Chapter 19: Trade unions, context and leadership in education
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As organisations that seek to impact education sector policy and practice, education trade unions constitute a distinctive sphere of activity within which union employees as well as teacher and principal members employed by schools and other formal educational organisations demonstrate leadership. My main argument in this chapter is that context has to be central to how we conceptualise leadership in and around education trade unions because it differs so much across settings. A key context shaping leadership associated with education unions is their historical form and approach in particular national settings which are in turn a response to national politics. This chapter considers three national contexts - New Zealand, the UK, particularly England, and Finland - to show just how different the leadership challenges surrounding education unions can be, even if many concerns are shared. The chapter then turns to leadership associated with education unions at the more local level of schools and other educational institutions, using examples from New Zealand to highlight further complexities that need to be recognised. There are highly differential levels of commitment to union stances and activities across educational sites and even leadership outside of union-sanctioned activities that nevertheless seek to influence union campaigns. I conclude that education union-related leadership deserves nuanced analyses from educational leadership scholars.

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