Culture (3)

Strengthening School Culture Through Advocacy

Dr Phil Cummins explores how to strengthen school culture through an education for character that advocacy of the other.


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When we build culture in a school by strengthening it with advocacy for the other, we reinforce the whole work of the school so that it develops the civic, performance and moral character of its learners in a deliberate way so that they might become good people of integrity who know the way, go the way and show the way forward on their pathways to excellence.

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The most beautiful irony of the advocacy of good people is that they thrive because they put other people before themselves. We, in turn, rely on their reciprocity to care for us in the same way. The ethics of societies throughout history are replete with this interdependence. In the work of our Global Educational Research Program, we have learned much about the way in which this aspiration can be realised through a purposefully intentional approach:

 The culture work that sits at the heart of a School for tomorrow. is the articulation and application of school’s whole program of education to build capacity in character, competency and wellness. We see this in the development of rigour in evidence-based and research driven learning, the richness in relationships and the cultural capital that arises from them, the strategic depth and distribution of leadership, and the performance that arises from the shared work of the community of inquiry and practice.

CIRCLE Global Educational Research Program Finding*2

So much of this shared work relies on our capacity to identify exemplars from the community of the school’s desired character and culture in how these relationships for the other will work best. Yet, it’s important to note that this requirement for consistency is not a static thing – all culture shifts and changes over time:

  I think there’s something really interesting at the moment with the idea of role models … we're putting too much pressure on them. We can't expect people to always be exactly the same. And people change and people grow and people change their minds.

 Daisy Turnbull | Game Changers insight**

Locating Advocacy in School Culture

A culture which is strengthened by the advocacy of good people is one in which the needs and gifts of the other are paramount. What does it look like to embed advocacy within school culture?
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Leading Culture With Advocacy

Adriano and I describe the formation of leadership as good people that strengthens school culture through advocacy for the other like this in our book***:

Thus, our own leadership character as game changers will be formed in much the same way as our learners’ as we go about this work. All of us need to make our mark on the world by expressing our inner drive and we all want to measure up to the expectations of those around us.

Ref: Game Changers: Leading Today's Learning for Tomorrow's World (Amba Press 2023) p.15


A checklist for this work of advocacy as a team leader building culture might look like the following:

Advocacy Check list - Team Leader

A checklist for this work of advocacy as an organisational leader building culture might look like the following:

Advocacy check list - Organisational Leader

How do you rate your work as a leader who strengthens advocacy within school culture?

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* You can learn more about leading the culture work of a school here:

** You can listen to Daisy Turnbull’s Game Changers Episode here:

*** You can purchase your copy of Game Changers: Leading Today’s Learning For Tomorrow’s World (now published by Amba Press) through Amazon here, Barnes and Noble here, and Booktopia here.

Dr Phil Cummins FRSA FACEL FIML is the Managing Partner of a School for tomorrow, Managing Director at CIRCLE – The Centre for Innovation, Research, Creativity & Leadership in Education, Associate Professor of Education & Enterprise at Alphacrucis University College, and co-host of the Game Changers podcast series.

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