Leadership with a Moral Purpose

Turning your school inside out

By: Will Ryan


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Size: 235 x 191mm
Pages : 224
ISBN : 9781845900847
Format: Paperback
Published: August 2008

Leadership with a Moral Purpose gives all primary heads – aspiring, newly appointed or those who think 'there must be something more than this!' – the ideas, techniques, tools and direction to turn their schools inside-out' and inspire them to lead with the heart and with the soul.

Too many schools these days are 'outside-in' schools, running to keep up with someone else's agenda or priorities. In this timely book, Will Ryan gives head teachers the confidence to do those things they know are right because they are right for the children, right for the staff and right for the community.

Contents include developing an 'Inside Out Vision' for:

  • the school
  • the classroom
  • inclusion
  • social and emotional aspects of learning
  • positive attitudes
  • a professional learning community
  • leadership
  • parents

Picture for author Will Ryan

Will Ryan

Will Ryan has worked in schools in South Yorkshire for over forty years as a teacher, head teacher and local authority adviser. As a head teacher he led a school that prized itself on genuine pupil creativity and was described by Ofsted as outstanding'. He is a speaker and Associate of Independent Thinking Ltd.

Click here to read Will Ryan’s blog.


  1. I really enjoyed reading Will Ryan`s book. I was somewhat surprised though that the book was aimed at `primary heads - aspiring, newly-appointed, or those who think `there must be something more than this!` ` as I felt that the whole book is very appropriate for heads of all sectors, including heads of special schools.

    I felt the content to be extremely topical, especially the section on `A Professional Learning Community`. The book was light hearted but at the same time focused on what really happens within the school situation.
    As a headteacher of a large special school, my passion is for vulnerable children to be taught in settings that are appropriate to need, with a curriculum catering for their individuality and of course their needs.
    The story of Thomas (chapter 7) made me realise how many `Thomas`s` the school picks up, and with a good dose of TLC manages to turn the child around despite the most difficult of home circumstances. This is always leading with `heart and soul` and in thinking about what best suits that particular child.

    The book focuses on what is important in a child`s school life and on what makes a good school. The book is certainly written by a man who has `walked the walk`.

    Headteachers reading the book, like myself, can relate to the practical experiences that are faced every day in our leadership roles. Heads do have the confidence to do what they know is right for the children, right for the staff and the wider community of the school; sometimes they just need the courage to put this moral purpose into practice.

    Will Ryan`s book would, I feel, encourage heads to gather their courage and to create schools for the 21st Century.
  2. Will Ryan has written a powerful resource that will both challenge and reassure school leaders. He writes from the perspective of effective learning and is unswerving in his commitment to the quality of the learner's experience as the primary purpose of leadership. He provides abundant stimuli and resources to stimulate reflection and review and support action.

    At the same time his approach affirms the very best of primary education and offers a wide range of resources to reinforce what many professionals believe to be the way forward for primary education in England. His approach is clear and logical and is supported by a wide range of examples, insights and stories that make his text come to life.
  3. Aimed at primary heads, this book aims to give headteachers the confidence to do those things they know are right because they are right for the children, right for the staff and right for the community and not because they are slave to somebody else's agenda. To this end it has a very powerful and positive message that most should find inspiring.

    The term 'inside-out school' is used to describe the ideal school - one driven by a clear moral purpose, as apposed to an 'outside-in school' which is running to keep up with pressures from others outside.

    Will Ryan has 33 years of experience of primary education as a teacher, inspector and local authority advisor. Each chapter of the book begins with a story from his own experience. This keeps the tone lighthearted and amusing while at the same time exploring important and relevant issues for primary headteachers. While at times the feet of the book seems slightly gimmicky and occasionally the relevance of examples could be called into question, on the whole Ryan uses clear-to-follow guides that fit with the needs of modern heads on how to improve schools from the inside and lead by example.
  4. With the premise that too many schools are "outside in' schools, running to keep up with someone else's agenda, Will Ryan sets out to give ideas, techniques tools and direction to enable heads to turn their schools "inside out'. Will Ryan has been a teacher, headteacher and local authority adviser and writes with this experience behind him.
  5. This is an outstanding resource to stimulate teaching, learning and in particular a school ethos where every person matters. Although written with a definite slant for staff in primary schools, it will also make an excellent resource for staff within secondary schools For example the section on “Why creativity is key to learning in inside out schools” is very relevant to staff engaged in developing the Key Stage 3 curriculum and transition programmes. Will Ryan has a style which promotes reflection by the reader on their practice whilst giving a stimulus to move practice forward. In this respect I found the section on “Creating a Vision for Developing Positive Attitudes to the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning” particularly thought provoking. An excellent book which is essential reading for staff in primary and secondary schools.
  6. Targeted at primary heads, new and well-established, and those aspiring to headship, Leadership with a Moral Purpose is part of the Independent Thinking Series written by highly innovative education practitioners. It is written from the premise that there must be something more than this and offers ideas, techniques, tools and direction to transform schools inside-out. It also aims to inspire heart-and-soul based leadership. The fundamental argument put forward is that schools are run to too many external agendas and priorities.

