Educational Leadership and Management in an International School Context

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2013

48 Pages, Grade: 1st class



Chapter 1
1.1 What is educational leadership?
1.2 Values and leadership
1.3 Vision – A product of values
1.4 Distinguishing educational leadership and management

Chapter 2 Decentralisation, self-management and management systems
2.1 Decentralisation and self-management
2.2 Analysing educational systems
2.3 Systems models

Chapter 3
Theories of educational leadership and management
3.1 The nature of theory
3.2 Theories of practice
Transformational leadership
Participative leadership
Distributed leadership

Chapter 4
4.1 Aim
4.2 Participants
4.3 Measures
4.4 Procedure
4.5 Interview data
4.6 Research plan

Chapter 5 Results and analysis

Chapter 6
Discussion and further work
6.1 Re-statement of aim
6.2 Achieving the vision
6.3 Curriculum management
6.4 Delegated roles and staff motivation
6.5 Leaders and personality
6.6 Strategic focus
6.7 Further work


Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Chapter 1 - Introduction

According to Bush (2010) there is great interest in educational leadership because of the belief that the quality of leadership makes a significant difference to school and student outcomes.

It is evident that schools require effective leaders and managers if they are to achieve success and provide a world class education for their learners.

Due to the increase in commercialism and an injection of wealth, there is a new demand to meet a western style of education, particularly in Asia. Asian and Middle Eastern countries are seeking to find an answer to successful leadership and management in education.

Because of such growing demands for a British or Western style education, developing countries in South East Asia, such as Vietnam, are aiming to match their neighbouring counterparts, such as Japan and South Korea in their rise to the top 5 best education systems in the world.

As addressed by The Ministry of Education and Training, Vietnam (MOET, 2012) ‘the system of education and finance management is still weak. There is a shortage of primary education managers and they lack high qualification...’

This study aims to provide empirical evidence by critically analysing leadership models and styles that are most likely to achieve the best outcomes.

This study will also aim to provide a clear framework to which leadership can be understood within the international school context, based on the authors own experience as a British International school, in Vietnam and will be referred to as the institution. Linking their traditional philosophies as a clear vision, this study aims to analyse appropriate leadership strategies within the institution in a bid to raise the standard of education and educational outcomes around the whole of Vietnam.

1.1 - What is Educational Leadership?

Leadership in schools is the most important factor in achieving improvements in school performance. Leaders make a significant difference in any organisation. There is no single way to lead which can guarantee success, leadership in situated and contextual, involving issues such as diversity, inclusion and equity and embracing change to embed social justice. Yukl (2002, pp. 4-5) argues that the definition of leadership is arbitrary and very subjective. Given that there is more than one way to lead, perhaps a combination of many and what may be good in some contexts may not be in others. In order to achieve success a school requires trained and committed teachers but in return they need the leadership of a highly effective principal.

“Most definitions of leadership reflect the assumption that it involves a social influence process whereby intentional influence is exerted by one person [or group] over other people [or groups] to structure the activities and relationships in a group or organisations.”

(Yukl, 2002, p.3)

Cuban (1988) also claims that the influence process is beneficial in that it is intended to lead in order to gain specific outcomes and results, bringing out the best in peers such as, in an educational institute. ‘Leadership then refers to people who bend the motivations and actions of others to achieve certain goals; it implies taking initiatives and risks’.

1.2 - Values and Leadership

Wasserberg (2002, p.158) states that the primary role of any leader is the unification of people around key values, expressed in personal values, self-awareness and emotional or moral capability.

Greenfield and Ribbins (1993) add that leadership begins with character of leaders, expressed in terms of personal values, self-awareness and emotional and moral capabilities. This is clear that the ultimate goal or aim of the leader in question will be reflected by peers and the school as a whole. Nurture, work ethic and work proficiency are prime examples at the institution, of ensuring traditions are kept with a bilingual education. This work of Greenfield and Ribbins (1993) can be linked strongly to leadership characteristics, or more specifically, mannerisms or skills related to leadership that enables a leader to lead effectively.

Many leadership characteristics are evident in the work of Stodgill (1974) (see Appendix 1). A successful leader must be very adaptable to any situation and remain knowledgeable to current policies and alert to external factors. An effective leader is cooperative with all members of staff and all pupils which in turn earn them a lot of respect. A successful leader is decisive, persistent and risk taking which contributes to the continuous progress of a school.

Many of the traits and skills identified by Stodgill (1974) are generic and could be found in numerous personality questionnaires or studies, but there are traits/skills which can be deemed as significant in particular practices or institutions, they are ‘dominant’ and ‘persuasive’, a desire to influence others. It is these factors which help the school achieve its ultimate objective…success. There are factors which transcend on to other members of staff and students within the school. An effective leader should always be willing to go the extra mile, such as social events for example, or leading and taking part in extra-curricular activities where some heads wouldn’t leave their office.

Most traits are common in lots of people but what makes a difference is being able to implement traits and skills, which is where theory and strategy become affective, particularly ‘interpersonal leadership’. It may be that a leader doesn’t possess any or many of Stodgill’s traits or skills but may be able to implement leadership theories successfully, perhaps by delegating work elsewhere. It is important to acknowledge that a leader should not be required to possess universal traits; the leadership traits possessed should be specific to their institute.

