The governing of international schools: The implications of ownership and profit motive

Chris James, Paul Sheppard

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17 Citations (SciVal)


There are in excess of 5000 English-medium international schools worldwide. This article reports a study of the governing of such schools that explored in particular the implications of ownership and profit motive. The research entailed a questionnaire-based survey of international school head teachers and interviews with representatives of accrediting organisations, owners and head teachers of international schools. Governors in all settings found maintaining a strategic as opposed to an operational role difficult. The distinction between privately owned for-profit and not-for-profit categories of international schools could be unclear. It could change over time and private owners may gain financially personally in not-for-profit institutional settings. Head teachers in privately owned schools, even those schools operated for financial profit, viewed the governing arrangements positively, perhaps because they often had considerable autonomy over educational matters even though they may be excluded from the governing of financial/resource matters. This arrangement has implications for the governing model. Governing bodies of community-owned schools, which in the sample were all not-for-profit, were typically fully elected or self-perpetuating or a hybrid of the two. Fully elected boards, especially fully elected parent boards, and fully self-perpetuating boards can be problematic and the hybrid model has distinct advantages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-20
Number of pages19
JournalSchool Leadership and Management
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • school governing
  • international schools
  • ownership
  • profit motive


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