08-05 Schools and the Social context of Education

Course objectives

Leadership is widely regarded as playing a significant role in school improvement and educational change. Most evidence suggests that successful leaders in schools contribute to student learning through the influence on other people or features of their organizations and that leadership effects are usually larger where and when they are needed the most. Although there is considerable evidence, about school leaders mostly head teachers or school principals, there is still much to be learned about which forms of leadership or basic leadership practices successful leaders use, and how leadership is distributed (stretched over leaders, followers and situations) in schools and across the school system (e.g. state, local, institutional, school and classroom).

The aim of this ICO-Master class is to explore recent perspectives and empirical research on these issues of forms, the distributed nature of leadership and the effects of different patterns of leadership practices on the improvement of teaching and student learning. The Master class will provide an overview of what is meant to take a distributed perspective on leadership, an examination of various interpretations of the term, a summary of current research, illustrative examples and guidelines.


This course is especially interesting for PhD students involved in research about leadership, school organisation, school improvement and efficiency and the functioning of teams in schools.

Requirements are:
· Fulfilment of all assignments
· Presence at all meetings. If, due to circumstances beyond ones control, the student is absent, then the student must notify the lecturer in advance. The lecture may then give an alternate assignment.
- Active participation in all meetings.


Prof .dr. James P. Spillane
Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and Learning Sciences
Northwestern University, Chicago

Prof dr. Peter J.C. Sleegers
Professor of Educational Sciences
University of Amsterdam
The Netherlands


All meetings are in seminar format and students get assignments. Assignments will be announced during the seminars. Assignments must be fulfilled in order to participate in discussion. To facilitate discussion, students will be challenged with specific questions.


In addition to the assignments, students are asked to review a manuscript for a journal (related to distributed leadership). This review will be discussed and evaluated. The final grade will be based on the assignments, the review and on the students attitude during, participation in, and contribution to the seminars meetings.


Students will get feedback during the seminars meetings and also outside the meetings.


Spillane, J. (2006). Distributed leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Selected articles to be distributed before and during the Master class

Dates and locations

The Master class will be held on 11, 12, and 15 September.
The meetings will take place at the Studiecentrum Open University, Vondellaan 202, Utrecht.


The deadline for registration for this course is July 31st 2008.

Before you register, please read our regulations for registration.

To register, please go to our registration form.

The maximum number of participants for this course is 15.