26 SES 14 B, High Poverty, Racism and Ethics
In this paper our focus lies on the challenges and opportunities that face school leaders in a context of data driven or contractual accountability. Australia, like so many countries around the world, has embraced high stakes testing to raise standards and increase external accountability for schools. National testing, such as the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), and the publication of test results have become a significant part of the educational landscape. A variety of school achievement measures are publicly available through various sources such as the Australian Federal Government’s My School website (www.myschool.edu.au) and often cited in the press.
Our central thesis in this paper is that in a context of increasing performance driven accountability, effective and ethical school leadership becomes imperative. Indeed we emphasise the need for ethical leadership characterised by moral, ethical and professional dimensions that are likely to produce improvements in student learning and contribute to the life chances of all students. We define ethical leadership as a social, relational practice concerned with the moral purpose of education (Angus, 2006). We are not refuting that leaders and teachers are required to be contractually accountable by ‘fulfilling the expectations of particular audiences in terms of standards, outcomes, and results’ (Mulford, Edmunds, Kendall, Kendall & Bishop, 2008, p.20). Rather, our argument is that there is an urgent need for schools and those charged within them to consider broader notions of accountability that concern issues of ethics and ethical leadership. To this end we argue for the place and purpose of ethical leadership that is aligned closely to equity and inclusivitiy in education (Ainscow, 2007; Klenowski 2009).
Ethical leadership promotes the core values of inclusion, collaboration and social justice when working with staff and with students in school communities. Following the seminal theoretical framework of Starratt (1996), ethical school leadership practice comprises an ethic of care (through relationships with others), an ethic of justice (evident through shared and collaborative practices) and an ethic of critique (a questioning of current policies / practices to improve learning for all students).
In this paper we provide a background discussion on our federally funded research study with a focus on investigating how school principals, middle managers, and teachers engage in ethical leadership practices to promote equitable learning outcomes for students. We present findings from an initial situational analysis of our six partner schools in Queensland, Australia, and report on interview data with school leaders pertaining to their initial understandings of the challenges and opportunities they face in the current climate. Research questions include:
- Based on publicly published data from each of the six schools, what are the key trends and issues?
- What are the current practices in which school leaders engage that fit within an ethical leadership framework?
- How do leaders balance current competing accountabilities?
Ainscow, M. (2007). Taking an inclusive turn. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. 7(1), 3-7. Angus, L. (2006) Educational leadership and the imperative of including student voices, student interest, and students’ lives in the mainstream. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 9(4), 369-379. Bishop, R., O’Sullivan, D., & Berryman, M. (2010). Scaling up education reform: Addressing the politics of disparity. Wellington:NZCER Press. Klenowski, V. (2009). Australian Indigenous students: Addressing equity in assessment. Teaching Education. 20(1), 77-93. Minichiello, V., Aroni, R., Timewell, E. & Alexander, L. (1990). Indepth interviewing: Researching people. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire. Mulford, B., Edmunds, B., Kendall, L., Kendall, D., & Bishop, P. (2008). Successful school principalship, evaluation and acountability. Leading & Managing, 14(2), 19-44. My School website. http://www.myschool.edu.au/ Starratt, R. (1996). Transforming educational administration: Meaning, community and excellence. New York: McGraw Hill. Taylor, S.J. & Bogdan, R. (1984). Introduction to qualitative research methods: The search for meanings. second edition, John Wiley & Sons, New York
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