Emma Knights

Author: Emma Knights

16/11/2018 16:29:57

For the past year Emma Knights, NGA’s Chief Executive has been involved in an Ethical Leadership Commission, with a number of other commission members, including ASCL, NAHT and Committee for Standards in Public Life, amongst others. Whilst the commission itself is wrapping up, the on-going objectives of the commission is now pushing ahead.

The draft report of the Ethical Leadership Commission was published at ASCL Annual Conference in 2018 set up an initial framework, with the final framework and report published in time for a launch event on the 25th January 2019. The commission is working on a number of ways in which to implement Ethical Leadership into schools, including setting up an ethical forum, integrating the framework into Initial Teacher Training and working to integrate the framework into existing school leadership.

Whilst there is a strong practice of ethical leadership in education, there is no clear guidance on the role of ethical leadership, especially in regards to decision making, and in the current educational climate, decisions are taken under great pressure, with competing influences in these decisions. Therefore, the Commission hoped to set up a ‘clear set of principles, owned by the profession’[1] to help steer school leaders alongside governors/trustees decision making. The Framework has been thoroughly considered by the commission members, and based on national standards, ethical tradition and current research towards thinking about ethical leadership in education.  It is hoped that this over-arching approach combines the work of all the larger ethical contributions.

To this aim, NGA has been working to create resources to help school leaders and governors/trustees evaluate the role of ethical leadership in their schools. Whilst the resources are yet to be finalised, we hope that they will offer a range of options for school leaders and governors/trustees to work together to improve their schools. We hope that you will join us in this new venture by joining us as pathfinders to test out our resources and engage in ethical leadership. Carolyn Roberts, Chair of the Ethical Leadership Commission explains:

“The Ethical Leadership Commission has developed a Framework for Ethical Leadership to help school leaders take difficult decisions. Our pathfinder programme is a very practical part of our work and we are delighted that governors and trustees will be able to take part through the NGA.  The Commission itself is presenting the other two aspects of its work, alongside the pathfinders, at its summit on January 25th 2019.  Their experiences will help leaders in all schools make wise and courageous decisions, for the good of all our children. Accountability is not enough: we have to do good.” Carolyn Roberts, Chair of the Ethical Leadership Commission.

Carolyn Roberts, has also published a number of blogs around the framework’s values and virtues.

Be involved!

NGA is recruiting pathfinders to test our resources, and are looking for volunteer school leaders and governing board members/trustees.

Great reasons to be a pathfinder:

  • Improve your school’s ethical foundation
  • CPD for school leaders and governing boards
  • Access to pathfinder resources and support
  • Networking with similar-thinking schools
  • Lead the way as an exemplar of ethical leadership and inspire other schools with good practice
  • Engage in the ethical leadership debate

Pathfinders will be required to:

  • Be interested in improving their governance/leadership and have an interest in ethical leadership
  • Commit to complete one of the ‘paths’ to explore ethical leadership; this could be an ethical audit, discussion of case studies provided in resource pack, review of school values and ethos in light of the framework, or running your own case studies provided by the governing board/trust through the ethical framework
  • Commit to two future events – one in July 2019 and one in January 2020 or give written feedback on the programme.

To submit your interest in the pathfinder project, or if you had any, please email Carys.Ward@nga.org.uk

If you do so before the 04th January 2019 then you will be invited to join the Ethical Commission Launch event in London on the 25th January 2019. You are more than welcome to register anytime throughout the year, but will be expected to complete some of the ethical resources before January 2020 in order to report your feedback.

Become a pathfinder!


[1] Roberts, C. (2018) Report of the Ethical Leadership Commission to the Association of School and College Leaders’ Annual Conference 2018. [online] Available at: file:///C:/Users/carys.ward/Downloads/report_of_the_ethical_leadership_commission_to_annual_conference_2018%20(4).pdf  [Accessed 15 November 2018].

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