Breakout Session 2 - 16th September at 1:55 - 2:35

Decolonising approach to school leadership: Possibilities and contestations

Presenter/s: Ann Lopez
Type: Research paper
Keywords: School Leadership, Decolonization, Leadership Development
Room: Ngā Purapura


Research has shown that school leadership next to teaching is an important ingredient in student learning outcomes. School leaders play an important role in supporting knowledge and commitments necessary to create lasting societal change that benefits all members of society through education and schooling. School leaders, particularly those in formal roles are integral in supporting changes in education and schooling that address equities in teaching, leading, and learning. While leadership theories abound, there have been calls for approaches to school leadership grounded in local contexts and drawing on local knowledges.

Drawing on qualitative research conducted with elementary and secondary school leaders in formal administrative roles in four countries impacted by colonization – Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, and Zambia this paper focuses on the possibilities and contestations of a decolonizing approach to school leadership. While there were convergences and divergences of approaches based on context the following overarching themes emerged with regards to decolonizing praxis: 1) persistence of colonial policies and practices within educational leadership; 2) need for school leaders to connect with community; 3) impact of leadership development on praxis; and 4) need for leadership epistemologies, theorising, praxis grounded in local contexts. A framework for a decolonizing approach to school leadership that emerged from analysis will be shared. The findings of this research have the potential to inform policy making and decisions on relevant leadership and professional development for school leaders in economically emerging contexts.


Ann Lopez

Dr. Lopez is a Jamaican born professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She is Director Centre for Leadership and Diversity and Co-Director Centre for Black Studies in Education. Her research interests include school leadership theorizing and praxis, decoloniality, decolonizing educational leadership, culturally responsive and socially just leadership. Dr. Lopez has published a number of articles, books and book chapters, her most resent entitled “Decolonizing Educational Leadership: Alternative Approaches for Leading Schools”.

Dr. Lucy Attom is a Professor of in the Department of Social Studies Education, University of Education, Winneba Ghana. Dr. Attom’s research interests include school leadership in communities, gender Issues and development, and reproductive Health and Family Life Issues. Dr. Effom has published several articles and book chapters in leading Journals including journal article entitled “Socio-Economic and Cultural Barriers that Affect Women’s Participation in Local Level Governance in the Central Region of Ghana”

Dr. Astridah Musonda is a Lecturer in Educational Leadership and Management at Kwame Nkrumah University, Zambia. Her research focuses on issues of gender, educational leadership, and transformative service. Dr. Musonda has published several articles in peer reviewed journals. Her most recent entitled “Decolonizing Students Mind Set to offer Transformative Service to the Nation and the Society at Large: A Case Study of Kwame Nkrumah University, Zambia”.