Understanding effective leadership for quality early childhood programmes in Hong Kong
This study aims to identify the characteristics of effective leadership for quality
early childhood programmes in the local settings of a sample of Hong Kong
preschools. To achieve this aim, effective leadership was investigated from the
multiple perspectives of various school stakeholders including school
governors, principals, teachers, members of support staff and parents. The
interactions between school leadership, in-school processes, school outcomes
and school context were examined in depth.
One kindergarten and one child care centre were selected for study, both of
which were rated as 'excellent' in the external validation of the quality
assurance inspections of a local education authority. Data were collected from
semi-structured, individual and group interviews, and the analysis of data was
conducted based on the model of Attride-Stirling's Thematic Network (2001).
As perceived by various school stakeholders, the school principals tended to
take up three major roles: role model, school manager, and mentor for
curriculum and pedagogy. Characteristics of the associated patterns of the three
leadership roles were similar to those of moral, managerial and instructional
leadership documented in the literature. More importantly, research findings
indicated that leadership was largely centralized in the hands of the school
principals in this study. There was a gap between the form of centralized
leadership in the case studies and the conceptual model of participative
leadership experienced in many Western developed countries.
Discussions drawn from the results of this study mainly focus on three areas:
conflicts between market forces and professional values, dilemma between
centralization and decentralization of school leadership, and sustainable
development of the preschools. The implications of this study for professional
development, leadership practice and government support are discussed and its
implications for theoretical literature and further research are also presented.