This study is a case study conducted over 6 years. In the first round of visits to schools 6 years ago, in the ISSPP context (Höög et al. J Educ Adm 43(6): 595–606, 2005), we found two very self-confident and successful principals who had created, over the last 3–4 years, very successful schools out of schools in challenging situations. Their students had started to produce good marks over the national average.
We went back to the schools in 2008/2009 and found that the successful principals were not there any more but the schools were still producing good student outcomes with mean grades over the national average.
Strong teacher teams in both schools had kept the good connection to the local society and the parents of the children. Their definition of a successful school was in line with the parents’ ideas and was based on the slogan “good is good enough.”
The second principal in one school had already left and the principal in the other was about to leave. They both had not been able to get connected to and inspire the teacher teams to improve their work. Their leadership style deviated from a leadership based on trust, dialogue, and collaboration and they both decided to leave their position. The third principal at the River school struggled to keep the school on a good academic level, despite the decreasing numbers of students, and in his vision he said that he will strive to increase the outcomes.
In 2010, the two schools still present good results over the national average and also better than expected, considering the socioeconomic background of students. Again, this was possible not only because of qualified teachers and support from the local community but also a strengthened focus on outcomes on behalf of the principals. They both strived to develop new structures for the division of labor among the teachers. Due to decreasing student numbers this has to be done, but a complementing reason is to create a more result-oriented school organization. There was a lot of opposition against those plans; so, a leadership combining structural and cultural changes based on a developed dialog both on a group and on an individual level was required. In all though, the prognosis for the new principals seem to be good and even better student performance could be expected over the coming years.
Springer Netherlands, 2011. 73-89 p.