Leadership and Diversity: Challenging Theory and Practice in Education


Jacky Lumby & Marianne Coleman

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    Notes on the Authors

    Jacky Lumby

    Jacky Lumby is Professor of Education at the University of Southampton. She has taught and led in a range of educational settings, including secondary schools, community and further education. She has researched and published widely on leadership and management in schools and colleges in the UK and internationally.

    Marianne Coleman

    Marianne Coleman is a Reader in Educational Leadership and Management at the Institute of Education, University of London. Her career has been in education, mainly teaching in schools and universities. Her research is in the area of educational leadership and management, with a particular interest in women in educational leadership.

    Series Editor's Foreword

    This series of books recognises that leadership in education in the twenty-first century has an increasingly moral dimension. As education is seen more and more as being central to the transformation of society, its leaders have an onerous responsibility in their roles and within their organisations to address issues that affect the development of greater social justice. Whilst education is, fortunately, no longer seen as the panacea for all of a nation's problems, it remains central to the progress of most countries, both developed and developing, in their attempts to ensure their economic and social futures.

    For those in education, leadership for social justice involves confronting major issues, such as those of equity, diversity and inclusion, in stimulating the changes needed for the embedding of social justice. What educational leaders need to reflect on, what actions they need to take, how they should be developed and how education should link and work with other disciplines and services are all important components in the social justice agenda.

    This book, by Jacky Lumby and Marianne Coleman, both of whom are noted and experienced writers and researchers, focuses on leadership for diversity and offers a major challenge for those researching and practising in this field. The authors confront the complexities inherent in the term ‘diversity’ and, through a detailed consideration of current research and literature, show the inadequacy of how leadership in education has conceptualised it to date.

    Drawing on socio-biological and psychological theory, as well as educational, they explore these complexities and show how easy it is for organisations, often unintentionally, to obstruct the ways of grasping the real considerations involved in acknowledging ‘equity in difference’. Believing that diversity is about people's strengths and their differences, they argue that the context is now right for concern about, for example, equal opportunities and feminism, to be encompassed within the wider notion of diversity.

    As the concepts and the problems are complex, so the possible solutions are equally so, and the authors readily concede that no simple answers exist. However, the work of this book is grounded in a belief that there is cause for optimism, and the authors offer the reader ideas for action which may help to promote diversity by and for educational leaders. This book breaks new ground and will offer profound challenges for all those involved in any capacity in the field of educational leadership. Leaders who are mindful of the issues raised in this book and who are committed to action for change will find the book an invaluable resource to help them in their quest to embed and institutionalise the way in which difference is valued.

    DavidMiddlewood Series Editor


    This volume is part of a series that aims to contribute to social justice through the transformation of education. It focuses on a key aspect of leadership in education in our increasingly pluralist communities: diversity. Its premise is that the most significant task of educational leadership is to support the development of learners and staff so that all can live lives they value in dignity.

    The book originated in a growing perception that though diversity was becoming ever more present in discussion of educational leadership, the concept remains stubbornly peripheral in the main body of literature and in development programmes for leadership. The intention was to undertake a journey to better understand why this was so. We wished to call on our own research and on a wide body of literature, including that from beyond educational leadership. This we hoped would offer a broad range of knowledge and understanding to enrich our engagement with diversity and leadership. The journey has proved intellectually stimulating and emotionally challenging. Our hope is that something of this is communicated to readers as they share the journey. Ultimately our aim was not just to extend our own capacity and that of leaders, but thereby to effect change. There is, of course, a plethora of evidence that change is needed in society, in public services and in education. Whether it is, for example, national reviews following tragic events fuelled by racism, statistics showing the inequality in pay for men and women, or media reflections of tensions between those of different faiths, or sexual orientations, the volatility of relations between individuals and groups is ubiquitously evident. Education is at the heart of hope for change, for it is in our schools, colleges and universities above all that society has the right to expect a model of social justice to be embedded and to be renewed for each generation.

    Our focus is on leaders and leadership, not because we do not believe that diversity raises extremely important issues in relation to all staff and to learners. Rather, we hope that by focusing on leadership we can firstly explore issues in some depth and secondly support current and future leaders to undertake their critical role in working for diversity, equality and inclusion in educational organisations.

    The journey undertaken is fraught with difficulties, not least that of language. Even the title of the book is problematic, as the term ‘diversity’ instantly signifies particular and very different issues to individuals. It is used in multiple ways, but increasingly at the time of writing as synonymous with minority ethnicity. Our intention is to focus on diversity in a much broader sense; that is, the rich plurality of characteristics found in staff within education. This reflects the experience of leaders, who in their work generally relate to individuals, the people who form the staff of their organisation, each of whom may have multiple identities which shift over time. They do not primarily respond to groups such as ethnic minorities or to women or to those with disabilities or of minority sexual orientation.

    The structure of the volume reflects the intellectual journey undertaken. We move from exploring the pressures and incentives to consider diversity to the national and organisational action this has evoked and the psychological frameworks for understanding individual response. We focus on the contribution of feminists and those engaged with minority ethnicity to consider whether single or multiple perspectives are helpful. We then move on to formulate aims for educational leaders. Finally, we consider what change might be needed in both the theory and practice of leadership. Chapters 13, 6, 7 and 9 were written by Jacky Lumby. Marianne Coleman wrote Chapters 4, 5 and 8. Both of us commented fully on drafts of all chapters.

    The book is international in perspective in that it draws on literature from many countries throughout the globe. However, it does not and could not adequately reflect the abundant variation in context, issues and ethical/spiritual stance. For example, we are aware that the premise that equality and inclusion are desirable is not necessarily shared in all societies. We are particularly aware that the degree of discrimination and the detriment which follows is qualitatively different in some parts of the world and we have not been able to encompass such issues as they deserve. The volume largely reflects the orientation of Anglophone countries and we acknowledge this. Very many books are needed to address the full range of relevant issues throughout the world. This one volume makes a contribution but cannot encompass all that it would be desirable to address.

    We would like to thank a number of people for their help. Marianne Lagrange at Sage was a supportive commissioning editor. Colleagues at the University of Lincoln and the London Institute of Education have over time taught us much. Alma Harris, Marlene Morrison, Krishan Sood and Daniel Muijs worked on the ‘Leading Learning’ research project, which provides some of the data used in the volume. David Middlewood and Ann Briggs made helpful comments on a draft of Chapter 6. We also pay tribute to each other, for determination to stick to the task and to work through differences in perspective. The journey has been demanding but exhilarating, and we hope that in response readers will be stimulated to reflection and to action in this most crucial endeavour of education.

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