The Influence of Governance Structure on International School Leadership

  • Geoff Fisher

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


International education is an area of education that, over the last forty years, has grown in size and significance. International schools are one of many vehicles for the delivery of international education and are growing in number and variety. In addition, the value placed by society on an international education and those curricular programs that promote international education continue to develop. International schools are, therefore, becoming an important and growing area of education. In general terms the amount of research on such schools is limited when compared to national education systems and national schools. The growth in the number of international schools has been accompanied by a growth in the variety of such schools and the diversity of foundations, governance models and missions that support them. This diversity and my experience in international school leadership, allied to my interest in school improvement and school effectiveness as it pertains to the field of international schools, led to an interest in how models of governance impact on international school leadership and – through the leadership – on school improvement and development. This research enquiry is a case study, based on evidence produced through three different research methods; individual school studies, a questionnaire and expert interviews. The use of three methods of data gathering allowed for a complex area to be examined and the results to be triangulated. The results of the case study serve to illuminate the area and to suggest future avenues of research. One area of particular interest that was identified through the study was the interaction within the leadership structures of the schools and the relationships between the head of school, governors and model of governance. It would appear from the results of the study that those models of governance that relied on high numbers of elected parents of students currently attending the school produced a much higher turnover of heads and chairs of boards than did others. The interaction between head, chair of the school board and overall board members also appeared to affect the length of time people served in these posts. Following discussion of such issues, the implications of governance model and rate of turnover for the leadership, development and improvement of international schools are further examined and discussed. The process of conducting this enquiry, while time consuming and demanding, has been of huge benefit to me both personally and professionally. I have enjoyed the challenge and particularly gained from the greater professional insight developed during the study.
Date of Award1 Jun 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMary Hayden (Supervisor)


  • school
  • leadership
  • international
  • governance

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