Making a Difference in Challenging Urban Schools: Successful Principals

Aug. 30, 2009

Source: European Educational Research Journal, Volume 8 Number 3 (2009), pages 387-396.

This paper reports upon findings from four multiple-perspective case studies of successful principals in challenging urban contexts.

Each principal was described as making a significant difference to the quality of school education. The findings are obtained from the Polish part of the ‘Leading Schools Successfully in Challenging Urban Contexts’: Strategies For Improvement’ project.

The research design consisted of two overlapping phases:
the first was a literature review to ascertain ‘what is known’ about the nature and effects of leadership in challenging urban contexts;

the second involved a case-study approach, collecting data from 36 schools to explore the leadership strategies that are used by successful principals of schools that face challenging urban contexts.

The analysis of the cases identified that there were several interconnected strategies that are not only important, but essential for leadership success in these schools. They are related to setting the directions, developing people, redesigning the organisation and changing the culture of the school. Each of them encompasses more specific competencies, attitudes and considerations.

Updated: Jan. 12, 2010