“Headmasters’ network” is a research project with the aim to investigate the value and role of formal and informal networks involving headmasters. INDIRE’s aim is to study and test training models that can be used to keep headmasters up to date, in view of innovating the school system.
Thanks to previous studies, INDIRE has drawn attention to the fact that formal and informal networks set up between headmasters play a vital role when it comes to scholastic autonomy and educational leadership. This research helps to understand the characteristics of these networks, bringing out their structure, evolution, life cycle, functional dynamics, final goals, and indicators of efficiency and effectiveness. A national investigation was set up to understand their characteristics and identify which elements allow the transformation of a network into tools for continuous training and support for autonomy.
The research highlights the transfer of knowledge within headmasters’ network from school leaders’ networks, helping to define the characteristics of existing networks, and investigating school leaders’ knowledge of the role of formal and informal networks.
The research examines the dynamics and operational mechanisms in headmasters’ networks from organisational, management and relational points of view. An approach based on ”grounded theory” is used to examine the professionalism of a headmaster who uses the networks, i.e. examining specific situations and concrete actions, to develop a theory. This brings out the role of headmasters within the networks and the role of the school in supporting change and innovation in the school system.
The research analyses and highlights the processes that allow networks to add training initiatives, clarifying their role in scholastic innovation. A study and analysis of training activities for school leaders is included to identify structures and organisational models, and to highlight possible connections between training courses and the processes that create professional networks, and subsequently support and develop them.
Using digital technologies, in particular still images and videos, it is possible to bring out aspects that could not be properly investigated using the traditional means of qualitative research. The research also makes use of an emerging method, namely, “visual sociology” which, as the specialist Maresca has stated, “encourages researchers to think with their eyes”.