Analysis of School Heads-Principals’ Trust in International Schools in Colombia

  • Juan David Lopez Evans

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This phenomenological study analyzes the principles and behaviors that lead principals to trust school heads in the context of US-international schools in Colombia. The notion of school head refers to “the most senior academic administrator” (Hayden, 2006, p.94) of a K-12 educational institution (American nomenclature). The title “superintendent” or “director” are other terms to refer to the school head in some of these schools. These institutions are divided into sections or divisions (pre-school, elementary, middle, and high school), and one principal leads each section. The school head is the direct supervisor of the principals in each division. It is common in these types of schools in Colombia that all areas or divisions of a school are located on the same campus or building. Trust has been identified as an essential factor in student achievement (Goddard, R.D., Tschannen-Moran, M. and Hoy, W.K., 2001; Bryk and Schneider, 2003). Although principals indirectly influence faculty and teacher-student trust, they are the initiators of trust in their buildings (Moye, Henkin and Egley, 2005). Additionally, the school head-principal relationship is a vital component of the necessary conditions for student achievement (Cudeiro, 2005). There is extensive research in the corporate sector on manager-employee trust. However, there is very little research about the factors and behaviors that qualify senior academic leaders (e.g., principals and school heads) as trustworthy. Moreover, this particular research is almost non-existent, to the best of our knowledge, in the context of international schools. The findings of this study suggest that honesty is the most prominent characteristic of trustworthy school heads. This study also proposes a “distributive instructional leadership” or “leadership for learning” approach centered on student learning as a potential driver of trust in the context of the represented schools. Theoretical and practical implications in different areas are discussed.
Date of Award26 Apr 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMichael Fertig (Supervisor) & Jim Hordern (Supervisor)


  • Trust
  • School Leadership
  • Leadership for Learning
  • International Education
  • Phenomenology

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