ASCL publishes principles for navigating the educational moral maze

09 March 2018

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has published a draft set of principles to support ethical leadership in education.

The principles have been drawn up by an Ethical Leadership Commission which was launched by ASCL last March and includes Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman, Chartered College of Teaching chief executive Dame Alison Peacock, and representatives from several education organisations and other bodies.

Carolyn Roberts, ASCL Honorary Secretary and headteacher of Thomas Tallis School in Greenwich, London, chaired the commission.

She said: “School leadership has always involved making difficult decisions. But in recent years schools have faced an ever-increasing range of expectations and performance targets. Decisions often have to be made under great pressure with competing demands in play.

“Members of ASCL felt that it would be helpful to have a clear set of ethical principles to help guide our own decision-making and to support us in challenging poor behaviour. No such framework currently exists to help us tackle tricky issues and we will be stronger if we can help each other in this way.

“The purpose of this exercise is not to point fingers, but to support one another in standing up for what is right, whatever the circumstances. Our commitment as school leaders is to serve the best interests of young people and our communities first, foremost and always, and these considerations are inviolable regardless of accountability pressures.”

Over the past 12 months, the Ethical Leadership Commission has met on six occasions, and its discussions have led to a draft Ethical Framework for Educational Leadership which is published today at ASCL’s Annual Conference in Birmingham.

ASCL will be consulting widely with members over the coming weeks to ask their views on the framework. As it develops we will disseminate the framework to our 19,000 members through our own communications and professional development programmes, and we will work with other organisations to ensure it is more widely known.

Further information is available in the Report of the Ethical Leadership Commission, which contains the Draft Ethical Framework, and which can be read here.

ASCL will be holding a panel session on ethical leadership at our annual conference on Saturday 10 March at 3.45pm. The panel includes former minister Lord Adonis, as well as Carolyn Roberts, and two members of the Ethical Leadership Commission: the Rev Nigel Genders, chief education officer of the Church of England, and Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governance Association.