Leadership for sustainability in education: Why isn’t there more of it? | Keynote Speaker, Dr David Dixon

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Lincoln School of Education Summer School 2022

Wednesday 27th July, 1pm – 2pm, Minerva Building, Room MB3202.

No booking required and everyone is welcome to attend.



Leadership for sustainability in education: Why isn’t there more of it?

Humanity is facing many horses of environmental apocalypse including climate change and mass-extinctions, which themselves are causing mass-migrations, diminishing resources and resulting conflict. Such things have been forecast for decades, yet the Business As Usual growth model, accelerated by the Industrial Revolution has continued unrelentingly. Carbon dioxide levels are higher than they’ve been for 4 million years and rising, despite the fact that we know that humans are responsible for this rapid rise and climate tipping points have already been reached. Although most people in developed countries acknowledge the problems, there seems to be an assumption that technology will bail us out and that we can ‘green’ the present economy without more radical solutions being needed. Education seems to go along with this and ignores the fact that there is no ‘Planet B’. The Take, Make, Use, Dump, linear unjust economy, is just not fit for purpose on a finite world. Far better to develop a Circular economy that is more localised, regenerative and capable of taking the human race into the foreseeable future so everyone can thrive rather than just survive.

David Dixon argues in his book ‘Leadership for Sustainability: Saving the Planet One School At A Time’ that education in general and education leaders in particular, have a moral duty to help children and students to prepare for an uncertain future, whilst exemplifying how a circular economy can work at the school level. He shows this through various models and gives practical examples from his own schools via integrated approaches to the ‘three Cs’ of Curriculum, Campus (school estate) and Community. He also argues that a sustainability ethos can deliver easily measurable outcomes as valued by the overarching accountability framework, whilst delivering happier staff and students and better-quality teaching and learning. Within this there has to be a type of leadership to make it happen (the fourth C of ‘Captaincy’) and a model is offered based on his doctoral research at Lincoln. The possible reasons why leadership for sustainability tends to be the exception rather than the rule are also discussed.

Above all leadership for sustainability is values based and strongly ethical and David’s research points to the origins of this and how it pans out throughout a leader’s life. He also explores why so many leaders for sustainability are labelled ‘mavericks’ and have the fifth C of ‘Courage’ in abundance.



Biography: Dr David Dixon

Dr David Dixon was a full-time primary teacher for 15 years before becoming a headteacher for two decades. In that time, he promoted the twin causes of environmental education and sustainability, which formed the central ethos of his schools. David is now a freelance education consultant, specialising in curriculum and leadership and helping individual schools to link sustainability with school improvement more generally.

This year he published the book ‘Leadership for Sustainability: Saving the Planet One School At A Time’, see https://www.crownhouse.co.uk/ In this book, David sets out how school leaders can embed tried and tested eco-friendly practices within the school setting that can also be central to overall school improvement, including that recognised by inspectors. He also gives guidance around the ‘Five Cs of Sustainability’ – captaincy, curriculum, campus, community, and connections – to position sustainability as a natural vehicle for developing a type of fully integrated learning ecology and culture.

David is a 2009 alumni of Lincoln’s Doctorate in Education (EdD).

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