Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Research Student: Hilario Garcia Ostos

Photo of Hilario Garcia Ostos

What does ‘Ethical Leadership’ mean to Educational Leaders in Christian Schools?

Submission Date: July 2017

The aim of my research is to discover how leadership values are put into practice by leaders in schools with a Christian ethos in England, how these values are shaped by the life experience of these leaders and how this issue affects the choice of Continuous Training Development courses for school leaders.

The research requires semi-structured interviews with head teachers and school leaders (e.g. heads of teaching alliances) working in schools linked directly or indirectly to three main Christian denominations in England: the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and the many non-conformist English Protestant churches.

Five discernible limitations from existing research have been identified:

  1. The need to extend the research beyond Catholic schools to include leadership of schools of other Christian/religious denominations, especially independent evangelical schools;
  2. The need for comparative analysis to ascertain whether Christian leadership values are largely generic or vary according to context and type of religious school;
  3. The need to assess the extent to which espoused or articulated leadership values are enacted in practice in accordance with the principles of applied ethics;
  4. The need to consider the ethical leadership CPD implications for head teachers;
  5. The need to apply innovative qualitative methodologies in order to gain a deeper understanding of leadership values, ethical practices and outcomes, especially based on narrative enquiry.

This research is meant to provide a better understanding in these areas.


After qualifying, as a primary teacher in 1995, I spent 18 months in England widening my expertise and improving my English.

During this time I met my English wife and my personal faith in Christ was renewed. In 1997 I started work as a primary teacher whilst studying part-time for a degree in Linguistics and Literature.       

My time as a primary teacher was very fulfilling. However, I realised that I desired to share my passion for effective, multi-dimensional, relationship-based teaching with others so in 2000, I became a tutor for trainee teachers with who I shared the values that underpinned my approach to education. This experience contributed to my interest in pursuing a career in educational leadership.

In 2003 I was appointed chair of a staff selection panel for the province; in 2006 I was appointed deputy head of a large primary school; in 2008 I was appointed head teacher of the same school. In 2010 I was granted the required funding for an MA in Educational Leadership as part of a paid study-leave.

In England, I have been working full-time in the educational field for 6 years. Although the British context is very different to the educational context in Spain, this opportunity has provided a terrific chance to widen my professional expertise and my understanding of education.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

Following my MA studies I desired to further my knowledge with regard to educational leadership understood as an adaptive activity that clarifies the current conflict in values whilst bridging the gap between values and practice. My interest in the involvement of Christians in education further delimited my interest in ethical leadership in schools with a Christian ethos.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

It is my belief that for these principles to become common practice they have to be supported and encouraged by the leadership of educational institutions. This has direct relevance with the issue of Christian leadership values and their practical application in schools, the topic of my research. 

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

After nearly 20 years working full time in  education in primary and secondary and post 16 sectors in Spain and the UK, I look forward to be able to share my expertise (theoretical and practical) in ethical educational leadership to help other education practitioners and leaders to understand and exercise ethical leadership.

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