Moral purpose and shared leadership

by Michael Bezzina


This report describes the outcomes of a pilot study known as Leaders Transforming Learning and Learners (LTLL). The study explores the role of shared moral purpose and shared leadership in supporting teachers as they strive to implement authentic learning in their schools and classrooms.

Leading with moral purpose means having a commitment to making a difference in the lives and outcomes of students as a result of their experiences at school.

Barber and Fullan (2005) explain that: “The central moral purpose consists of constantly improving student achievement and ensuring that achievement gaps, wherever they exist, are narrowed.” For a school to achieve this, there needs to be a shared commitment to explicit values.

The schools involved in the LTLL project used a conceptual framework around leading with moral purpose, engaged in professional development, and agreed to include a research element in their process. 

The article explains the detail of the project. While the project will change as a result of the pilot, the schools involved are already pleased with their progress. In particular, they have seen an increase in the shared responsibility and leadership throughout the schools, and a stronger commitment to the progress of each child.

One of the reviewers reported using this article with his principals’ group, who found it challenging and helpful.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this article:

  • Consider how explicitly your school has discussed moral purpose and shared vision. Is it in your school charter, for example? What opportunities are there for further development of the theme and transference into school practice?
  • Simply having named a shared moral purpose, or committed to shared leadership, or discussed authentic learning does not wipe away barriers to achieving them in your school. What are the barriers and how can you go about reducing them, to achieve improvement in classroom and school practice?
  • Gaining whole school and community buy-in to a project such as Bezzina describes is not straight forward. How would you address the issues and, particularly, how would you work to draw in the commitment of the school community?


Bezzina, M. (2007, August). Moral purpose and shared leadership: The leaders transforming learning and learners pilot study. Paper presented at the Australian Council for Educational Research conference on The Leadership Challenge: Improving Learning in Schools, Melbourne.

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