EUROPEAN SCHOOL HEADS ASSOCIATION
ESHA NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2023
What did the following recipe make?
The perfect venue, over six hundred delegates, multiple leadership organisations from over twenty-nine countries, fantastic keynotes and inspiring workshops all blended perfectly by a professional management team under a master chef.
This was the 2023 ESHA Biennial Conference in Dubrovnik last week of October. The venue just outside the medieval city was excellently managed, with great hospitality and fine catering to give the best conference experience. The keynotes were excellent, apt, well delivered and well received. The Master chef was Suzana Hitrec of UHSR, the Croatian School Heads Association and the team which surround her were nothing short of inspirational. No detail was left to chance and ESHA’s debt of gratitude to these wonderful people is unreserved and extensive.
The energy and enthusiasm at the conference was electric and palpable. Those in attendance spoke of the buzz, the energy and the enjoyment in the gathering. The mix of old and new, traditional and futuristic, provided something to resonate with every delegate. The conference was true to its title “School Leaders Making a Difference” and the congress presentations and materials will be available on the website soon: https://esha2023dubrovnik.com. Fantastic networking opportunities coupled with thought provoking and inspirational keynotes supplied the platform to renew old acquaintances, create new friendships and build powerful professional networks. The Gala dinner accompanied by excellent live music provided for an unusual dynamic and swirling building of friendships and networks amongst participants, guests, and speakers.
The workshops ranging from selfcare to leadership improvement and cyber security coupled with roundtable discussions and school visits covered all aspects of school leadership both theoretical and practical. As Professor Andreas Schleicher joined by hologram it reminded us of a scene from Star Trek as he “beamed in” to speak on how school heads can make a difference in the light of recent developments and research. The following keynote by Boris Jokić relating to the importance of face-to-face education, wellbeing and integrating recent technologies was so well delivered and received that he got a standing ovation. Also, professors Pushpanadham, Canalgan and Harry te Riele ir/MSc made the audience think and reflect in great depth.
Prof. Boris Jokić
Suzana Hitrec, UHSR president
Prof. Andreas Schleicher
The ESHA Biennial Conference is the jewel in the crown of all school leader gatherings and those who were unable to attend missed a seminal moment in school leadership networking and development.
On the final day of the conference, Antonello Giannelli, President of ANP, announced that from 29th to the 31st of October 2025 all roads will lead to Rome. We look forward to meeting again in the "Eternal City" for the 2025 ESHA Biennial Conference. So put the date in your diary now! If you were unable to attend this time or as you reflect on time well spent in Dubrovnik, dream of that which is yet to come in Rome and how you can be part of ESHA. As the famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote,
“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met.”
Stay safe, stay well, and stay in contact with each other in our wonderful ESHA family and we look forward to meeting at the next ESHA Biennial Conference.
ESHA Board members
Paul Byrne, Secretary General, ESHA
Microcredentials certify the learning outcomes of short-term learning experiences, for example a short course or training. They offer a flexible, targeted way to help people develop the knowledge, skills and competences they need for their personal and professional development. It can be relevant to school leaders in two very different ways:
By joining the Alliance (that is free) you will become part of a group that may have the solution for your students’ or staff’s specific learning needs, that will be interested in short, special courses you might want to provide, and that believes in the need for going beyond traditional forms of education.
The European Alliance for Microcredentials was launched during the ESHA Biennial in Dubrovnik in a hybrid event. The launch coincided with the European Vocational Skills Week 2023 and was part of the official programme. ESHA took the initiative as part of its obligations in the MicroVET project, but our commitment goes beyond this duty. We believe that ESHA as part of the Alliance can serve its members’ interest. Founding members are the MicroVET project partners – including ESHA -, but we have welcomed some new members including stakeholder representatives and one of the largest organisations of vocational education providers in the EU before the official launch. The Alliance is also open to anybody – schools, organisations, decision-making bodies and interested individuals – to join as members.
If you are interested in becoming a member or learning more about the European Alliance for Microcredentials, contact Eszter Salamon email@example.com
We are in it together. Transforming schools into (inter)professional learning communities
Schools are confronted with complicated challenges which they can only tackle if they join forces. Teachers, school leaders, parents and other stakeholders need each other to provide all students with the right learning opportunities to thrive. Continuous professional development of the staff is necessary for realizing inclusive and future-proof education. Working and learning in (inter)professional learning communities turn out to be a very strong incentive for staff development and offer good learning results and wellbeing for all students. There is a lot of knowledge on transforming schools into professional learning communities and ELNE would like to share this knowledge with a broader audience.
The Educational Leadership Network Europe (ELNE) is a network funded by the European Commission that brings together a broad range of educational stakeholders to enhance collaborative leadership in education. The network’s main aim is to showcase existing research, practices, and social programs that can be inspirational for others. It wants to provide a platform for all relevant stakeholders in education in order to break the silos and start conducting dialogues.
The first of a yearly (free) webinar week will be held in the week of 12–16 February 2024.
As a partner of ELNE, ESHA will keep sharing more information about the project.
We are happy to announce that the online training for school leaders on the digital transformation of schools, developed in the framework of the DigiLEAD project, is now available in English! Visit https://digilead.kmop.org
The training combines short theoretical elements, case studies, and many engaging exercises to walk you through the most essential knowledge for a school leader to manage the digital transformation of a school effectively. The course has 3 modules that can be taken in any order, self-paced, and utterly free of charge. The modules have assessment elements; these can be repeated to learn unlimited times.
The training will soon be available in Dutch, Greek, Portuguese, and Bulgarian as well.
On the project website you can also find a complete handbook for school heads on the digital transformation of schools in multiple languages.
Stay tuned for the last Digilead project deliverable, coming in December, a set of recommendations for practitioners and policy makers with a collection of good practices in the digital transformation of schools.
There is a new project within the framework of ESHA: Exchange of school management through personal encounters between the Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia.
Seen in the picture: (from left) Yvonne Schormann-Budde and Joan Krebs-Schmid (SLV-NRW), Resi van der Coer and Karin Straus (AVS), Andrea Busche (MdL from Bochum).
Starting in the state parliament on Monday, September 11, 2023, representatives of the SLV-NRW (Schulleitungsvereinigung Nordrhein-Westfalen e.V.) and the AVS (Academie and Vakvereniging Schoolleiders) from the Netherlands met in the state parliament in Düsseldorf. The reason was an initial planning meeting to lay down the basis for a school management exchange between school principals from SLV-NRW and AVS. School leaders from the two countries will visit each other to get to know their respective school cultures and work together on specific topics, for example on resilience in the school management role or the respective status of digitalization.
This project is supported by ESHA, because we can learn a lot from each other all over Europe. We are very much looking forward to this project and hope for a lot of interest and response from our colleagues in North Rhine-Westphalia. The exchange project with the Netherlands can be the beginning of a more active role in Europe.
We are very grateful to Ms. Andrea Busche, MdL and member of the school committee, who gave us the space in the state parliament and took part in the meeting.
The current climate crisis highlights more than ever the need for systemic change. SYNAPSES is building on this change, starting with the youngest and their educators.
Synapses is a new EU-funded project that focuses on fostering sustainability citizenship (SC) through training and community building.
With SC, we advocate for the need for students and teachers to be able to recognise the environmental, social and economic dimensions of climate change, the ability to connect local actions and initiatives to global processes, and the capacity to move from analysis to systematic action on climate change.
The consortium, consisting of 10 partners throughout the EU in different fields related to education and sustainability, is currently defining the needs of practitioners and building platforms to connect through. Focussing on fostering Sustainability Citizenship awareness and practices among those in teaching roles, we ultimately aim to build on a more sustainable future where this ‘new’ thinking becomes the norm among new generations.
More information and updates can be found on: http://synapses-academies.eu
Leaders in our sector are facing an increasingly complex and demanding mission. On the one hand, they must guide development to ensure a high-quality education characterized by learning, well-being, and growth. On the other hand, they are tasked with managing an ever-expanding administrative workload, where support for task completion is often lacking, while resources, in general, continue to grow scarcer. This dilemma has given rise to a growing mismatch between the volume of tasks and the available resources.
The latest research report, Controlled or Supported, vividly illustrates what school and kindergarten leaders are going through. This situation has serious consequences. As educational leaders at various levels, we embarked on this journey with the ambition to contribute to development through participative leadership. However, the increasing workload without sufficient support leads to the opposite effect; we are becoming more and more entangled in administrative tasks, and this directly impacts students' outcomes.
The consequences are beginning to manifest, with a rising turnover rate and, in many cases, a growing recruitment challenge. Fewer individuals are willing to take on leadership roles in schools and kindergartens due to the mounting work pressure and limited resources. This results in a shortage of competent leaders and places an additional burden on those who already hold these roles. Unless we witness a change, the outcome will negatively affect the quality of the learning environment and gradually deteriorate the overall quality.
The report series by the School Leader Association underscores this issue and highlights potential solutions that could improve the conditions.
It is crucial that authorities and society as a whole grasp this challenge and take measures to enhance leadership capacity in schools and kindergartens. This will be instrumental in ensuring a sustainable, high-quality education for future generations. This is our primary task—to foster a collective understanding at the national, regional, and local levels to address our dual mission!
Stig Johannessen, ESHA Board member
Road-STEAMer (www.road-steamer.eu) is a three-year project (2022-2025) aimed at developing a STEAM Roadmap for Science Education in Horizon Europe and in educational policy across the continent.
The 13-partner consortium – one of them being ESHA – is working on a plan of action that will provide guidance to the European Union's key funding programme for research and innovation on how to encourage more interest in ‘STEM’ through the use of artistic approaches, creative thinking and applied arts (the “A” in ‘STEAM’). Particular attention is given to the role of open schooling and open science, and on the connection between secondary and tertiary education.
One of the outputs of the first year of the project was Picking up STEAM, a policy brief that summarises the work done so far, highlighting four main policy areas:
Road-STEAMer was featured at the 2023 ESHA conference in Dubrovnik, as it hosted a side-event as part of the General Assembly on 24 October. During this participatory workshop, facilitated by colleagues from the Lisbon Council (the coordinator of the Road-STEAmer project), heads of school from different countries came together to share their views on the identified policy areas, further enriching its insights with perspectives from their experience. The outcomes of this workshop, combined with other forms of stakeholder engagement, will feed into the work of the second year of the project.
If you share a passion for STEAM education and are interested in the work of Road-STEAMer, there are several opportunities for you to stay up-to-date and engage with the project:
The Leadership for Diversity consortium has worked all summer to realise the initial version of the Professional Development Program (PDP) on leading for a diverse learning environment.
Diversity in schools has many benefits, while at the same time it brings up challenges. With the PDP, we aim to create awareness of the benefits among school leaders and head teachers and provide tools to overcome the potential challenges in order to foster diversity in education.
In the coming months, pilots for the PDP will be held in Spain, France, Ireland, Cyprus and the Netherlands. We have also conducted an international pilot in Dubrovnik (Croatia) during the ESHA biennial conference. It was great to receive feedback from all of those who participated!
Find more information on the project, the PDP and the upcoming ehub on: https://leadershipfordiversity.eu