Framework for ethical leadership in education

31 Dec

Working educationally without a moral compass is tantamount to spinning away into space bereft of a steering wheel and without a clue about the destination.   It is, consequently, welcome that the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has developed a blueprint for the ethical leadership of schools, academies and colleges. ASCL took a year to do so.

Governors together with their headteachers are very much part of schools’ and academies’ leadership team.   Accordingly, there is merit in taking time out to read, digest and act on the framework, which sets out the characteristics of effective leaders.

I        The Framework


School, academy and college leaders should act solely in the interests of children and young people.


School, academy and college leaders must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. Before acting and taking decisions, they declare and resolve openly any perceived conflict of interests and relationships.


School, academy and college leaders must act and take decisions impartially and fairly using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias. Leaders should be dispassionate exercising judgement and analysis for the children and young people.


School, academy and college leaders are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

(5)     HONESTY

School, academy and college leaders should be truthful.


School, academy and college leaders should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour whenever it occurs. Leaders include both, those who are paid to lead in schools, academies and colleges and those who volunteer to govern them.

II      Essential characteristics of good leaders

Schools, academies and colleges serve children and young people and help them grow into fulfilled and valued citizens. As role models for the young, how we behave as leaders is as important as what we do.

Leaders should show leadership through the following personal characteristics or values.

(a)     TRUST

Leaders are trustworthy and reliable. We hold trust on behalf of children and should be beyond reproach. We are honest about our motivations.

(b)     WISDOM

Leaders use experience, knowledge and insight. We demonstrate moderation and self-awareness. We act calmly and rationally. We serve our schools, academies and colleges with propriety and good sense.

(c)      KINDNESS

Leaders demonstrate respect, generosity of spirit, understanding and good temper. We give difficult messages humanely when conflict is unavoidable.

(d)     JUSTICE

Leaders are fair and work for the good of children. We seek to enable all young people to lead useful, happy and fulfilling lives.

(e)      SERVICE

Leaders are conscientious and dutiful. We demonstrate humility and self-control, supporting the structures, conventions and rules which safeguard quality. Our actions protect high-quality education.

(f)      COURAGE

Leaders work courageously in the best interests of children and young people. We protect their safety and their right to a broad, effective and creative education. We hold one another to account courageously.

(g)     OPTIMISM

Leaders are positive and encouraging. Despite difficulties and pressures, we are developing excellent education to change the world for the better.

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