Ethical leadership in an age of evaluation: implications for whole—school well-being
McNamara, Gerry and O'Hara, Joe (2009) Ethical leadership in an age of evaluation: implications for whole—school well-being. In: De Souza, Marian and Francis, L.J. and O'Higgins-Norman, James and Scott, D.G., (eds.) The International Handbook on Education for Spirituality, Care and Wellbeing. International Handbooks of Spirituality and Education, 3 . Springer, Heidelberg, pp. 943-960. ISBN 978-1-4020-90180-9
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The evaluation and inspection of many public services, including education, has become increasingly common in most countries in the developed world (McNamara & O’Hara, 2004; MacBeath & McGlynn, 2002). There are various reasons why this may be the case. It can be argued that it is, on the one hand, part of the movement towards low trust policies derived from the ideology of neo-liberalism which seeks to apply the values of the market to the public sector. On the other hand, it can be argued that increased evaluation is a necessary and defensible component of democratic accountability, responsibility and transparency (O’Neill, 2002). The research reported here sets out to explore the idea of a personal vision or core of ethics as being central to educational leadership, through in-depth interviews with a number of school leaders. The chapter begins by briefly placing educational leadership in the modern context, characterised by the paradox of apparently greater decentralisation of responsibility to schools being in fact coupled with a further centralisation of actual power and greatly increased surveillance of performance (Neave, 1998). Relevant developments internationally, and then specifically in the context of Ireland, are described. It is suggested that in Ireland the modern educational context may indeed be creating difficult ethical and moral dilemmas for leaders to face. To see if this is so in practice, five in-depth interviews with school principals are reported. The evidence arising from these interviews indicates that school leaders do feel guided by a strong moral or ethical compass.
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