It is worth noting that there is currently little work that identifies any relationship between leadership traits and a successful school or positive school climate without the appropriate implementation of leadership in practice.

McCall and Lombardo (1983) developed the ideas of Stodgill in researching both success and failure. They identified four primary traits by which leaders could succeed or alternatively ‘de-rail’.

The four traits are;

- Emotional stability and composure; Being calm, confident and predictable, particularly when under stress
- Admitting error: Owning up to mistakes, rather than putting energy into covering up
- Good interpersonal skills: Being able to communicate and persuade others without resorting to negative or coercive tactics
- Intellectual breadth: Being able to understand a wide range of areas, rather than having a narrow (narrow minded) area of expertise.

In addition to some of the traits, skills and characteristics, Davies (2008) highlights key factors driven by passion. Passionate leaders are driven by the centrality of social justice and moral purpose. Passionate leaders also have a passion for transformation of learning outcomes and creating a ‘sense of place’ for learning. The strong link to visions, values and transformational leadership will be discussed in Chapter 2.

1.3. – Vision…A product of Values?

Vision is increasingly regarded an essential component of effective leadership, in sync with clear goals of where the school, as a whole, are aiming to be [or achieve]. Beare, Caldwell and Millikan (1989) draw on previous works of leadership and its relativity directly to vision:

- Outstanding leaders have a vision for their organisation
- Visions must be communicated in a way in which secures commitment among other members of the organisation, at all levels
- Communication of vision requires communication of meaning
- Attention should be given to institutionalising vision if leadership is to be successful.

Dempster and Logan’s (1998) study shows the expectations people have of their principal in relation to motivation and drive, achieving their vision and how to strategically plan to achieve the vision. On the other hand some writers are critical of the visionary leaders, Fullan (1992, p.83) adds that vision building is a highly sophisticated dynamic process which few organisations can sustain. What is the alternative to vision building or can vision building be sustainable.

Despite some criticism of leadership and vision, a study by Greenfield, Licata and Johnson (1992) states, using a large sample of 1769 in 62 schools, demonstrates that there was strong support for a clear vision and that it was articulated well. Teachers in this sample seemed to agree that their principles had a vision of what the school ought to be and that it was in the best interest of their students. They also viewed their principals as being relatively effective in advancing the vision. The articulation of a clear vision has the potential to develop schools.

Primarily, being able to distinguish between leadership and management is very important. Are leadership and management the same or is one more effective than the other? By distinguishing leadership and management, this study will then lead to the analysis of various leadership or management strategies.

1.4 - Distinguishing educational leadership and management

Dimmock (1999) differentiates stating:

‘School leaders experience tensions between competing elements of leadership, management and administration. Irrespective of how these terms are defined, school leaders experience difficulty in deciding the balance between higher order tasks designed to improve staff, students and school performance [leadership], routine maintenance of present operations [management] and lower order duties [administration].

Cuban (1988) provides a clear distinction between leadership and management. Cuban defines a leader as being able to influence others’ actions in achieving desirable ends. Leaders are those who shape goals, motivations and actions of others, initialising change to reach existing and new goals.

Managing is maintaining efficiently and effectively current organisational arrangements, while managing well often exhibits leadership skills. Day, Harris and Hadfield (2001) suggest that management is linked to system and ‘paper’ and leadership is perceived to be about the development of people.

This being said, leadership and management need to be given equal prominence if schools and colleges are to operate effectively and achieve their objectives. While a clear vision may be essential to establish the nature and direction of change, it is equally important to ensure that innovations are implemented efficiently and that the schools functions are carried out effectively. Such a theory would appear to be irrelevant with an appropriate strategic approach to educational leadership.

It is of equal important to identify the differences between educational leadership and that of a regular business. Of course, there are some similarities, however, in education there is one vital output, that being the children. Educational leadership has to be centrally concerned with the purpose or aims of education, including different outputs such as the community, parent satisfaction, a wealthy competition pool and obviously educational outcomes. These goals, as described by Bush (2008), provide the crucial sense of direction to underpin school management, particularly their vision and setting the vision for all to follow.

A successful leader possesses excellent man management skills, regardless of being in an education institute or elsewhere. However there are other necessities to be a successful leader in an education institute:

- The difficulty of setting and measuring educational objectives
- The presence of children and young people as the outputs or clients of educational institutions, considering need for nurture and safety and enjoyment
- The need for educational professionals to have a high degree of autonomy in the classroom
- The fact that many senior or middle managers, particularly in primary schools, have little or no time for the managerial aspect.

The overriding purpose of schools and colleges is to promote effective teaching and learning. Does an effective leader have the qualities to go the extra mile and ensure child safety or well-being of staff, or simply take care of the management and administration, leaving the rest to teachers.

Leadership qualities need to be specific to an educational institute or issues rather than the generic tasks of managing staff, finance and marketing. (Bush, 1998).


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Educational Leadership and Management in an International School Context
University of Derby
1st class
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ISBN (Book)
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Mark Atkinson (Author), 2013, Educational Leadership and Management in an International School Context, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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