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Longstanding challenges, new contexts: leadership for equality

By Jacky Lumby

Abstract

'Nothing is different and everything's changed', runs a line from a Paul Simon song. Education might be characterised in the same way. Leaders face challenges which are both longstanding and shaped afresh by new contexts. Looking across schools worldwide, despite decades of policy change which have transformed so many aspects of the context in which leaders work, education still largely reproduces rather than transforms societies. Notwithstanding some gains over the twentieth century in access to and achievement in education, in the first quarter of the twenty-first century significant inequality persists related to learners' socioeconomic class, gender and race. Poverty still defines the educational experience of many children in the Commonwealth and beyond. A core aim of education, that is, enabling individuals to secure a place in the economy, is doubtful for increasing numbers of young people on all continents as global systems rapidly redistribute economic strength and jobs internationally. <br/><br/>In this context the presentation explores how leaders might challenge and change as well as sustain education. It considers how all those in leadership roles could conceive their role in leading schools and colleges in profoundly unequal societies. It argues that greater equality is key at all levels, organisational, community and national, and that it is strongly related to the wellbeing of all, the economically advantaged as well as the disadvantaged, developed as well as less-developed economies. It analyses how leaders have adopted thick and thin resistance to the strong shaping force of national policies and market pressures. It considers how leaders find leverage for change; what structural and cultural strategies have been adopted in schools and colleges and how they have perpetuated, exacerbated or disturbed the current relationship between disadvantage in background and disadvantage in educational outcome. Setting aside both pessimistic determinism that nothing can be changed and naive optimism that the transformation of society through education is imminent, the presentation looks forward to explore how leaders of education and those who support them have power to influence both individuals and systems and can contribute to greater equality for their learners and society.<br/

Topics: L1
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:346151
Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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