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Excellence in school leadership about ethics

Excellence in school leadership about ethics

In a modern school the principal is bombarded with Catch 22-style issues. The two big ones, identified in a three-year Australian research project, centre on student discipline and poorly performing staff. Yet most school leaders struggle to deal with these issues, according to prominent Australian educator and researcher in school leadership, Patrick Duignan.

Professor Duignan, appearing in five New Zealand centres this month as the guest of the University of Auckland’s School Leadership Centre, says that the current competency-based training for school leaders is not successfully preparing principals for complex ethical challenges.

Instead the preparation of principals needs to focus on developing traits of common sense and judgement and how to share leadership successfully.

“It is not budgeting, mission statements or strategic plans that keep school leaders awake at night, but issues to do with people, and these involve values and ethics. What is needed is better preparation of school leaders to develop all-round capable human beings who know themselves and their own values.”

Professor Duignan is Foundation Chair in Educational Leadership and Director of Flagship for Creative and Authentic Leadership at Australian Catholic University National. He comes to New Zealand to deliver seminars in Auckland, Rotorua, Hastings, Wellington and Dunedin as the first scholar in the inaugural Distinguished National Travelling Scholar, a programme initiated by the School Leadership Centre in partnership with Microsoft, with the support of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders.

At seminars designed for school principals and other leaders, Professor Duignan will present a framework for tackling ethical challenges, and discuss the characteristics and conditions for successful school leadership.

Education systems around the world are talking about shared leadership, he says. “The days of the heroic leader – the school principal who calls all the shots – are numbered. Leadership at all levels of the system is now required to make further progress in teaching and learning. And the leaders waiting in line – the Generation Xers - don’t like the time-served model, they want responsibility now.”

Professor Duignan says there are two important things schools can do to start improving the leadership in their schools for teaching and learning success: really develop their understanding of their students so as to accommodate the vastly different perspective of young people on the world compared to 20 years ago; and, have real conversations in schools that involve teachers at all levels, about how to take education forward.

Seminars by Professor Patrick Duignan, 2005 inaugural Distinguished National Travelling Scholar. Seminar One: Leading schools in challenging times. Auckland Thursday 18 August; Rotorua Friday 19 August Seminar Two: Authentic leadership: Building shared leadership to support teaching and learning. Hastings Monday 22 August; Wellington Tuesday 23 August; Dunedin Wednesday 24 August.


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