COLIBRU: Collective investigative school leadership in and around Brussels

Project Details


The project aims at developing educational leadership in Dutch-language secondary education in Brussels and the Brussels periphery. The starting point is an existing network of schools in which - through a partnership with the Multidisciplinary Institute for Teacher Training (MILO) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel - researching professional learning communities of teachers and future teachers are working collaboratively, each time with a teacher educator as bridge builder in the team ('Inquiry School?!'). These 'investigative teams' work with a view to strengthening the (broad) learning outcomes and learning processes of students, improving educational practice and their own professionalism. Such an investigative team carries out - spread over the school year - a practical research in which, starting from a practical question with which they struggle in their own school, they successively: map the initial situation, focus the questions and the results to be achieved, consult sources, collect data and analyse, design and implement actions, evaluate and reflect. In short, they are research activity-supported quality development cycles. Inquiring School?! was started in 2012 and has since then been further developed on the basis of design research.

It has proven to be a promising approach to renew teaching practice even in underachieving schools, where teachers doubt their students' ability to learn and teach, and to reinforce teachers' belief that they can achieve results together with their students despite their disadvantaged backgrounds (collective teacher efficacy) (Willegems, 2020). This is already the case in 2/3 of the target group of 28 schools envisaged in this project. This offers opportunities because a practice of collective learning has already been initiated on a small scale in those schools through support from teacher training. It facilitates further stimulation of teacher leadership in the school. In addition, it is established that embedding this practice in the school and scaling it up, so that the entire school team is involved in a process of continuous professional development, is still a major challenge. Without a solid supportive educational and transformative school leadership, even maintaining the functioning of these current investigative teams is problematic as soon as the leading role is no longer fulfilled by teacher training.

The present project proposal builds on the methodology of the Inquisitive School?! and aims to develop flanking leadership. The trajectory for school management is spread over two years and comprises a number of successive phases, each with its own operational goals, which together lead to the intended competences. Central to the approach is an Investigative School trajectory for groups of school leaders themselves, so that they gain experience with the approach and the return on this form of professionalization and quality development. The problem that they tackle in this process is linked to their educational school leadership.
Short title or EU acronymCOLIBRU
Effective start/end date1/09/2130/06/23


  • Educational Leadership
  • Brussels
  • Secondary Education
  • Dutch language schools

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Secondary education


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