The goal of HeadsUP project is to raise the achievement of pupils in an inclusive setting and the successful integration and education of refugee children by enhancing the professional development of school leaders (heads) and consecutively of teachers. Using structured, collaborative, problem-solving activities within the special treatment of school-based professional learning communities (PLCs) of school leaders that result in teachers learning groups.

These learning groups work on refining teaching skills for successful teaching and classroom management; bringing teachers together in learning groups in each school around specific subjects and in specific ways.

HeadsUP is unique in its introduction of professional learning communities (PLCs) for the development of heads from participating countries and the improvement of their leadership skills, in order to support teachers in developing their own practice within learning groups.

This model also opens up a new system of collaboration between school leaders and their teachers because they are encouraged to see their head as a professional learner and therefore equal partner in cooperatively developing school. HeadsUP also supports new perspectives on diversity (age, gender, subject orientation etc.) and reflects the latest academic thinking on diversity management in schools. The idea of setting up professional learning communities (PLCs) in the two-level-model (“Doubledecker”) is inspired by the positive international experience of teachers’ development with PLCs (Bonsen/Rolff, 2005; William, 2007; Timperley, 2008) and the experience the partners have in supporting professional development.

The double-decker approach

The concept of the double-decker is referred to, when school development as well as teaching development takes place not only in PLCs on the school leaders‘ level but also on the teachers‘ level. The HeadsUP-Project aims at encouraging and supporting heads to work in PLCs and to familiarize with this method. Furthermore, HeadsUP aims at strengthening their leadership competencies and so enable them to guide their school’s teaching staff into such cooperation among teachers, support them and build up the necessary structures, so that teachers can develop further their teaching competencies in a process of joint learning.