The Challenges of Educational Leadership: Values in a Globalized Age


Mike Bottery

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  • Leading Teachers, Leading Schools

    Series Editor: Alma Harris, Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Warwick

    This series of cutting-edge books on current issues in teaching and school improvement aims to deal with the practical realities of leading and improving schools and classrooms, but through the conceptual and theoretical lenses of teacher development, leadership practice and learning approaches. Each title therefore shows what its subject means for school and classroom improvement.

    This series is for teachers, headteachers and all those involved in school and classroom improvement. It is also intended to support Professional Development Opportunities, NCSL courses and MEd/EdD work.

    Titles include:

    Democratic Leadership in Education

    Peter Woods (2004)

    Creating the Emotionally Intelligent School

    Belinda M. Harris (2004)

    The Challenges of Educational Leadership

    Mike Bottery (2004)

    Teacher Inquiry for School Improvement

    Judy Durrant and Gary Holden (forthcoming in 2005)

    Leadership for Mortals

    Dean Fink (forthcoming in 2005)


    View Copyright Page


    I have been fortunate to have many friends and colleagues who have helped during the writing of this book. In particular, I would like to single out Chris Sink, Nigel Wright, Derek Webster, Julian Stern and Derek Colquhoun.

    I would also like to thank Cambridge Journal of Education, Educational Management and Administration, School Leadership and Management, and the International Journal of Children's Spirituality, for permission to use materials previously published in those journals.

    Finally, and as always, my love and thanks to Jill, Christopher and Sarah, for all their support, and for being who they are.


    And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

    Matthew, verse 14.


    Leadership is back in fashion. Across many western countries there has been a renewed emphasis upon improving leadership capacity and capability in the drive towards higher educational performance and standards. Governments around the world are involved in the business of educational reform and are placing a great deal of emphasis on improving the quality of leadership. Even though there are few certainties about the ability of educational policy to secure higher performance from the educational system, the arguments for investment in education, and particularly educational leadership, remain powerful and compelling.

    While the education challenges are considerable and the route to reform is complex, the potential of leadership to influence pupil and school performance remains unequivocal. It has been consistently argued that the quality of headship matters in determining the motivation of teachers and the quality of teaching which takes place in the classroom (Hargreaves, 2003; Crowther, 2000; Day et al., 2000; Fullan, 2001). The importance of leadership in securing sustainable, school improvement has been demonstrated in both research and practice (Harris, 2002; Hopkins, 2001). Consequently, from a policy maker's perspective, school leaders are viewed as holding the key to resolving a number of the problems currently facing schools. This has led to a major investment in the preparation and development of school leaders across many countries and has proved a main impetus for the establishment of the 1National College for School Leadership in England.

    Clearly, there is some basis for optimism. The research evidence shows that effective leaders exert a powerful influence on the effectiveness of the school and the achievement of students (Wallace, 2002; Waters et al., 2004). But there is also need for caution. Although the international research base on leadership is vast, the evidential base is very diverse and the nature of studies varies considerably. Yet, there are relatively few studies that have established any direct causal links between leadership and improved student performance (Hallinger and Heck, 1996).

    1The National College for School Leadership is located at Nottingham University.

    This new series focuses predominantly upon the relationship between leadership and learning. It also provides new and alternative perspectives on leadership which offer a direct challenge to the current orthodoxies of school leadership that persist, prevail and still dominate contemporary thinking. This book by Mike Bottery really does trail blaze the message that there are different ways of conceptualizing what leadership is, and should be, within a global society. In an informed but incisive way this book begins to dissect and dismantle some of the prevailing views about leadership, arguing that educational leaders need to engage with the wider, global influences that affect schools and schooling. The ‘socio-cultural context’, says Bottery, needs to embrace far more than the school, the district or even the educational system.

    This book considers the supra-educational pressures on schools and locates them at a global, cultural and national level. It critiques educational leadership arguing that it is simultaneously and paradoxically about control and fragmentation. The dualism of centre versus periphery is explored in some depth along with the important but often sidelined issues of trust, meaning and identity within the current educational context and climate. Bottery rightfully relocates these at the heart of educational change, development and reform. The book argues that the main challenge for educational leaders is to respond in a meaningful and authentic way to these issues and in so doing develop new meanings and understandings about their role. It also argues for an alternative model of educational leader who is not only an ethical dialectician who works from a value base with educational vision but who also has considerable political and pragmatic awareness. Such leaders have an internal moral compass which drives their relationships with others and ensures they rarely stray from an agenda focused on learners and learning.

    As the first book in a new series, Mike Bottery has provided a rare balance of challenge, critique and pragmatism. It is unlikely that this book will be read and forgotten. In the contemporary climate of designer leadership, lowest common denominator competences and de-contextualized leadership approaches, Mike Bottery has reminded us of the global horizon and the professional, moral and ethical responsibilities of those who lead within our schools. For this alone, The Challenges of Educational Leadership: Values in A Globalized Age should be welcomed.

    Alma Harris (Series Editor)

    About the Author

    Mike Bottery is Professor of Education and Director of Research Degrees in the Centre for Educational Studies at the University of Hull. He has been Visiting Professor at the Universities of Saskatchewan and Seattle Pacific, and Noted Scholar at the University of British Columbia. Chair of the Standing Conference for Research into Education, Leadership and Management 2004–5, this is his seventh book.

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