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Heads Using Professional Learning Communities
Start date: Oct 1, 2016, End date: Aug 31, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The project Heads UP “Headmasters Using Professional Learning Communities” invents and implements a model for leadership development in order to support school leaders (heads/vice heads) to lead their teachers better into school improvement and necessary teaching development. By setting up Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) , which are proven to be an effective method for advanced training, the project supports school leaders to increase their competencies on leading in special learning communities with leadership colleagues. Thus PLCs for heads are run for the first time.In the face of the challenge of successful teaching of children with diverse needs in all countries (heterogeneous classes, inclusive education, integration of refugee children etc.), an effort on teaching development has imperatively to be taken. By supporting school leaders to raise their leadership skills they can manage better to lead their teachers into improving and to take on those teaching challenges more successfully.The method of PLCs provides a professional learning environment, in which all participants mutually gain further experience and knowledge because they oblige into a cooperative group and give each other support in developing according to individual needs.Since working in a PLC allows each member to follow different targets and get support for their own target, PLCs have the potential to combine individual needs with collective learning and thus serve as diversity oriented method. It takes into consideration special backgrounds and working circumstances of the members and promotes equal opportunities for diverse interests. Through this innovation a long term change towards more engaged professional learning in schools in order to enhance the competencies of heads and teachers will ultimately provide better learning options for the diverse pupils.The model of the project is called PLC-"Doubledecker" (like a biplane) because it joins school leaders into PLCs and encourages them to build up likewise learning communities for teachers. Initial point is the data proved knowledge that school leaders can stimulate teachers’ learning and by that have an impact on pupils’ achievements. Despite the obvious benefits of PLCs, they have not yet become common at European universities and schools. And although leadership development has been broadly discussed on an international perspective, leadership training is only implemented nationally. The project overcomes that gap and combines national and international activities for professional development and opens up a transnational learning environment. In the HeadsUp project teacher educators, leadership trainers, school authorities, heads and researchers cooperate in order to offer a transnational perspective and a broader range of experience in good practice of leading and teaching diversity. The project builds up a school based transnational network for leadership and school improvement. In each of the six partner countries PLCs of heads will be set up and their progress will be supported by learning options distributed by alearning platform, conferences, concelling in an innovative way. In turn, the heads will implement PLCs for teachers in their schools and thereby provide better teaching and learning opportunities for the pupils.On the national and international level, the project provides a new model and deepens the awareness of professional development in schools. Its evaluation not only contributes to the exchange of practical experience but also to the international scientific debate on leadership development and to a data-based councelling of regional and upper authorities and of policy makers. It also provides a model that can be adapted to other profit or non-profit organisations. On the local and regional level, the project will stimulate better teaching and classroom management as a result of better leadership. For the universities it will provide experience from which additions to the curriculum in higher teacher education can be deduced and taken on in classes on teaching professionalism. The project adds significantly to the development of teacher education, which is a main task of the European Union and follows the European request on innovation for cooperative and self-run professional learning and of a contribution to more successful teaching heterogeneous students’ and integrate refugee children productively.
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