional development program ) were used as a base for developing this policy roadmap.
You can download it from here in English, Macedonian and Albanian
This policy document was created with the purpose of providing recommendations and possible activities for strengthening school leadership in the direction of creating an inclusive school culture in the Republic of Croatia. The findings, opinions, ideas and suggestions derived from the activities within the HEAD project (Consultation with the policy coalitions, Policy Lab, Impact study, and piloting the professional development program ) were used as a base for developing this policy roadmap.
The animation video is a tool to promote school leadership for equity. It was created based on the Empowering School Leaders for Developing Inclusive School Cultures - Curriculum Framework developed following the pilot implementation of the program with 80 school principals in Croatia and North Macedonia and the impact study. The project “HEAD: Empowering School Principals for Inclusive School Culture” was co-funded by the EU ERASMUS + program and the Office of cooperation with NGOs Republic of Croatia.
It is available in Albanian, Croatian, English and Macedonian!
Lead for Equity - English version
Lead for Equity - in Albanian
Lead for Equity - in Croatian
Lead for Equity - in Macedonian
The implementation of the training - HEAD Empowering school principals for inclusive school cultures has been finalized in Croatia and North Macedonia and involved about 60 school principals from primary and secondary schools.
School principals are recognized as crucial factor in the implementation of inclusive policy and establishment of inclusive school culture and the program starts from the premise that the leadership can be developed and build consciously requiring reflection and adequate professional development. This premise aims to replace the misconcept of ‘born leaders’, charismatic and omni present.
Three school principals from North Macedonia shared their feedback about the program in the video below. They recognize the relevance of personal and professional development of school principals to implement inclusive policies, motivate teachers, establish a climate of cooperation. The program, as highlighted by participants, provided theoretical upgrade about the notions of leadership, democratic decision-making, inclusive participation.
The HEAD project policy dimension is built on the premises that efficient policy solutions are the combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches. The participation of experts in the policy making is crucial for the quality and the legitimacy of the process and results.
At the beginning of the HEAD project, partners from Croatia and North Macedonia invited academics, representatives of state institutions, experienced school principals, representatives of civil society organizations (CSO) to join the policy coalition. Building trustworthy relationship with representatives of policy coalitions will contribute to creating a strong advocacy group for the establishment of professional development for school principals in the area of inclusion.Read more →
The last module of professional development program for school principals on inclusion has been completed in Croatia! 15 primary school principals, from Croatia, completed the five-module program for inclusive school culture designed within HEAD project.
The program was implemented by The Open Academy Step by Step.
The last module was focused on ideas or concepts participants perceived differently following the completion of the program, ideas or concepts they found to be more complex or challenging, and the ones that are still unclear and need to be better explained or explored. Moreover, the participants had the opportunity to present their plans and activities for their schools that will enhance inclusive school culture, since they have been part of this program.
Although they work in diverse contexts and have different experiences, they do share the commitment to work towards more inclusive education system!
Participants appreciated the training methods based on peer support, sharing experiences, reflections under the expert guidance of educators Sanja Brajković and Vlatka Domović.
In the evaluation one of the participants highlighted:
"Thank you very much (…) I was honoured to participate in this education. I believe that most principals in Croatia need this support. I truly recommend the organization of similar education programs. Your expertise, professionalism, understanding and enthusiasm inspired us all “
After the completion of the program in Croatia and North Macedonia for primary and secondary school principals, the impact of the project will be measured by an impact study that will show the effectiveness of the intervention coordinated by ERI Slovenia.
Inclusive culture starts from the premise that everyone in the school- students, educators, administrators, support staff and parents – feels that they belong, should reach their potential, and can contribute to school life.
There is a common misconception that (school) leaders are born into it. Perhaps, this misconception has brought us to the situation that in some countries in Europe, professional development of school principals has been neglected or is non-existent, though school leaders play a significant role in the creation of positive and inclusive school cultures, for student achievement. School leadership is second only to classroom instruction among all school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school.
Watch the short video presenting the main project premises and activites and share it among your colleagues.
It is available in Albanian, Croatian, English and Macedonian!
The Education Reserach Institute, HEAD project partner from Slovenia to inform the professional program fro school principals conducted needs study that included 273 principals (187 from the Republic of North Macedonia and 86 from Croatia).
The newly developed questionnaire was used to gather the data, and it covered four sets of topics: (1) demographics, (2) previous professional development activity of principals in the area of inclusive school culture, (3) professional development characteristics that had the greatest positive impact on principals’ school leadership practices in the last 12 months and (4) principals’ professional development needs in the area of inclusive school culture (based on the Inclusion Index; Booth & Ainscow, 2002).
The results showed that there are no statistically significant differences in principals’ overall needs for professional development in the area of creating inclusive school culture between the countries, nor according to educational level, which means that principals from both countries can undergo the same professional development programme. More specifically, principals reported a high need for professional development in the areas of supporting collaboration with other stakeholders connected to school, preparing school staff to respond to students’ diversity, supporting the active participation of parents in school life and supporting inclusive student learning experience.
Full publication is available here.
An infographic (Croatian language only) is also available here.
The Syllabus HEAD - Empowering school principals for inclusive school cultures provides guidelines for the implementation of 5 modules program for school principals aiming to support them in establishing inclusive school culture. Syllabus defines the leadership approach to inclusive education in schools as building the capacity to deal with ‘diversity” concerning the background of the children; their learning abilities and styles; other varieties in the school population.
The interest of principles in participating is higher than expected, showing the relevance of the topic for education system and in particular for the school principals. In total 71 school principals are involved in the PD program.
The modules implementation started both in Croatia and North Macedonia and the reports from modules show highly appreciation from participants for the support, knowledge acquired and insights about their role in establishing inclusive school culture. The word cloud hereby summarizes the mid-term evaluation conducted by Open academy Step by Step with school principals at the 3rd modules of the the program HEAD - Empowering school principals for inclusive school cultures.
How our identity influence our attitude to diversity? How to avoid tokenism aiming to inclusion? How to transform targeted policies and practices in universal ones aiming to embed inclusion in our schools? These were the key questions discussed with the Croatian primary schools principals!
The baseline study conducted with principals (available soon) confirms the results of the needs study and shows how the areas in which school principals need more support are: democratic and inclusive creation of school policy; positive relationship with parents; support to teachers’ professional development in the area of inclusive education; students’ support in expressing diversity. The baseline study has involved 94 principals; 3078 teachers and 2983 students.
For any questions regarding the implementation, do not hesitate to contact NEPC or project partners, the full list of contacts is available here.
To benefit from diverse international experiences and practices NSO-CNA and NSLE, HEAD partners from Slovenia and The Netherlands produced a paper illustrating their national educational context, approaches and methods on school leadership training. To do any relevant ‘knowledge transfer’ of Netherlands and Slovenian practices, we first must immerse ourselves in the way School leadership training originated and is organized in our country’s educational systems. This situational analysis and contingency approach may support our partners in Croatia and North-Macedonia in making their own trade-offs in the design and development of adequate training in their countries tailored to their own educational contexts, organisational roles and positions of school leaders, and professional standards and associations. The paper introduces the Netherlands practice followed by the Slovenian experiences on school leadership training, compares and contrasts them and finally provide recommendations for Croatian and North-Macedonian partners regarding the professional development of their school leaders and its training.
The analysis provides the Framework for assessment of schoolleader training development (NSO-CNA & NSLE) that can be used by project partners and beyond to identify in which areas the system is lacking adequate policy and consequently propose the policy reforms necessary in the system.
The full paper is available here.
NSO-CNA and NSLE, HEAD partners from Slovenia and The Netherlands, have decennial experience experience in providing professional development for school principals, in the conversation with NEPC available HERE share the main features of their systems!