Why School Leadership Matters

Recognising the power of leadership
in the education system

Imagine the school of your dreams.. what does it look like, what does it feel like to learn and play there? You must have some strong memories! Each one of us having gone through our own unique schooling experiences, reminisce about our schooling days, either as the good old days filled with fun, friends and learning or, as for some of us – the days ridden with anxiety and fear. Irrespective of the kind of schooling experience that has played out in our lives, it has most definitely shaped us into the kind of people that we are today. And this experience continues to be extremely important for all the students around the world.

When a child first enters the school, she not only enters a classroom, but also an environment that either facilitates or inhibits her mental, social and intellectual capacities. Needless to say, the efforts are always directed towards ensuring growth across all domains. But to make sure that a child experiences a universe that would prepare her to face the real world, a lot goes into it, besides effective delivery of lessons of the curriculum. For example, making sure that the school has basic facilities for security of children such as a school gate and separate toilets, making sure that the school starts and ends on time and that the children are appropriately engaged with lessons and play time throughout the day, making sure that resources such as books, uniform and mid-day meals are all available to the children in time, etc. These things might not cross our minds when we are thinking of excellent education, but if not done correctly, these can be the reasons why many students would not be able to study well. Creating an environment where all these factors are managed wholly in a way that supports learning, this is the responsibility of the school principal, rightly referred to as the School Leader.

“There are no good schools without good principals. It just doesn’t exist. And where you have good principals, great teachers come and they stay, they work hard, and they grow.” tweeted Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education.

School Leadership matters because:

1.It gives the student the environment that helps build attitudes, habits and life skills that can be transformational to the trajectory of her/his life irrespective of what background they come from.

2.It gives the teachers the appropriate processes and environment to teach students effectively along with the opportunities to work collaboratively in decision making for the school.

“When a school has high-quality working conditions like fair expectations and clear communication, teachers do better, even during challenging times.”

3. It provides the parent community with a persona to identify the school with. It helps build trust with the community about critical decisions related to the child’s learning and development.

4.  It gives the education system a window into the realities of running schools in the far and wide landscape of our country. It is only through school leaders that the higher ranks of the system get data and insights about the successes and challenges of various systemic initiatives.

At our work in ShikshaLokam, we have had the opportunity of interacting and working with school leaders (through our partners)  who have brought transformative changes in their schools. Mrs. Uma Jogad, the headmistress of Government Lower Primary School, Sompura, Dommasandra, a two-teacher school, had been working with really poor school infrastructure. The ceiling used to leak and the area outside the classrooms, was hardly any good for the students play, sit or learn. To improve the conditions of her school, Uma Ma’am took the matters in her hands, and mobilized the community and gram panchayat to support the renovations and infrastructure upgrade that the school needed. All of which culminated in to an upgraded playground space for the children as well. Another example of motivated school leadership emerged from the block-level micro-innovations festival “Pragati Hejje” where school leaders were rewarded for their best practices. One of the school leaders from Submangala cluster, Anekal,  used her time during the school closure at the first wave of Covid to revive the School Development Management Committee (SDMC), where members of the SDMC came together to create the school development plan and  prepare for school safety readiness for the students safety once the schools reopen.

There are many such school leaders because of whom our schools, located in the remotest corner of our country are working well and thriving. How many of such school leaders have you come across? Would you consider your own school principal to be one of such excellent school leaders.. do share it with us!

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