At this year's Annual Conference, ASCL launched a year-long project on Ethical Leadership in Education - you can read more about the background to this in Carolyn Roberts' article Shared Values in issue 96 of Leader magazine.
This is the final post in a series of eight blogs, where Carolyn adds further context to the subject and poses questions relating to this proposed new commission.
What makes for stability and trust?
Or: thinking time
In the film of Schindler’s List there’s a moment when the ghetto Jews reflect on what their lives have become. “No-one came to kill me today”, is the basic measurement, but one goes further than that: “Today I had time to organize a thought.”
Believe me, I’m not comparing our lives with theirs. It was the prioritising of structured thought under terrible circumstances that struck me most powerfully when first I saw the film 24 years ago. I’ve lived among academics, and recognise desperation for thinking time when I see it.
For myself, with fewer cells to employ, I organised this thought on a train back from June’s ASCL Council. It centres around four women: one I’ve met, one I’ve heard, one who needs help and one who appears immortal.
First, Amanda Spielman, HMCI, whose Wellington speech did two wonderful things. It talked about strength and stability (yes, yes, more later), using OFSTED’s data and research for good, the value of knowledge, the primacy of management over hero-heading and our commission.
Second, Justine Greening. Unchained from the grammar project, there’s a fighting chance that she might be the comprehensively educated, audit-focused Secretary of State we hoped for.
Third, Theresa May. As the Tory grandees look over their glasses at our troubled PM they might offer words of encouragement. Less is more, Ma’am, don’t mention strength and stability for a bit, eh?
Fourth, Her Majesty the Queen, who hardly ever says anything, but said it at Grenfell.
Interestingly, the Queen’s Speech (which we studied closely at ASCL Council) featured an almost invisible programme for education. However, less actually is more here and it may be a wonderful moment. HMCI is sensible, intelligent and committed to research (so is the Chief Regulator at OFQUAL). The Secretary of State was educated at a comprehensive school, Number 10’s policy wonks have left the building and the Queen just carries on.
Think, organise, build foundations
The challenge for us is to take our place in that longed-for space. We’re surrounded by worried adults and bewildered children, battered by the effect of self-serving politics and longing for stability in a time of danger. We’ve always been community leaders but now we need to upgrade another part of our work.
We’re public intellectuals so it’s time to think, to organize our thoughts about what we think our schools are for and how to generate and serve an educated citizenry. That's what our commission is investigating: the values that underpin our communal endeavour.
We need to organise our national educational thoughts about values and behaviour and how we model a better world in our schools based on learning and kindness. We need to talk clearly about what we stand for so we never lose public confidence, and no government whim or incentive can derail our purpose.
We've come a long way in a short time this year and stability and trust are within reach. With a bit of organised thought, we can lay solid and common foundations that show our young people how to change the world for the better. Join the conversation!
In 2018, ASCL would like to be able to propose a Code of Ethics for Education so that together, we’ll be able to talk to the public clearly about the ethics we want to pass on to our young people.
In order to achieve this, we need your help. If you would like to be involved in any way, or if you would like to share your views on this important issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org