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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

CLASS - Comparisons of Leadership Autonomy in School districts and Schools

Alternative title: CLASS - Utdanningslederes autonomi i kommuner og skoler i tre land

Awarded: NOK 11.8 mill.

CLASS is a comparative study where we combine varied research methods to study education leaders' autonomy in municipalities and schools in Norway, Sweden and Germany from the 1990s until today. The study will develop new knowledge about what can be considered as an appropriate balance between national and local governance and autonomy in educational leadership. Education today is characterized by a high degree of complexity involving substantial numbers of students, parents, teachers and stakeholder groups. Leaders must therefore deal with a range of interests and considerations in addition to different types of national and local governance, and influences from many different groups. In this research project, we take a closer look at newer forms of management with high expectations of management competence and relational capacity in different education systems characterized by decentralization (Norway), centralization (Germany) and re-centralization (Sweden). Important focus points for investigations are education leaders´ autonomy in their work with assessment, inclusion and pandemic crisis in long-term and short-term perspectives.

CLASS is a comparative mixed methods study focusing on the development of professional autonomy of education leaders in schools and districts in Norway, Sweden and Germany from the 1990s until today. The purpose of the study is to develop new knowledge about the suitable balance between national and local governance and autonomy in education leadership. The primary objective is to investigate the autonomy of education leaders in their everyday work framed by national governance and high stakes policy issues. The study will be conducted by looking at new ways of governance universally characterised by high expectations of management skills and relational capacity under varied degrees of decentralisation, centralisation and recentralisation. Leadership autonomy aspects will be studied by zooming in on assessment, inclusion and pandemic crises as three high-stakes government required implementation issues in education. The scope and timing of CLASS give a unique opportunity to study the relationship between autonomy and governance under varied circumstances and dimensions of time, such as long term (inclusion), cyclic (assessment) and acute (pandemic crisis). By comparing different solutions for similar issues, the study investigates how contextual factors impact the emergence of and relations between professional autonomy and organisational structures. Education today is characterised by a high degree of management complexity in terms of being a ‘mass education project’ involving large numbers of students, parents, teachers and stakeholder groups. This complexity is approached by investigating the complementary professional and organisational structures that often place high expectations and responsibilities on educational leaders. The project draws on a well-developed methodological toolbox and robust contextual knowledge, cultural and language proficiency and empirical studies conducted by a highly experienced team of researchers

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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren