The Roots and Wings International Programme for School Leadership

In 1995 the 3 regions of Vejle ( Denmark), Tuscany ( Italy) and West Wales (UK) formed a partnership for educational development in order to raise international understanding. This partnership has proved very successful and has engaged large numbers of primary, secondary and special schools in educational activities. The Partnership is now providing structured opportunities for secondary headteachers to develop in a transnational context.


Statement of values



In this initiative, three-way international partnering between individual headteachers is used to raise their effectiveness and their impact within schools.


In 3 partner regions 10 secondary school head teachers will be partnered to one head in each of the other two regions. Over a period of 24 months each head will visit the countries of his/her partners to undertake leadership development activities and a school effectiveness project. Approximately 7 days per year will be spent in one of the partner countries in training and visiting the partner establishment in order to undertake a school effectiveness inquiry.


At the start of each yearly cycle heads will meet as a group for focussed development activities led by coaches. They will then go to the partner schools to begin an effectiveness project within the context of the individual school. In the intervening period between each visit – as the school effectiveness intervention develops - the heads will communicate with each other electronically. At the end of the 3 year period the gains will be evaluated and the 3 year project reviewed as a model to develop European leadership. Individual reports for each partnership, an overall evaluation report and an international conference will evaluate and disseminate the results.


The aims of the initiative are:

  • To raise school effectiveness and the learning of pupils by developing the leadership and management effectiveness of individual secondary schools.
  • To foster international understanding by developing educational and management issues in a transnational context within the real environment of actual schools.
  • To provide secondary school leaders with structured opportunities to develop their own leadership and management within a context that challenges present assumptions and performance.
  • To adopt an action based, inquiry approach to developing management and leadership.
  • To foster leadership mentoring at an international level facilitated by ICT.
  • To build a model for the development of school leadership at a transnational level.


The programme comprises 3 cycles of activity of approximately 8 months. During each cycle each head will visit the country of his/her partners to undertake:

A. professional development activities - as a transnational group working together (up to 3 days). These activities will focus upon the leadership effectiveness of participants, providing them with the tools to step beyond their own situation and facilitate learning and coaching of their partners.

B. a school development project - as part of the 3 way partnership (up to 4 days). Each trio will identify an appropriate theme for intervention which gives an opportunity to focus on the management and leadership issues as well as the whole school outcome. The activity will then move to the individual host school for that year where the trio will explore the theme together, planning and implementing, identifying leadership and management issues. The key opportunities here are those presented by an organisational challenge which can be explored in a different system and culture.

C. a mentoring/coaching process - which will continue throughout the following 8 months. During the group sessions together (A. above), the headteachers in the 3 way partnerships will be enabled to develop challenging mentoring relationships and provided with tools by which to do this. These relationships will continue during the intervening period by means of regular communication and dialogue, above all by e-mail but also, by phone and, where desired, video-conferencing. A secure site will also be created on the Roots and Wings Home Site for discussion of emerging common issues and provide further specialist coaching from the moderator.


Each partnership will provide a 6 monthly update for the internet site which will indicate the key learning that has gone on. A summary report will be prepared at the end of each cycle on the intervention that has been undertaken – this, too, will be made available on the internet site.


At the end of the 3 year period there will be a celebratory conference. The gains will be evaluated and the 3 year project reviewed. The individual reports for each partnership will be available individually. An overall evaluation report will consider the effectiveness of this as an international leadership development model.

The expected impact on the target groups

  • The process will have a tangible impact upon the individual head’s sense of achievement and fulfilment as well as the ethos of the school and pupils’ learning.
  • The collaborative approach, based around the concept of the “learning laboratory” will enrich the learning and leadership capacity of each member institution.
  • Enhanced international understanding and collaboration between schools.
  • The key impact will be upon the leadership and management effectiveness of the school leaders, with the knock-on effect upon the effectiveness of the school.
  • As each trio identifies the project for intervention, key educational and management indicators will be agreed as the measures for impact.
  • The 3 year cycle will have resulted in deep 3 way-partnerships between individual heads and schools.


This initiative has been made possible with the support of the European Community in the framework of the Socrates programme. The participation of each headteacher will be made possible by funding for which a further application will be made.

Outline Programme

September 21-27- 2002

Cycle 1

West Wales , UK




8-14 March 2003

Cycle 2

Tuscany , Italy




4-10 October 2003

Cycle 3

Vejle , Denmark




11-15 Sept 2004

Celebration/Dissemination conference

West Wales , UK

In order to profit fully from the programme you need to bear in mind that:

  • communication will be in English
  • ICT will be used for communication between the partners

In order to facilitate the matching of partners, we shall take into account:

  • the range and type of schools, including rurality and location;
  • the need to include under-represented groups, e.g. women, racial minorities.