School culture, leadership and language development in a Chinese-International School

George Scorgie

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The international education landscape continues to shift and evolve. Central to this is an increase in the number of schools offering international education curricula, an increasing diversity of schools, and more host nation students opting to study in international schools or schools offering international curricula. Educationally rooted in Western Constructivist education traditions, international curricula often differ greatly from local student’s and teacher’s prior educational experiences or expectations. This includes aspects of international mindedness such as the acceptance and celebration of diverse beliefs and traditions and a focus on English or other European languages as the language of instruction and assessment. Successfully navigating this changing educational landscape therefore requires schools to build cultures, and practice leadership, that blends both international and local language, ideas, identity and practices, effectively straddling the many realities of school communities.

Using an ethnographic case study approach, this research explores how school culture, leadership, and Chinese/English bilingualism develop in a new hybrid Chinese international secondary school in Beijing, China. Key findings from this research include the importance of school identity in guiding individual ideas and practices with these subsequently forming the bedrock for successful leadership and school culture building. Similarly, key findings on the development of English/Chinese bilingualism suggest cultural factors such the avoidance of public embarrassment must be key considerations for scaffolding effective language learning, alongside a whole school approach to building a successful bilingual program.

Contributing to the field of educational leadership in international education, this research illustrates the vital role of school leaders as the connection point between school goals, school culture and the everyday practices and experiences of teachers, students and parents within the school community. Similarly, this research highlights the need for school leaders in international contexts to actively articulate school identity and consistently lead and manage culture building.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Smith, David, Principal Supervisor
  • Fenton, Angela, Principal Supervisor
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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