The heavy weight of COVID leadership: an analysis of one international school’s leadership during the pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented chaos all over the world, and schools and their leaders have not escaped its impacts. This article analyses the leadership actions of the team from one international school in reopening after mandated lockdown; it seeks to contribute to the discourse on school leadership during these unprecedented times and to share leadership lessons with those bearing the weight of responsibility of leadership during the pandemic. Using the lens of a framework drawn from the example of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s leadership of New Zealand during the crisis, the actions of the school leaders are examined and linked to each of the good practices outlined. To connect this firmly to school leadership, the actions are categorised as either educational management or educational leadership, and then assessed to determine to what extent transactional and/or transformational leadership was appropriate to how the leaders responded to the various issues that arose during the events. From the analysis, I conclude that the actions of school leaders should fall under the guise of both leadership and management in order to successfully take a school through a period of uncertainty such as this, and should utilise both transformational and transactional leadership, dependent upon the circumstances with which they are faced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-38
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Research in International Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

The author received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


  • Leadership and management
  • educational leadership
  • international schools
  • pandemic leadership
  • transactional and transformational leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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