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Between 'Bastard' and 'Wicked' leadership? School leadership and the emerging policies of the UK Coalition Government

Wright, Nigel



Barker argues that in England under New Labour, school leaders and teachers have been 'bastardised' and suggests that the situation in 2010, with a general election afforded an opportunity in education policy for the 'pendulum to swing'. In this article, the key points about 'bastard Leadership' are briefly summarised. The article then develops a view of schools as sites of complexity and 'wickedity' as an alternative to the linear reductionist approaches of managerialists. These two perspectives present the extremes of a spectrum against which the trajectory of school leadership can be viewed as it emerges from the New Labour years and is now being developed by the Coalition Government. Evidence from ministerial speeches and the Coalition Government's flagship White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, are used to examine key issues of freedom and trust, reducing bureaucracy and increasing autonomy for schools as ways of exploring the extent to which the new government's policies on school leadership are, or are not, moving away from those of their New Labour predecessors.


Wright, N. (2011). Between 'Bastard' and 'Wicked' leadership? School leadership and the emerging policies of the UK Coalition Government. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 43(4), 345-362.

Acceptance Date May 30, 2011
Online Publication Date Nov 9, 2011
Publication Date 2011-11
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Publicly Available Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Journal of educational administration and history
Print ISSN 0022-0620
Electronic ISSN 1478-7431
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 4
Pages 345-362
Keywords Sociology and Political Science; Education
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Educational Administration and History on 9 Nov 2011, available online:


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