Skip to content
Latest updates

Report reveals experiences of ethical leadership pathfinders


The Framework for Ethical Leadership in Education is a versatile, influential and practical resource for schools, trusts and colleges across different contexts, according to a new report ‘Paving the way for Ethical Leadership in Education: the pathfinder schools and trusts’ published today (29 January) by the National Governance Association (NGA).

Marking two years since the launch of the framework, the report explores how some of the 341 schools and trusts that signed up as pathfinders have adopted and embedded it into their working practices to navigate through ethical thinking and decision-making.

This includes how the framework provides a common language for leaders and boards to direct discussions and decision-making; how it shapes the culture and actions of their organisation and how it was simple to adopt without creating additional work.

In the report, nine pathfinders share their story to illustrate some of the ways in which schools and trusts have used the framework. They demonstrate how they approached the project to embed ethical leadership in their school/trust to address specific opportunities and challenges including stakeholder engagement, recruitment and curriculum.

To coincide with the release, practical resources including an ethical audit and set of dilemmas that have been developed and tested with the pathfinders, are being made available to enable more schools and trusts to adopt the framework.

Building on the Nolan Principles of Public Life, the Framework for Ethical Leadership in Education comprises a set of values and virtues, against which those leading and governing schools and trusts can evaluate their decisions and actions. It was developed by the Ethical Leadership Commission which was launched by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) in 2017 and included senior representatives from across the education sector, including NGA’s chief executive Emma Knights. Its use has been pioneered by ASCL, the Chartered College of Teaching and NGA.

Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governance Association, said:

“Kindness and optimism were the two virtues most often mentioned by the pathfinders in our stories, and this work leaves me feeling optimistic for the future of the framework and more importantly for ethics and their discussion within school life. The framework has not been handed down to the sector from on high with an instruction to comply: it has been determined by leaders of sector organisations and brought to life by schools and trusts that want to explore and invest in ethical leadership. It was rewarding to hear the passion shining through from pathfinders who absolutely took the framework to their school’s and trust’s heart.”

Read the report