University Of Tasmania

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School leaders leading: Professional responsibility not accountability as the key focus

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 08:09 authored by Cranston, N
The last decade or so has seen an emerging literature supporting the position that school leaders and school leadership are important. This article argues, however, that recent developments in the area of school leadership have led to an orthodoxy that needs to be challenged and tested. It is an orthodoxy that has been driven essentially by those outside the school leadership profession and is one constrained by external accountability demands. The arguments here are that school leaders should be the ones driving a critical examination of their profession whereby the shackles of accountability on them are replaced by a new liberating professionalism for school leaders framed around notions of professional responsibility. To this end, three propositions are considered to stimulate debate among the school leadership profession. The first is that we need to frame school leadership by critically examining the question: school leadership for what and about what? Secondly, we need to shift the debate about school leadership from one dominated by accountability to one grounded in notions of professional responsibility. And finally, that the profession needs to be leading the debates and setting the agendas about school leadership, not simply responding and reacting to externally determined agendas.


Publication title

Educational Management, Administration & Leadership








Faculty of Education


Sage Publications Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright The Author 2012

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Management, resources and leadership