School Leaders within the Icelandic Education System: Complex Roles, Multilevel Relations, and Fragmented Support: Complex Roles, Multilevel Relations, and Fragmented Support

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

The tasks and roles of school leaders in Iceland have changed in parallel with a steady and constant development taking place within the education system since the early 1900s. Nowadays the leading force is decentralisation, with emphasis on soft governance. Together with social and cultural changes, and global influences, decentralisation influences the work and working environment of school leaders. The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of the school leaders role, their working conditions, and relationships at the first three school levels in Iceland. We used existing publications as data and content analysis when analysing the data. The findings show that school leaders have an extinctive role in the school system, which is changing rapidly in parallel with various transnational and national changes. School leaders are in complex and multilevel relations with various stakeholders, within and outside the school, on both national and municipal levels. However, there is limited and fragmented support from the authorities. Their roles, stipulated in the regulative structure, do not fully reflect school leaders’ actual tasks and activities. Both principals and middle managers are swamped by administrative tasks that diminish their capacity and goodwill to act as pedagogical leaders. Their pedagogical agency decreases moving higher up the school system. Distributed leadership characterises the leadership structure within the education system in Iceland, and the growth of the middle managers layer has increased accordingly. The formal education of all school leaders is grounded in their teacher license. However, requirements for pedagogical leadership are not the leading demand, even though call for such emphasis has increased recently at the global level and by the school leaders themselves. They lack professional support and formal educational training. That is, increased workloads and demands together, may threaten their well-being and professional capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation and Democracy in the Nordic Countries.
Subtitle of host publicationEducational Governance Research
EditorsAnn Elisabeth Gunnulfsen, Helen Ärlestig, Merete Storgaard
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Pages45-59
Number of pages15
Volume21
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-33195-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-33194-7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2023

Publication series

NameEducational Governance Research
Volume21
ISSN (Print)2365-9548
ISSN (Electronic)2365-9556

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Other keywords

  • Compulsory school principals
  • Educational system
  • Preschool principals
  • School leaders
  • School leadership
  • Upper secondary principals

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