Two weeks after we were all glued to our television screens watching the terrifying scenes of the Capitol riots in Washington I was filled with hope and optimism watching the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. Whilst we live through the unprecedented months of the impact of COVID-19, a period that will feature in the history books of future generations, we are witness to another significant chapter in those same history books.
“…lead, not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.”
President Joe Biden, inauguration speech, 20th January 2021
On the same day as the presidential inauguration we explored the concept of ethical leadership with the aspiring Headteacher group. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) announced a commission on ethical leadership in education at their annual conference in March 2017. The commission included senior representatives across the education sector and its final report, Navigating the educational moral maze, was launched at a summit in London in January 2019. This report seeks to lay the foundations for future thought and action which will help school and college leaders in all settings tackle the twin challenges of our calling:
How well do we fulfil our roles as trusted educators?
What kind of role models are we for the children in our care?
The commission developed the Framework for Ethical Leadership in Education, which builds on the Nolan Principles of Public Service.
Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty, Leadership
Further to this, schools and colleges serve children and young people and help them grow into fulfilled and valued citizens. As role models for the young, how we behave as leaders is as important as what we do. Leaders should show Leadership through the following personal characteristics or virtues:
Trust| leaders are trustworthy and reliable.
Wisdom| leaders use experience, knowledge and insight.
Kindness| leaders demonstrate respect, generosity of spirit, understanding and good temper.
Justice| leaders are fair and work for the good of all children.
Service| leaders are conscientious and dutiful.
Courage| leaders work courageously in the best interests of children and young people.
Optimism| leaders are positive and encouraging.
“We cannot wait for great visions from ‘great’ people, for they are in short supply at the end of history. It is up to us to light our small fires in the darkness.”
Charles Handy, ‘The Empty Raincoat’
“We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, “how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?”, now we assert, “how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?” We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation.
Because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain. If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children's birth right.”
Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb
Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp9pyMqnBzk to see Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate, deliver the full poem.