    The concept of an -˜inside-out' school is a recurring theme throughout the book. Will Ryan portrays leadership with a moral purpose as more of a campaign rather than simply a book and suggests that it offers primary school leaders a key aid in creating a three-year vision for the future.

    The development of an -˜inside-out vision' is applied to practice both within and outside of the classroom. The notion is employed in relation to features of practice that embrace curriculum provision, teaching and learning, inclusion, social and emotional aspects of learning, positive attitudes, professional learning communities, leadership and parents as partners. Taking control of situations creatively is a constant theme across all chapters with -˜creativity' a much-used word. -˜Creating a vision' for all these features figures in the headings to the individual chapters.

    Each chapter starts with a scene-setting prologue telling a story as a reality check as to everyday issues and pressures faced by schools. These prologues provide a stimulating basis and rationale for thinking about things differently and developmentally, leading to the construction of highly practical three-year visions for change. The visioning offers systems and approaches as well as targets and milestones such as how much progress might be expected in one year Specific success criteria are also proposed.

    The practical nature of leadership with a moral purpose is reinforced with several useful tools and materials along with some interesting case studies. It is also well illustrated with easyto-use charts and diagrams that exemplify how an -˜inside-out vision' is inculcated. All of the materials have been used in schools acclaimed by Ofsted inspectors.

    Thus, leadership with a moral purpose can be seen as a highly relevant guidance that pinpoints a large number of key improvement drivers to take schools and their communities forward in innovative and pertinent ways. Delivery of the ideas in Leadership with a Moral Purpose will ensure compliance with the five outcomes of Every Child Matters.

    Moral purpose, of course, is a concept very much in vogue and one propagated by leading educational thinkers, practitioners and even by the secretary of state who, in speeches, has talked about the concept as one of the bases to maximising children's and schools' potential.

    This book represents a timely prompt to heads to be confident about carrying out actions that they believe to be right for children, staff and the community.

    Leadership with a Moral Purpose is both a manual and an aspiration for a makeover of primary schooling. The author offers compelling and convincing arguments for a richer vision of primary education than can be found in some initiatives coming from governments over the last 20 years. He writes from personal experience as a long-serving head and from working with others in Rotherham schools as a school improvement adviser. The book has been very well received and praised by several top educationalists including Michael Fullan, all of which adds to the notion of making Leadership with a Moral Purpose essential reading.
  7. Learn at home

    Though aimed at primary school leaders, there is much here that appeals to those of us in the secondary sector. I particularly liked the chapter on creating a vision for the best classrooms. Secondary teachers don't own their classrooms in the way primary colleagues do, but there is much to be learned about making the environment work.

    The tables of key features of -˜hopeful' and -˜woeful' classroom cultures will be used as a discussion tool for my teachers this term I Its plain and simple advice is easy to follow and difficult to ignore.

    It was the chapter on Leading with a Moral Purpose that made the biggest impact, however, reminding me about why I became a headteacher in the first place. The -˜insideout' school is the ideal - one driven by a clear moral purpose, as opposed to an -˜outside-in' school which is running to keep up with pressure from outside.

    An easy read with clear, practical advice, this book has no pretensions to be an academic text - just the sort of educational book I like to read! I recommend it.
  8. How refreshing to read a book like Leadership with a Moral Purpose!

    It is brim full of passion, insights and plain good old common sense. Will Ryan has used his experience to produce a book that will both instruct and inspire. It will prove to be of value for all those who are serious about creating powerful learning experiences for new studies.
  9. This is an unusual book for school leaders: it starts from the inside out. Will Ryan brings a new perception of how leadership could develop, beginning with a dream of what a school could be- one filled with the passion, energy, belief and moral purpose that feed the collaborative strategies necessary for success. By establishing a vision of what everyone in the school is working toward, and by involving each participant as an active member of the professional learning community, the school leader is building a powerful team, including the parents as partners, that can put the individual and necessary bits and pieces together to create a place where teachers and children want to belong, want to work together, and want to support each other. The detailed checklists and the bulleted summaries offer us ways to begin, methods for organizing our dream mandate for our school, so that an action plan can grow from the inside out. This is an important book, and it has strengthened my own beliefs in creating schools that include every child and every teacher in the plan for its success. This is a book for school leaders written by an educational leader who has been there, who loves the place called school, and who has mapped the territory for us with his own passion and belief.
  10. Every leadership conference you ever go to talks about -˜vision'. This book tried to talk about vision and also how to put it into place. It really tried to out flesh on a vision that many head teachers believe in, but often fail to achieve.

    It is aimed at primary school head teachers and those who aspire to become heads and is the book you wish to read before you became a head and not twelve years later. It is bold and gives the reader great confidence. It really picks out the main areas of importance; Creativity, Leadership, creating a vision, planning and making sure the curriculum is strong and engaging young people and parents. It has great chapter on creating positive attitudes and a real down to earth chapter about Inclusion.

