1st Edition

Leadership, Ethics and Schooling for Social Justice

By Richard Niesche, Amanda Keddie Copyright 2016

    Issues of social justice and equity in the field of educational leadership have become more salient in recent years. The unprecedented diversity, uncertainty and rapid social change of the contemporary global era are generating new and unfamiliar equity questions and challenges for schools and their leaders. In order to understand the moral and ethical complexity of work undertaken in the name of social justice and equity in diverse contexts, this book uses a range of different theoretical tools from the work of Michel Foucault. Rather than a prescriptive, best practice approach to leadership and social justice, this book draws on Foucault’s four-fold ethical framework, and specifically, the notions of advocacy, truth-telling and counter-conduct to critically examine the leadership work undertaken in case studies in schools in Australia and England.

    Our approach makes transparent the ethical work that leaders in these contexts conduct on themselves towards creating schools that can address the equity challenges of the present climate. It illuminates and enables critical analysis of the moral imperatives shaping the equity work of school leaders and, in particular, the possibilities for transformative leadership that can work to create schools and school systems that are more socially just.

    Overall, the book’s key aims are to:

    • Provide an innovative and comprehensive theorising of leadership for social justice in contemporary times;
    • Explicate the utility of key elements of Foucault’s theorising of the ethical self to the domain of educational leadership; and
    • Provide significant practical insight into the social justice possibilities of school leadership in contemporary times through two in depth case studies


    1. Introduction  2.Contexts of educational leadership and social justice  3. Theoretical tools  4. Ridgeway State High School: Articulating a telos of social justice  5. Advocacy, truth telling and counter conduct as practices of socially just leadership  6. The Clementine-led alliance: Articulating a telos of social justice  7. Advocacy, truth-telling and counter-conduct as practices of socially just leadership  8. Conclusion: Leadership, ethics and schooling for social justice


    Richard Niesche is a senior lecturer in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

    Amanda Keddie is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Education at the University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia.