Transformative and Ethical Leadership in Educational Settings

The unit focuses on developing understandings of transformative and ethical leadership in educational contexts. We will be thinking about the way that leaders and leadership have come to dominate how we think about and practice education and educational change. We will explore the historical processes through which education has been re-cultured and reorganized in line with particular understandings of leadership. We will explore different theories, concepts and explanations that critically engage with these histories and practices, and which provoke us to resist these liberalization trends and work in ways that maintain a more expansive and hopeful orientation of what education could be and is.

We will also explore leadership from more affirmative orientations that provide practical strategies for individuals and groups to come together to achieve positive goals. To do this we will look at forms of democratic and ethical approaches to leadership, and other accounts of what transformation might be.

Students will explore the transformative and ethical implications of leadership and its relationship with social justice through critical analysis of appropriate ethical and transformative leadership literature.  You will be expected to reflect on your own learning and how this has had an impact on your thinking, development, and approaches to leadership practice.

The assignment will offer students the opportunity to present a critical exploration of transformative and ethical leadership in educational settings using appropriate literature.  The precise themes that you choose to focus on, and the way you structure your writing are all your decision, but are likely to reflect your own contexts and interests.   It will also involve being reflective on your own educational leadership values, with a particular focus on transformative and ethical issues. You should describe what your values are, and you should also carefully explore why you hold these values, making appropriate reference to suitable literature from this unit.



  • Demonstrate an understanding of the different ethical and transformative leadership discourses.
  • Critically analyze the concept of transformative and ethical leadership and its contribution to social change and equality.
  • Critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship in areas relating to transformative and ethical leadership and apply them to their own professional contexts or interests.

Locate themselves, including their own orientation and values, in relation to the debates, and the complex and contested ways these relate to professional practice.

During this course we will be discussing leadership in terms of the various ways it has come to transform education but first we need to know what education has been and could be.


There are 3 core readings:

  1. Gray, P. & Chanoff, D. 1986. Democratic schooling: what happens to young people who have charge of their own education? American Journal of Education 94(2), 182-213 (online
  2. Seldon, A. 2010. 2010. An end to factory schools: an education manifesto 2010–2020. London: Centre for Policy Studies (pp10-35) (online
  3. Biesta, G. 2009. Good education in an age of measurement: on the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Educational, Assessment, Evaluation, Accountability21, 33–46 (online MMU library)
  4. Fielding, M. & Moss, P. (2010) Radical Education and the Common School: A democratic alternative, London: Routledge. Available online through the library: (READ CHAPTER ONE)



International handbook of educational leadership and social (in)justice

  • Book, edited by Ira Bogotch; Carolyn M. Shields ,2014

Feminist theories of social justice and educational leadership: Nancy Fraser and Iris Marion Young

Book, by Jill Blackmore, 2016, Great book if you are interested in exploring gender and educational leadership

Article by by Izhar Oplatka; Khalid Husny Arar 26/05/2016

Leadership for social justice and the characteristics of traditional societies: ponderings on the application of western-grounded models in International Journal of Leadership in Education

Educational leadership: culture and diversity, Book by Dimmock, Clive A. J; 2005

ARTICLE by Mike Bottery, 02/2006 : Educational leaders in a globalising world: a new set of priorities? in School Leadership & Management

An intellectual history of school leadership practice and research, Book by Helen M. Gunter, 2016

Transformative leadership in education: equitable and socially just change in an uncertain and complex world, Book by Carolyn M. Shields, 2018

Educational leadership: theorising professional practice in neoliberal times, Book, edited by Steven J. Courtney; Ruth McGinity; Helen Gunter 2018

  • ARTICLE by Marianne Coleman, 09/2012

Leadership and Diversity in Educational Management Administration & Leadership


Ethical Leadership

To achieve the grade we are looking for, look and follow accurately this step. Before submitting check if all this are in your paper.

Recognition of complexity is to the forefront and criticality is clearly evidenced

The student offers a perceptive and analytical account of their context in ways which select and argue for relevant features. These accounts are clearly seen and represented as data.  Where the work is addressing wider concerns a clear account of the derivation of these concerns is offered. Theoretical perspectives are addressed in ways which evidence clear understanding and enhance the range of practical possibilities. The work is written in such a way that the beneficial professional effect on the student and those they work with is tangible.

The student level of recognition of the key concepts in their accounts of educational experience, practices policies and issues is thoroughly comprehensive. They are able to argue for why a particular concept has greater significance than another.  They connect concepts to educational (and/or appropriate) theory in ways which demonstrate insight and ownership. Their deployment of theory is sophisticated and highly effective. They have some understanding of the provenance of the theories they deploy in ways which clearly relate to their understanding of the practical world.

The piece of work celebrates and relishes a complex theory practice relationship. They are able to reconcile conflicting viewpoints where appropriate while  recognizing and examining  contradictions. The work has clear implications for practice but recognizes that any such implications need to be prioritized  and ordered to be effective

The piece of work portrays research as a deeply contested area.  Notions of ‘truth and findings’  are approached with caution. Justifications and outcomes are themselves presented as complex, to be further debated.  The implications for future professional conduct are set out but seen as contingent and possibly  time-limited. The piece of work, therefore, has potential for further research which  is recognized by the writer.