Odsherreds Efterskole

Normally “agile management” and “scrum teams” are terms most associated with the latest Silicon Valley startup, but this innovative school in Denmark has adapted these practices to make their decision making more responsive to the needs of students – and educators today. 

Odsherreds Boarding school has an excellent reputation and is one of the the most sought after private boarding schools in Denmark.

Working in close cooperation with schools from all over the world and with a multidimensional focus on academic results as well as personal and social formation, the school makes extensive use of technology.

Since one of the schools objectives is to work as an “extended family” with a close relationship between students and teachers, the school only accepts 160 students every year in the 16 to 17 year age range. Students stay at the school for one year only.

The school provides a “living lab” for testing new pedagogical methods and approaches. Over the years , the school has welcomed many school-leaders from Denmark and abroad looking for new inspiration.


Tom W. Hagedorn

Tom W. Hagedorn

Forstander at Odsherreds Efterskole

Tom studied Business Economy for 4 years before changing to study Theology and Philosophy and graduated with an MA in Theology.
A true life long learner, Tom subsequently did a further MA in Learning Processes and is currently studying an MA in Psychology.
Until his mid thirties Tom worked in marketing and communication as a marketing manager as well as performing consultancy work in value based leadership and working relationship. During these years, Tom published a book on Leadership Ethics based on the two Danish philosophers Soren Kierkegaard and K.E.Logstrup.
In 2001, Tom switched to working in education and  joined Odsherreds Boarding School as the principal, and has been that ever since.
Tom grew up in Odense, the same neighbourhood as Hans Christian Andersen, and has a wife and four grown-up children. In his spare time, Tom loves getting out Kitesurfing on the long sandy and windy beaches surrounding Denmark.

In the ever-changing world in our schools, new insights are constantly arriving driven by;

  • new ways of understanding the brain
  • new understanding of social systems
  • new generations with new norms and new ideas and perspectives
  • new technology

One thing is clear:  there is never going to be an end to this process of renewal and change.
As principal and school leadership; how on earth do you keep up with all of this, day after day, year after year, without at some point being burned out? And how do you inspire, motivate and encourage your team of teachers to keep on developing their teaching methods, while they are ever more busy preparing their lessons for tomorrow.
New generations of teachers are not willing to be led by fear and pressure; they want to be involved, included and have their opinions heard. They are motivated by meaningfulness, admission to the overall purpose, participating in the creative process!
So how do you meet these growing expectations as the school principal when you yourself have so many things on your plate?
Tom Hagedorn will address these issues and share some of the methods and organisational structures developed at his school to turned these challenges into opportunities that adds values to the school as a whole: students, teachers and, not to forget: principals.
These approaches include:

  • Agile working groups and project teams
  • “War room” meetings with school leadership where they decide what projects they are doing to “sell” to the teachers
  • Changing the mindset that the leader is first to arrive, last to leave, being a part of every decision, etc.
  • Teachers and mgmt live in very different worlds and the onus is on the administration to really work through transformation and change initiatives
  • All teachers are involved in 2-3 projects. There are scrum meetings once a day and with all staff once every two weeks