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Leader as Policy Device: The Hybridization of Head Teachers in Italy

Roberto Serpieri, Emiliano Grimaldi


The aim of this article is to show how educational policies in Italy in the last 15 years have conceived headship as a «lever of change», producing a sort of «subjection» which implies a remarkable hybridization of the role. The ongoing pressures on policymaking by «noneducational » actors are depicted as a feature of the Italian policies on the restructuring of school governance and headship. The topics presented are based on researches carried out in recent years and focusing on the training, selection and evaluation of Italian head teachers. The article is structured as follows. Firstly, we present the theoretical framework based on the conceptual tools of discourse and governance. Secondly, we offer a brief outline on how head teachers were «formed» as educators before the 1997 Autonomy Reform. In the final section, some tensions that emerge during the discussions on headship are presented by analysing a particular set of «technologies» such as training, selection and evaluation that aim to «S-Objectivate» specific head teachers. The analysis will allow us to shed light on what we think of as an invisible and politically remarkable dilemma that is at stake here: «headship as a managerialist device to ‘control’ education policies».


Control education policies; Italian head teachers; Leader; Managerialist device; Policy device;

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ecps-2015-011-serp

Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies (ECPS)
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (19/05/2010 n. 278)
Online ISSN 2037-7924 - Print ISSN 2037-7932

Research Laboratory on Didactics and Evaluation - Department of Education - "Roma Tre" University

Executive Editor: Gaetano Domenici - Managing  Editor: Valeria Biasci
Editorial Board: Giuditta Alessandrini - Eleftheria Argyropoulou - Massimo Baldacci - Joao Barroso - Richard Bates - Christofer Bezzina - Paolo Bonaiuto - Lucia Boncori - Pietro Boscolo - Sara Bubb  - Carlo Felice Casula - Jean-Émile Charlier - Lucia Chiappetta Cajola - Carmela Covato - Jean-Louis Derouet - Peter Early - Franco Frabboni - Constance Katz - James Levin - Pietro Lucisano  - Roberto Maragliano - Romuald Normand - Michael Osborne - Donatella Palomba - Michele Pellerey - Clotilde Pontecorvo - Vitaly V. Rubtzov - Jaap Scheerens - Noah W. Sobe - Francesco Susi - Giuseppe Spadafora - Pat Thomson
Editorial Staff: Fabio Alivernini - Guido Benvenuto - Anna Maria Ciraci - Massimiliano Fiorucci - Luca Mallia - Massimo Margottini - Giovanni Moretti - Carla Roverselli 
Editorial Secretary:
Nazarena Patrizi