ASCL Ethical Leadership Commission

“The nation trusts us to form young people into the best that they can be. The public expects us to know what kind of example we should set them, but do we? How do we know what’s right or wrong?”
Carolyn Roberts, Commission Chair, April 2017

ASCL's year-long project on ethical leadership in education was launched at our Annual Conference in March, 2017.

The Ethical Leadership Commission (ELC) included senior representatives across the education sector and its final report, Navigating the educational moral maze, was launched at a summit at the Institute of Education in London in January 2019. 

The ELC 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 (Framework) provides the profession with principles to support leaders in their decision-making and in calling out unethical behaviour.

The report sets out how the Framework will now be embedded across the school and college system:

  • pathfinder project has been launched through the National Governance Association (NGA) which invites school leaders to sign up to the Framework and provides training resources about how to build its values and virtues into working practices. The project will be promoted through the NGA, ASCL and Chartered College of Teaching (CCT) websites.

  • The Framework will be embedded in leadership and governance programmes developed by the organisations involved in the commission and hopefully, over time, throughout the teacher and leadership development landscape. 

  • An ethics forum will be established at the CCT to discuss and disseminate thinking about ethical issues in education leadership. 

Ethical leadership as part of everyday decision-making

We want the language of values and virtues to be part of everyday decision-making because:

  • schools and colleges are where society looks after its young until they are old enough to assume the mantle of adult responsibility

  • school and college leaders have to be diligent and trusted professionals and public servants 

  • every decision and judgement school and college leaders make sets an example to children and should promote ethical behaviour in succeeding generations: how we do things is as important as what we do? 

  • in a landscape where schools and colleges are of many different sorts and responsible to many different people, society must be able to rely on thousands of individual decision-making leaders to do the right thing, themselves.  

If you have any comments or queries regarding the ELC, please contact Carolyn Roberts at codeofethics@ascl.org.uk