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Passing on the reins of responsibility? Comparing school principals’ values and practices in a ‘wicked’ reality

Wright, Nigel; Bottery, Mike


Nigel Wright

Mike Bottery


This study stemmed from concerns about school leaders' responses to the current global environmental situation. The issue was tack- led by asking what priority they gave to envi- ronmental issues in their schools by examining their perceptions about a range of educational values and priorities, based upon ve educa- tional codes. A questionnaire was therefore designed which asked principals and head- teachers to place their ratings in three differ- ent categories: (a) how they perceived govern- ments' priority in these areas; (b) how highly they prioritised them in practice, and (c) how highly they themselves valued these. The re- sults from England, Poland and Finland suggest that principals in these countries do value envi- ronmental issues, but that there is considerable variation in the level of approval of different environmental concerns. The results also sug- gest that they believe that their governments hold similar values, though in all cases these principals held these beliefs more strongly than their governments. However, and more broad- ly, none of the ideological codes was rejected, though there were interesting differences in the support for different statements within each code. The overall picture that emerged was one of pragmatic individuals whose core belief was one of passing on the ‘reins of responsibility' to the next generation. Finally, the results raise the question, despite a general approval of envi- ronmental values, of whether judgements were suf ciently informed to facilitate the transfer of such responsibility at a level commensurate with environmental problems currently developing.


Wright, N., & Bottery, M. (2014). Passing on the reins of responsibility? Comparing school principals’ values and practices in a ‘wicked’ reality. Contemporary educational leadership, 1(4), 68-89

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2014
Deposit Date Jun 10, 2019
Print ISSN 2391-4572
Publisher Uniwersytet Jagielloński
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 4
Pages 68-89
Public URL
Publisher URL