School leadership for equity and learning and the question of school autonomy

Pavlos Hatzopoulos, Andreas Kollias, Kathy Kikis-Papadakis


The article draws from the work conducted in the context of the European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNoSL). In particular, it is based on an in-depth review of school leadership policies in 21 European countries and the discourse that is taking place in EPNoSL’s webinars, national workshops and peer learning activities organised in several EU countries with the participation of a variety of school leadership stakeholders (including policy makers at European, national, and local levels, school leaders, teachers and other professionals, academics, researchers, parents and students). EPNoSL is a network of 42 European institutions that aims at improving policy on, and practice in, school leadership in Europe. The article discusses the question of school autonomy in the context of school leadership policy development in Europe. School autonomy is considered as a critical precondition for the development of comprehensive school leadership policies. Based on the comprehensive framework of school leadership policy development that has been developed in the context of this project, the article undertakes two main tasks. Firstly, it attempts to show that instead of searching for universal solutions on the question of school autonomy, it is important to reflect on context-specific policies on autonomy that aim at the attainment of concrete learning and equity goals. Secondly, it specifies seven general directions for policies on school autonomy that are adaptive to the divergent experiences of European education systems.


school leadership, school autonomy

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