The project interlinks two topical issues: school networking and inclusive education (respectively diversity management at schools). Teacher networking in schools has been considered to be one of the effective ways of professional development and increasing expertise at schools in recent years. Coping with diversity at schools is a matter of close cooperation and joint learning, not only within schools, but also among schools. For this, it is necessary to create professional networks that are effectively supported by the school leadership. The network is a social form that allows interaction and exchange through joint events and products, this concerns communities where learners share their experience and knowledge and jointly develop new knowledge. Due to the nature of the profession (the prevailing isolation at the place and specific time structuring), learning networks are valued very highly both in relation to teaching and schools. The networking is connected with the theory of so-called social capital as people benefit from their membership in social networks. Networks have the advantage that they are organized around the needs and interests of the members. The professional network involves joint learning (organizational learning), cooperation, and the network is often described as a professional community. Teacher networking and other forms of sharing of experience and knowledge among teachers/schools have become a priority for the EU and national educational policies, and the platform for lifelong professional learning is supported by many programs at various levels.
The question remains how people and schools are motivated for networking, how these networks are managed and maintained outside the projects. When talking about professional networks in our project, we mean open, continuously cooperating groups of teachers within one school and across various schools sharing their experience and materials and cooperate in terms of innovations and development of teaching and learning. It seems to be essential to prepare school leaders in relation to their competence to lead and manage a network of teachers, within schools and among schools. In our project, we have been focusing on the role of school leadership in the management of professional networks of teachers and schools, with a focus on teaching in environment characteristic by a high diversity of pupils.
The main objectives of the project are:
1. to develop competencies of headteachers of primary schools (ISCED 1,2) for managing professional networks of teachers focused (not only) on the area of diversity management at schools and building a culture of networking at schools,
2. to develop competencies of the trainers of headteachers in the educational topic of professional networks by creating the training modules,
3. to promote a cooperation and exchange of experience among the participating headteachers and their educators and indirectly also the support of the quality of teaching and diversity management at schools.