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Relationship Between Principals’ Instructional Leadership and School Effectiveness. Does It Make a Difference? Evidence from the Maldives

SHAFEEU, ISMAIL (2019) Relationship Between Principals’ Instructional Leadership and School Effectiveness. Does It Make a Difference? Evidence from the Maldives. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The question why some public schools that educate students with similar capabilities produce very good results while others fail to do so is widely discussed in the education literature. Coleman claimed that schools do little to make a difference in students’ academic achievement and that the socioeconomic status and educational level of the family is far more significant than internal school conditions. Despite huge public expenditure on education, students’ academic achievement in the lower secondary school completion examination is one of the challenges faced by Maldivian schools. To overcome the issue of low achievement, the Ministry of Education introduced various changes to the education sector. As one key strategy, targets have been set and due recognition is being given to schools that achieve 60 per cent passes in five or more subjects in the secondary school completion examination.

Though inspiring and ambitious, it was anticipated that it would not be easy to achieve the intended policy outcome. Therefore, to overcome the challenges associated with the implementation of this policy, the Educational Supervision and Quality Improvement Division (ESQID) of the Ministry of Education prepared an action plan that identified factors that could be influential in improving pupils’ attainment. One of the key factors highlighted for improvement by the Ministry of Education was school leadership. Before this policy, the job of school principals was focused on managing the administrative work of the school. However, with the new policy, principals were required to lead and support the instructional activities of the school much more. This has led principals working in the schools of the Maldives to switch their job from the more commonly practised administrative role to the academic aspects of the school.

Research in educational leadership and management is important for educational improvement. However, Gorard has stated that the field of educational leadership research is inward-looking and rather unwilling to investigate the real effect of leadership on students’ attainment itself. By taking this criticism into account, this study explained the relationship between principals’ instructional leadership and students’ attainment in the Maldives. In addition to this, the thesis also estimated whether instructional leadership can make a difference in students’ achievement in the schools of the Maldives.

The cases used in this study comprise the full population of teachers working in all public secondary schools in the Maldives. This involves 6,047 teachers from 185 schools across the Maldives. A questionnaire was developed based on Hallinger’s Principals’ Instructional Management Rating Scale (PIMRS) and was administered to gather data about the principals’ instructional leadership. Just over 81 per cent of the teachers responded to the survey. Local community background characteristics, prior primary attainment for each school and individual students’ secondary school results were obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Education.

The results showed that 68 per cent of the teachers reported their principals as demonstrating effective instructional leadership at the school, of the kind that should influence student attainment according to theory. This is so, largely irrespective of the principals’ background characteristics such as gender and experience. The Pearson correlation between students’ secondary school attainment and principals’ instructional leadership (r = 0.62) suggests a reasonably strong link. However, this does not indicate that there is a causal relationship between principals’ instructional leadership and students’ attainment at secondary level for a number of reasons explained in the thesis, including that leaders may be assessed differently by staff in successful and less successful schools. Therefore, binary logistic regression models were used to assess the extent that leadership could contribute to students’ achievement once the student and community backgrounds were considered (including prior attainment). The results of this analysis suggest that students’ prior attainment at primary grades, and school context variables such as the employment of the community and the educational level of the community, play a far greater role than principals’ instructional leadership in students’ secondary school achievement.

The findings of this study re-emphasised the importance of quality primary education and disadvantages in education linked to the socioeconomic status of the school community. Therefore, the Ministry of Education, school leaders and the island authorities should work together to minimise differences in educational outcomes in island communities. Besides this, the Ministry of Education also needs to invest in robust educational research projects to gather evidence of what really works in promoting school effectiveness and social justice in education in the small island setting of the Maldives.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:instructional leadership, school effectiveness, school leadership, educational management, educational effectiveness, education in the Maldives, school effectiveness in the Maldives, principals leadership in the Maldives, instructional leadership in the Maldives
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:05 Jun 2019 13:10

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