Practical Wisdom and the Good School Leader

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


What qualities distinguish the very best school leaders from others? An investigation of ten ‘outstanding’ school leaders, or ‘Principled Principals’, conducted by Gold and others (2003) offers some indications. These practitioners were both ‘good at’ school leadership, fulfilling the criteria of success associated with inspection by OFSTED, as well as being ‘good’. By this, I mean that their practice was characterised by – broadly speaking – ‘social democratic’ values, morally appropriate to the particular socio-political context in which it was situated. However, significant theoretical difficulties with this investigation have been highlighted (e.g. Wright, 2003). In addition, the notion of school leadership as a ‘moral art’ (Hodgkinson, 1991, 1983, 1978) which underpins the ‘Principled Principals’ study is problematic. I propose a second investigation be conducted, along similar lines to the first but based instead on the notion of ‘professional judgement’. Philosophers of education (e.g. Carr, 2007, Dunne, 1993, McLaughlin, 1999) have already suggested that this is what distinguishes the practice of very good school teachers from others and I suggest this be extended to include school leadership.
Translated title of the contribution‘Practical Wisdom and the Good School Leader’
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnnual Conference of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, New College Oxford
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Medium/genre: Paper
Conference Organiser: PESGB


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