School leadership for equity: lessons from the literature

Sophie C. Ward, Carl Bagley, Jacky Lumby, Philip Woods, Tom Hamilton, Amanda Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)
294 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Responding to Thrupp's [2003. “The School Leadership Literature in Managerialist Times: Exploring the Problem of Textual Apologism.” School Leadership & Management: Formerly School Organisation 23 (2): 169] call for writers on school leadership to offer ‘analyses which provide more critical messages about social inequality and neoliberal and managerialist policies’ we use Foucault's [2000. “The Subject and Power.” In Michel Foucault: Power, edited by J. D. Faubion, 326–348. London: Penguin Books] theory of power to ask what lessons we might learn from the literature on school leadership for equity. We begin by offering a definition of neoliberalism; new managerialism; leadership and equity, with the aim of revealing the relationship between the macropolitical discourse of neoliberalism and the actions of school leaders in the micropolitical arena of schools. In so doing, we examine some of the literature on school leadership for equity that post-dates Thrupp's [2003. “The School Leadership Literature in Managerialist Times: Exploring the Problem of Textual Apologism.” School Leadership & Management: Formerly School Organisation 23 (2): 149–172] analysis, seeking evidence of critical engagement with/resistance to neoliberal policy. We identify three approaches to leadership for equity that have been used to enhance equity in schools internationally: (i) critical reflection; (ii) the cultivation of a ‘common vision’ of equity and (iii) ‘transforming dialogue’. We consider if such initiatives avoid the hegemonic trap of neoliberalism, which captures and disarms would be opponents of new managerial policy. We conclude by arguing that, in spite of the dominance of neoliberalism, head teachers have the power to speak up, and speak out, against social injustice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-346
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Volume19
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jun 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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