International human rights instruments provide a legal basis for an agreed set of human values globally. These ‘values’ are expected to underpin the purposes and content of education. This paper aims to explore how compliance with human rights instruments and values is balanced by educational leaders in Northern Ireland where diverse interpretations of human rights are held by the main communities and managerialist principles guide education policy making. The paper argues that whilst there is a political and policy commitment to protecting human rights in education as a means of addressing the causes of conflict, this commitment is constantly threatened by interpretations of rights in the local context and a polity underpinned by managerialist principles. It is argued that managerialist concerns around budgetary constraint and academic performance frame the work of educational leaders, yet it is in retrieving the human values which underpin rights, that the potential for educational leaders to transform society through education might be best realised.
- Human rights
- Educational leadership