    It is filled with some great stories and anecdotes that brings leadership alive and has many charts, questionnaires, grids, and diagrams and all of them are challenging and useful to the serving head. I can see every head using bits of these with their leadership team, parents on inset days and as a challenge to their own thinking.

    Will Ryan and Ian Gilbert are passionate about education making a difference and this is clear on every page. They have also worked out some of the key ways in which schools make a difference and Will Ryan uses a lot of his own experience as a head and the journey of change that he has experienced. There is also quotes from everyone from Michael Fullan to Lewis Carroll and these have been well chosen and illustrate some of the key ideas.

    The curriculum needs bold and brave people to make it work. This book will help them make the curriculum work for them.
  11. Leadership with a Moral Purpose should be read by every newly appointed headteacher and by every experienced headteacher, by every deputy head and by every person doing NPQH. It needs to be read by every class teacher, every classroom assistant and every school governor. The book is disarmingly easy to read, but its messages pack an incredibly powerful punch. It is a deafening clarion call to arms for everyone in the school system who has ever questioned the relevance to children of the curriculum they felt pressured to deliver. For the box tickers and QCAs mindless followers, it will be an uncomfortable read which will leave them diving for cover and hiding behind their well learned excuses, but it will send a breath of inspiration, bravery and encouragement through every class teacher who has ever felt that the needs of children should come first and through every headteacher seeking a better way and a brighter day.
  12. In this book Will combines sound educational research, practical advice and inspirational thinking. His work will make you question what you truly believe in for Primary Education and what you would stand up and fight for the children in your school.

    After working with Will we felt inspired and empowered to make the changes to our curriculum that we know will lay the foundations for our children to lead happy and successful lives.
  13. This book shows a brilliant understanding of how school leaders can make a real difference in their pupil's lives. It helps to refocus on the things that are really important and to identify the “non-negotiables”.

    Will's writing is entertaining and enjoyable but also always thought provoking. His clear thinking and uncompromising approach will give all school leaders the tools needed to transform their schools.

    Leadership with a Moral Purpose
    is inspirational reading - the materials helped me to articulate the vision and the reading gave me the courage to take action!
  14. Leadership with a Moral Purpose
    is a complete primary school leadership manual for the immediate future. It has its head in the skies and its feet on the ground. A fantastic combination ” vision and pragmatism, head and heart, in equal measure. With books like this we might, at last, break the final shackles of that debilitating Thatcherite premise, that schools are essentially factory-like businesses, and assert the unique, incomparable, vital nature of expertly-led, community-appropriate, student-focussed, individually-configured, globally-aware, creatively-charged, values-driven, sky-is-the-limit places of learning. Will, I am asking every primary headteacher I meet to read your book. It swims with the changing tide.
  15. This is a lively and thought provoking book which provides an entertaining analysis of effective leadership in today's schools. Will Ryan draws on his extensive experience of working with and in schools to secure transformational change and combines this with a thorough review of theories of leadership for change. The end product is an engaging and challenging text that even the most experienced and successful leader will take something from. This book will be of interest to leadership teams within schools, aspiring leaders, trainers and school effectiveness teams. Its enduring focus on the child as a successful learner is a strong theme and Will Ryan manages to bring a very personal insight to the complexities of school improvement. Is your school inside out or outside in? An inspiring book which I strongly recommend.
  16. Will Ryan has taken up a theme dear to my heart-What's Worth Fitghing For in the Headship-And he does it with powerful and practical results. He shows how Heads can and must take greater charge of their own and their schools' change destinies.. He furnishs a fantastic framework, gems of ideas and easy to grasp conceptual tools, and useful and easy to use checklists and rating forms. Ryan says at the outset, this is "less of a book more of a campaign".Actually it is more of both, precisely because it is a book of ideas and passion. Every page has ideas worth grasping. Read it and it really will make you a better leader.
  17. In an educational world currently dominated by SATs, targets and league tables this book is a breath of fresh air. The author's passion, moral purpose and absolute commitment to primary education exude from every page.

    It is written from the heart and shows remarkable honesty and insight into what should be non negotiable in providing the very best education for pupils.

    It not only describes how visionary leadership can transform schools but also provides a wealth of information on how the vision can be created and achieved. It is firmly rooted in sound common sense and practical approaches.

    This is not a dull educational tome ” it is full of amusing anecdotes and is a thoroughly enjoyable read. However, at the same time it is challenging, thought provoking and inspirational.

    A must for all school leaders and those who aspire to lead.
  18. Leadership with a Moral Purpose
    is just the kind of book today's primary headteachers need. It gives them the intellectual permission to think outside the strict confines of government initiatives. Instead, it encourages them to focus on an inspiring and heartfelt vision that will bring rich rewards for learners and the wider school community. Based on his experience leading and advising schools, Will Ryan explains clearly and convincingly how to create an inspirational school. If you've ever thought that education has lost its way in this country, this is a book for you. But more than that, this text will help you rediscover the reasons you first came into teaching. It is the kind of book that can genuinely change the world for the better.

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