Professional development on inclusion for school leaders: a pilot project in Croatia and North Macedonia

There is a common misconception that (school) leaders are born into it. Perhaps, this misconception has brought us to the situation that in some countries in Europe, professional development of school principals has been neglected or is non-existent, though school leaders play a significant role in the creation of positive and inclusive school cultures, for student achievement. School leadership is second only to classroom instruction among all school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school. 

The EU funded project “HEAD: Empowering School Principals for Inclusive School Culture”, that started on December 1st 2019, aims to address the professionalisation of school principals in Croatia and North Macedonia. It will focus on inclusive education, exploiting best practices from Slovenia and the Netherlands and piloting five modules of professional development in 60 schools, building their capacities in establishing inclusive school culture creating inclusive school policies and practices through participatory decision-making.

Through the programs (one tailored for primary, the other for high school leaders), school leaders involved will strengthen their capacity to support democratic school governance, cooperation with stakeholders and inclusiveness in general. By streamlining the professionalization of school leaders, the project will provide professional development for school leaders to create an inclusive school culture in their schools, resulting in better management, in both the academic and non-academic aspects, leading towards a more inclusive community and society.

The impact of the project will be measured by an impact study that will show the effectiveness of the intervention and a policy roadmap defining the major steps and milestones for mainstreaming the professional development programs in the piloting countries will be outlined.

Watch the video Empowering School Principals for Inclusive School Culture – the HEAD project

NEPC, coordinating partner, is implementing the project in cooperation with seven partners from four different countries, and three associate partners:


Forum for freedom in Education

Open Academy Step by Step

North Macedonia

Foundation for Education and Cultural Initiatives Step by Step

Macedonian Civic Education Centre


Educational Research Institute

National School of Leadership in Education

The Netherlands

NSO – CNA Leadership academy

Associate partners

European School Head Association

Association of Croatian Secondary School Principals

Association of Croatian Primary School Principals

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