University of Leicester eBulletin

Ethnic Culture in Educational Leadership

January 2003
No 25

A University of Leicester public lecture will explore issues of multiculturalism in schools, particularly in relation to the role of the head teacher.

In his Inaugural Lecture, which will take place on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 at 5.30pm on the University main campus, Professor Clive Dimmock will speak on An Ethnocentric Field: Introducing a Little Culture into Education Leadership.  

In his lecture he will discuss schools as multicultural centres, important leadership issues concerning ethnic minority schools, the inadequacies of training for head teachers in this respect and the implications all this has for society at large.

Professor Dimmock will touch on the subject of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, their role in filling a shortfall in labour, the part schools can play in diffusing racial tension, and education and behavioural problems.

Professor Dimmock commented: “In these days of racial and religious tension in society, it has never been a more important time to highlight the roles that schools and those who manage them can play in a multicultural society. Through research we need to understand how schools can be effective in creating a more harmonious society.”

The Inaugural Lecture by Professor Clive Dimmock of the Centre for Educational Leadership and Management, University of Leicester School of Education, will take place on Tuesday, February 11, 2003, at 5.30 pm in Lecture Theatre 1, Ken Edwards Building, University Main Campus. It is open to the public and free.

NOTE TO EDITORS: A synopsis of Professor Dimmock’s lecture follows. Further information is available from Professor Clive Dimmock, of the Centre for Educational Leadership and Management, University of Leicester School of Education, telephone 01604 251813, mobile 07813 641750,  facsimile 01604 231136, email

An ethnocentric field: Introducing a little culture into Educational Leadership

Inaugural Lecture by Professor Clive Dimmock
Centre for Educational Leadership and Management
, School of Education

The importance of leadership, particularly of the head teacher, is widely acknowledged as a key factor behind school performance. However, hitherto, little attention has been paid to the challenges facing leaders of schools with substantial numbers of ethnic minority students. Indeed, current leadership training takes little cognisance of the fact that many head teachers will, and do, lead multicultural school communities.

The lecture will point up important leadership issues concerning ethnic minority schools, the justification for preparing leaders to manage such schools competently and sensitively, and the need for research to understand the problems and issues confronting such leaders as a prelude to identifying informed leadership practice in multicultural schools.

It will argue that focusing attention and resources on the leadership of ethnic minority schools rests on the following:

·        Like many other developed societies, Britain is now truly multicultural. Significant numbers of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from different parts of the world, have, over decades, produced a demographic structure that is pluralist and cosmopolitan, and a large number of multicultural and ethnic minority schools.

·      Britain currently has a falling birth rate at one end of the age spectrum, and greater longevity, at the other. The ratio of dependants/work force is growing. The shortfall in labour has to be filled by immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers is imperative. Britain's multiculturalism will continue.

·      Persistent racial tensions and conflicts characterise Britain as a multicultural society. While many panaceas have been identified, the role of schools as socialising agents in changing young people's attitudes towards multiculturalism at an early formative age, must become a major thrust of policy and practice.

·      The standards of academic performance and behaviour of ethnic minority students often fall below that of their Anglo counterparts. They are more likely to be troublesome, to truant, drop out of school prematurely, and to under-perform. Schools with large numbers of ethnic minority students are more likely to be labelled 'failing'.

·      As the school population has become more culturally diverse, the organisational cultures and structures of schools have failed to keep pace. Their organisational values, processes, and rituals have shown little capacity to adapt to the changing nature of a multicultural society.

·      Finally, while the demographic and ethnic composition of schools has substantially changed, the leadership training offered to head teachers and senior staff, has lagged.  

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