School development as a matter of discovering and conquering the available scope for action

Document identifier:
Keyword: School development, Institution, Organization, Scope for action
Publication year: 2004
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 4 Quality educationSDG 11 Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions
The SDG label(s) above have been assigned by


The aim of this paper focuses on relationships within and between the school as an institution and schools as organizations. School as an institution represents mandates that set outer boundaries for the school's activities. The internal cultures of schools mark the inner boundaries for the day-to-day work, carried on in schools. Between these outer and inner boundaries there is a scope for action available for the development of schools. School development could then be identified as discovering and taking possession of this scope for action. The basic outlook in this kind of school development is it´s starting point. All activities emanate from the basic requirements and ambitions of a certain school, apart from ready-made top- down strategies by external experts and consultants of every kind. This obviously visible bottom-up strategy depends highly on the capability of individual schools in planning, realizing and evaluating their own program of school development. The actions to take place also starts among the local actors, in these case the teachers and also the students. Finding one method that aims to clarify all the complex aspects of a school culture is thus almost impossible. What is possible is trying to develop a method or strategy which has at least conceivable premises for clarifying the significant aspects of school's culture. The two schools that I study have specially selected groups of personnel regarding development, starting with the collection of data from the staff and students. They act as researchers in their own practice and I will follow the process from an action research approach. The method collecting data in connection to cultural analysis is made by letter writing. All staff and students in the certain school get one question: " For the staff: What is your impression of working conditions here at school? " For students: How is it to be a student in this school? The participants are then given the chance to write "freely from the heart" regarding to his/her views of daily work. In the next step, when the letter material is analyzed, the letter statements will be assorted in three horizontal dimensions, based on criterias of co-operation, planning and the dimension of (educational) change. Completed with an un-specified number of vertical headings, directly originated from the letters, we now have a usable raw-material for the making of a qualitative analysis of the actual situation in this specific school. The development group now will make a preliminary report,and send it out through all divisions of their scholl for referral. A the same time they also compare their results to the Swedish official written curricula and school documents, in order to find out what is possible to develop in the newly exposed free area for educational development. As a researcher, my main questions are as follow: I want to focus on how the individual schoolteachers think about school development. Is it possibility to increase the quality at the individual school by school development or does the teacher predestinates it more as an activity that competes with the teaching? What do the teachers think about their commission? What is essential for them and what is not? How do the students think about the school and what is important for them to develop? Is there a struggleful power around school development from different participants in school? Who is in reality in charge of the developing of schools ?


Katharina Jacobsson

Högskolan Dalarna; Pedagogiskt arbete
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