Managing Controversy in Schools

While there have always been controversies in schools, the challenges associated with addressing controversial issues in school life have become more pronounced in recent times. Reasons include: the rapidly increasing levels of diversity in schools; the heightened sensitivity towards questions of identity; and the rise of social media and instant electronic communication.

Why is this pack needed?

Controversy is an unavoidable and growing part of life, as a result of the advancement of technology and movement of peoples. Yet few school leaders in the UK or mainland European countries receive any formal training in how to handle controversial issues.

Professional Development programmes for school leaders and managers seldom mention it and the subject is rarely, if ever, addressed in continual professional development. Funded by the Council of Europe and written by Young Citizens consultants, David Kerr and Ted Huddleston, Managing Controversy is a self-reflection tool for school leaders that has been produced to fill this gap.

The tool helps practitioners reflect on the way controversy is handled in their schools and offers practical suggestions for how it might be addressed more proactively and strategically. Its central message is that controversy is not to be feared but should be seen as a natural part of school life and when managed well has significant social and educational benefits. You may also find it helpful to sign up for the Teaching Controversial Issues pack.

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