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A Collective Ethic of Responsibility


This article is Part 10 of an 11 part series of reflections on Patrick Duignan's book, "Educational Leadership".


A review of literature indicates that there are concerns in a number of countries that the role of principal, conceived for the needs of the past, is no longer relevant or effective to deal with the complex challenges schools are facing in the 21st century (Duignan, 2012, p. 121).


Ponte et al (2008) explain that as the expectations of what schools should achieve have changed dramatically over the years, countries need to develop new forms of school leadership better suited to the current and future educational environments (Duignan, 2012, p. 1). This idea is supported by a body of research that claims ‘there is a growing belief that single person leadership is insufficient when it comes to leading teaching and learning in a complex organisation.’ (Duignan, 2012, p118)


Duignan believes that there is a need for all educators in formal leadership positions to share leadership responsibilities with others by building a sustainable, collective ethic of responsibility (Patrick Duignan 2012). This begins by creating school cultures where every stakeholder feels a deep moral and ethical responsibility for the quality and effectiveness of the overall leadership of the learning agenda and is willing to promote and support a collective vision to achieve it (Duignan, 2012, 131-132). 


While it is commonly supported by research that school leaders can contribute to improved student learning by shaping the conditions and climate in which teaching and learning occurs, (Marzano 2005, Dinham 2009) the call here is for a different kind of distributed leadership: a shared, collaborative and distributed leadership that involves the principal as an authentic leader who is building a culture of collective efficacy and professional responsibility for quality learning and teaching with a commitment to openness, collaboration, participation and networking in the context of a learning community.


The benefits of this model are supported by the work of Hargreaves and Fink (2006) who claim that a greater distribution of leadership activities among teachers has a positive influence on teacher effectiveness, student engagement and student outcomes when leadership sources are distributed throughout the school community. They claim that distributing leadership within and across schools isn’t just common sense; it is the morally responsible thing to do’. (Duignan, 2012, p. 125) 


Duignan says this vision has endless potential and immensity of what can happen when collaboration and collective efficacy is driven by a passion for students and their learning, as well as from their pride in being professional teachers and educational leaders (Duignan).


Publication Bibliography

Duignan, P (Unpublished). Leadership Presence and Influence Relationships: building collective efficacy and professional responsibility for quality learning and teaching in schools.

Duignan, P. (2012). Educational Leadership (2nd ed). Melbourne, NSW: Cambridge University Press.


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