1 Being a school leader in India

The Right to Education Act (RtE) 2009 gives schools in India more autonomy than they have had in the past. This has already happened in many other countries, with school leaders often having responsibility for their own budgets, the power to recruit their own teachers and even being able to decide on the curriculum. These changes bring more responsibility but also more freedom, and the expectation that school leaders will work towards improving their school without waiting for instructions from the district education office or other educational authorities. In India, the work of the National College of School Leadership (NCSL) at the National University of Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA) is supporting these changes.

TESS-India provides a bank of Open Educational Resources (OERs) that includes 20 study units for school leaders. These are designed to provide learning activities on various aspects of school leadership. Some focus explicitly on improving teaching and learning, and developing your teachers’ classroom practice; others focus on the processes and systems in schools, such as building a vision, conducting a school review, creating a development plan and working with the community that your school is located in. You can select the OERs that meet your own professional learning needs. The units are grouped in accordance with priorities identified by the NCSL for school leadership, but they are not a course – you are encouraged to create your own route through the units.

Each unit has activities and case studies. The activities are for you to carry out in your school; some of them involve working with colleagues and some of them you will do on your own. Rather than being designed to create extra work, they help you reflect on and gain a better understanding of things that you are doing anyway or were thinking of doing. Each unit is designed to be coherent, but you might still choose to do individual activities rather than a whole unit. The OERs respect the knowledge and experience that you bring to your role, and encourage you to work collaboratively.

In this introductory unit you will start by thinking about your own professional development. You will consider what knowledge and skills you already have and how you might develop your practice as a school leader.

TESS-India also provides OERs for teachers. All the OERs take a social view of learning, where learning takes place through participation in practices with other colleagues and students in your school. They are not detailed recipes for best practice or instructional materials; instead, they encourage you and your teachers to develop reflective and discursive identities and roles. The aim is to be open about learning and inquiry, towards the possibility of solving problems within one’s own working environment, whether that be your school or your classroom (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Bruner, 1996; Wenger, 1998).

Pause for thought

Think back to the start of your career as a school leader or a senior teacher.

  • What have you learnt since you became a school leader?
  • How do you learn?
  • What opportunities for professional learning do you have?

What you can learn in this unit

2 Thinking about your own learning as a school leader