Using the framework for ethical leadership in education during the coronavirus pandemic
Our Ethical Leadership journey began on the 4th December 2019. You may wonder how I can be so precise, but as a CE primary school, each term we are invited to a Business over Breakfast meeting.
Our Diocesan Advisor, Olivia Seymour, talked the Headteachers in the meeting through the Ethical Leadership Framework and as soon as she said one of the main characteristics was ‘Kindness’, I knew it was perfect for our school and also my leadership style. I truly believe that the ethos of a school has a massive impact on everything from the teaching and learning to the rapport with parents. The expectations we already had in our school follow our vision:
‘Shine like stars in the universe’
and to live this in all the fullness, then I knew the Ethical Leadership Framework would be the path to follow, alongside our Christian Values.
That day, I signed us up as a Pathfinder school and began work on the audit! I felt quite passionate about introducing the Framework to staff and Governors, which was through a powerpoint presentation, as we returned to school in January 2020. They all agreed it was the ethos we were already delivering in school.
The staff and I then began informing the children of the virtues and characteristics in our Collective Worship. Each term we focus on a Christian Value and adding an Ethical Leadership element each week worked well.
I felt right from the very beginning, that we were already using the Framework in school, but it gave me immense confidence in my Leadership skills as I finally had the written documentation to match my ideology! Using the Framework became integral to my daily work in school e.g. being optimistic and leading with positivity despite difficulties and pressures.
After completing the audit, we then began adding the Framework to our vision statement, letterhead, and any new or revised policies. We also used our newsletter: @SOtt Weekly News to inform parents, so they too could become knowledgeable about the virtues and characteristics.
The children soon became involved in the Framework too and decided that instead of being the School Council they would become our Ethical Leaders.
A new badge was ordered for each of them and their meetings began! Our passionate and enthusiastic NQT chaired the meetings and they started straight away raising money for an Indoor Reading area. This was to compliment the outside Reading Shed. They agreed that through their own selflessness, they could enhance the reading skills of all the other children in our ‘@SOtt Year of Reading 2019-2020’. They organised a sponsored read and raised £1100 for an Alice in Wonderland reading area in our school foyer, which they knew would contribute to high quality reading being taught in our school. They were keen to develop learning for others.
We have a proforma for any issues we must deal with in school which we discuss as we look at the problem. This way SLT and Governors can ensure that we only ever act with integrity and in an ethical way.
We were very proud with how far we had come in such a few months… and then the COVID-19 pandemic!
It has given a whole new depth to the Framework in school!
Ensuring that during the pandemic we have been open, honest, and acting with kindness and integrity has been crucial, as we made changes to our daily life to keep the children and staff safe.
I felt it was vital that, as the Headteacher, I was open and truthful at all times, yet acting with courage and selflessness. We had very few Key Worker children in school and so I began emailing the majority of children, staff, parents and Governors every day, to ensure everyone still felt part of the school community we had worked so hard to create. I wanted everyone to know what was happening in school and in the wider context e.g. DFE, Public Health Organisation. I was able to use our school Twitter account to pass on any important information when necessary.
I knew that as the Headteacher I was accountable to all stakeholders for any decisions and actions and ensure that they were made in an open and transparent manner. Through this regular communication they have been informed that any decisions I have made were objective i.e. acting and taking decisions impartially and fairly, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
Each week we have had a home learning task on Ethical Leadership and it has been included in the Wednesday daily email I send to the children at home e.g.:
We are still learning about how to be Ethical Leaders in our school and so this week I thought it would be appropriate to look at OPTIMISM: Leaders are positive and encouraging. Despite difficulties and pressure, we continue to try and make the world a better place.
Have you been a good leader in your house? During Lockdown we have all felt some part of it a challenge. Have you managed to keep positive and encourage your family to be too? See if you can say lots of positive and encouraging things to everyone on your house today- they will appreciate it!
As we now start to follow Government Guidance to extend our provision to other year groups, the planning and preparation I have been making is with all the characteristics and values at the forefront of my mind.
The Ethical Leadership Framework, alongside our Christian Values in our school is enabling us to deal with many new and unheard of situations, but it is also allowing us rise to the challenge by knowing we are doing it with integrity, and therefore with confidence.
I know that the Ethical Leadership Framework has enabled this and planted many seeds which we will now start to see grow as we return to school.