Framework for ethical leadership in education

Summer 2019

The Ethical Leadership Commission was established because of concerns expressed by ASCL members and others about the lack of guiding principles for ethical leadership in education. The resulting Framework for Ethical Leadership in Education provides the profession with the following principles to support leaders in their decision-making and in calling out unethical behaviour:

1. Selflessness: School and college leaders should act solely in the interest of children and young people.

2. Integrity:  School 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 must declare and resolve openly any perceived conflict of interest and relationships.

3. Objectivity:  School 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 good of children and young people.

 4. Accountability: School 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. Openness: School and college leaders should expect to act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from scrutiny unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

6. Honesty: School and college leaders should be truthful.

7. Leadership: School 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 wherever it occurs. Leaders include both those who are paid to lead schools and colleges and those who volunteer to govern them.

Schools 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 virtues:  

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 and colleges with propriety and good sense.

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

D. Justice: Leaders are fair and work for the good of all 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.


Framework for ethical leadership in education


Find out more at www.ascl.org.uk/EthicalLeadership

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