To what extent can headteachers be held to account in the practice of social justice leadership?

Deirdre Torrance, Christine Forde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Internationally, leadership for social justice is gaining prominence as a global travelling theme. This article draws from the Scottish contribution to the International School Leadership Development Network (ISLDN) social justice strand and presents a case study of a relatively small education system similar in size to that of New Zealand, to explore one system’s policy expectations and the practice realities of headteachers (principals) seeking to address issues around social justice. Scottish policy rhetoric places responsibility with headteachers to ensure socially just practices within their schools. However, those headteachers are working in schools located within unjust local, national and international contexts. The article explores briefly the emerging theoretical analyses of social justice and leadership. It then identifies the policy expectations, including those within the revised professional standards for headteachers in Scotland. The main focus is on the headteachers’ perspectives of factors that help and hinder their practice of leadership for social justice. Macro systems-level data is used to contextualise equity and outcomes issues that headteachers are working to address. In the analysis of the dislocation between policy and reality, the article asks, ‘to what extent can headteachers be held to account in the practice of social justice leadership?’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-91
JournalJournal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice
Volume30
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2015

Keywords

  • leadership
  • values
  • social justice
  • professional standards

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