The …….. school, …… is an independent international school that delivers a British educational curriculum while combining compulsory subjects of ………. During an interview with the principal it was mentioned that one of the school aims is to combine traditional and moral values of Qatar and a holistic education for all students. kindergarten to year 13 the school caters for approximately 926 students that follow both compulsory academic subjects and options, sports education, religious & moral values and extra curricular activities.
As a fee paying international school with more than 50 different student nationalities attending on a daily basis the multi cultural background make up of the student body is diverse. The medium of teaching instruction is English except for Arabic related subjects, such as Islamic studies. With so many students attending the school with English as a second or third language this poses a challenge for teachers and students in relation to effective communication. For the current 98 teachers to provide effective learning and for students to first understand instructions and learn, a range of teaching strategies require to be used effectively.
A focus of the school recruitment policy is to employ British qualified teachers with at least 6 years experience for the British curriculum subjects, while combining Arabic teachers to deliver Arabic related subjects supported by a range of teaching assistants and supporting staff members. The student admissions selection process is comprehensive with testing such as English, mathematics, Arabic, comprehension and a formal interview is also conducted to select only students with above average academic ability. In addition, the ……. School, at present does not admit students with educational disabilities, such as learning disabilities. School facilities such as a swimming pool, playing fields and hard courts, pastoral care, nurse, guidance and other support services are comprehensive to facilitate the operation of the school and enhance student learning. External speakers, field trips and competitions build upon the education that is delivered by teachers at the school.
Part of the research was to investigate leadership attributes of the principal at the ………s chool, and the leadership model adopted. A clear vision is key to any successful school while combining effective communication and practices. The principal of the ……… school claimed through an interview (Appendices 1: Interview questions) that he is inspirational, caring and committed with a clear vision for the school to effectively implement the procedures that are required for quality teaching, learning & development of students and teachers. Both the head of secondary and head of primary also claimed during an interview that they and the principal are professional, inspirational leaders with a range of attributes that senior managers should have in their professional roles.
Leadership is a mix of skills, abilities and experience which a school leader has to offer which helps provide ideas and leading edge leadership to all stakeholders. Definition of “leadership style” provided as a broad view: A Dictionary of Business and Management (2006) (cited Encyclopedia.com, 9th November 2009). Available from: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O18-leadershipstyle.html
“The traits, behavioural tendencies, and characteristics methods of a person in a leadership position. An important dimension of leadership style is the extent to which the leader is willing to delegate responsibility and encourage input from followers; some key styles here are those of the authoritarian leader, democratic leader, and laissez-faire leader”.
A research report conducted by Leithwood et al., (2006) for the National College of School leadership (NCSL) looked at issues relating to effective leadership of English schools where a large proportion of students were from an ethnic minority background. One of the report conclusions from (Leithwood et al., 2006; cited NCSL, 2006, p.3) states that “Those in leadership roles have a tremendous responsibility to get it right” and outlines successful school leadership following research into leadership in schools. The report authors in a review of literature of school leadership study summarise with what they call “strong claims” about school leadership, including school leadership which is seen as very important to improving teaching, and the personal traits of a leader of a school.
Leithwood et al., (2006) claims to successful school leadership relate to the challenges the principal of the Cambridge School faces. The principal claimed that some of his personal traits as a professional and the leader of the school go a long way to providing an effective school for learning. Leithwood et al., (2006) claims to successful leadership in schools is a narrow view of a large empirical report and only provide a small insight in the way school leaders operate their schools effectively.
(PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, 2007, p.8) explains “There is a clear sense amongst school leaders that their role has become more challenging, and that the complexity and range of tasks they are required to undertake has increased greatly in recent years”. A key finding of the research into the role of a school leader complements and backs up Leithwood et.al., (2006) findings where PricewaterhouseCoopper LLP (2007) report findings into school leader’s roles, responsibilities and attributes for developing & managing people, teaching and learning are some of the challenges of a school leader that the principal of the ……… school must deal with each day.
The …….. school recognises the importance to build up the potential for school development with the help of distributing leadership to senior and middle management throughout the school to highly experienced teachers. Management at the ………. school is devolved to senior management consisting of the head of secondary/curriculum leader, head of primary/kindergarden, and middle managers that act as curriculum area leaders responsible for teacher leadership and other effective management tasks that influence student and teacher learning & development. Harris (2003) explains that continued and sustainable improvements in schools depends on leadership experience and capabilities of a number of teachers and support staff, and teaching is more successful when leadership is instructionally focused and situated close to the classroom.
Head’s of primary & secondary schools along with the curriculum area leaders are responsible for learning and development of teachers and students in their age range and subject areas of responsibility. As there is distributed leadership the research additionally proposes to investigate how effective distributed leadership at the school is to guide, support and lead teachers to effectively transfer knowledge to students enabling good student grades.
The Supreme Educational Council in Qatar is responsible for all educational standards in schools, colleges and universities and is presently implementing radical changes to greatly improve educational standards in Qatar. Schools such as the ……… school require a comprehensive management structure in place with full documentation detailing development plans for teacher training, student learning and a strategy to help deliver effective learning according to their educational operating licence issued. Teachers and management do not require at present to be formally trained teachers in the international school sector, although all state schools in Qatar require management and teachers to be registered and qualify over a 3 year period, which came into affect in March 2009. Teacher and management qualifications may become a requirement for all international schools, including the Cambridge School according to the principal (April 2009).
With the Supreme Education Council implementing a new education era in Qatar, it is evident that a number of mandatory changes are being implemented throughout all schools in the country when required. At present it is not apparent if school teacher and management licensing affects international schools and teachers that are qualified in their home countries, which could have a negative effect on recruitment and retention and teacher commitments.
Finally, with the ………. school stating they provide an education that develops the whole student in an academic, cultural, physical and moral way, what evidence is there to support this for the vast majority of students? Resources are in place for extra curricular activities for sports, clubs and external visits; although it would appear from initial research that a proportion of the student body is not able to access these development opportunities for more than one reason. An example of little access to extra curricular activities is that the school finishes at 1pm each day and on Sunday and Tuesday each week student’s have a range of opportunities to participate in a club of their choice that is run at the school. Although club activities are provided a little over 50% of the students travel to the school and home each day by the school bus provided that leaves at 1.10pm, not leaving any opportunity for the school students that travel by bus to participate in extra curricular activates at the school.
Leadership, learning and development for students and teachers at the Cambridge School appear to be distributed and the school leadership team stated that they promote inspirational learning, professionalism and leadership in their respective educational areas. British qualified teachers are employed and have the responsibility to deliver British curriculum subjects to help with effectively teaching multi ethnic students that arrive at the school each day. With more than 50 different student nationalities with English as a second or third language attending the school a question is how effective is the teaching and training of teachers to effectively provide quality learning to students.
Written by: Education Tay