Leading international schools - a tragedy. Theorising leadership practice for sustainable development.

Submission deadline date: 17 March 2023


Educational leadership in private K-12 English-medium of instruction ‘international schools’ is viewed as under researched and almost completely under theorised. What little is known of this educational leadership sector points to a global growth phenomenon characterised normatively by ‘International values’, ‘transition’, and ‘inter-culturalism’ yet descriptively by precarious tenures, personal enrichment, organisational absolutism, and systemised injustices (Bunnell and Gardner-McTaggart, 2022).

It follows that a special issue of this kind will aim to generate helpful theoretical contributions to fulfil three main objectives:

Act 1. How International Schools leadership got here, and what brought them to this point
Setup: Exposition, Inciting Incident, 

Act 2. The tensions surrounding International Schools leadership, how great growth and deepening crises have exacerbated this. 
Confrontation: Rising Action, Midpoint, 

Act 3. Theoretical modelling for positive futures and what they are.
Resolution: Pre-Climax, Climax, Denouement.

The keen reader will recognise the organisational structure of a Tragedy and this is intentional, as the main protagonist of a tragedy is not evil, nor maligned. It is circumstance and consequence of birth and surroundings that conspire towards ill repute and destruction. A Tragedy acts in society as both a warning of dangers that may be inevitable, yet with the death of the protagonist, it also plants a seed of hope for change. By analogy, this special issue seeks to better understand the dangers that beset the educational leader in the increasingly franchised and internationalised context (Bunnell, 2022), and provide the theoretical framework to bring about a demise (a death) of uninformed and under intellectualised practice providing theoretical direction on how to grow and lead for a more positive future (Bunnell, 2021; Gardner-McTaggart, 2021, 2022). 

This special issue seeks contributions from different geographical contexts for a comparative view in order to explore the tensions and dualities in this emerging and globally influential educational paradigm. Fundamentally, this collection aims to make the significant theoretical contribution to understanding educational leadership in international schools in our time. It places its focus on sustainable forms of leadership rooted in professionalism, collegiality and social practice, in a demanding sector, in challenging times. The editors particularly welcome contributions which align with one of the three acts outlined above, and draw upon social theory and/or educational philosophy to provide cogent insight into this unique sector. 

Authors are encouraged to submit pieces of no longer than 8,000 words, including references.

List of topic areas

  • Sustainable development
  • Educational leadership
  • International schools


Submissions information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at:   https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ijced 

Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see:   https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/ijced#author-guidelines

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscript submissions: 25 November 2022
Closing date for manuscript submissions: 17 March 2023    



Bunnell, T. (2021). Leadership of ‘messy, tense International Schools’: The potential scope for a fresh, positive lens of inquiry. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 24(4), 558-570.
Bunnell, T. (2022). The crypto-growth of ‘International Schooling’: Emergent issues and implications. Educational Review, 74(1), 39-56.
Bunnell, T., & Gardner-McTaggart, A. (2022). The cultural capital of senior leaders in elite traditional international schools: An enduring ‘leadership nobility’? International Journal of Leadership in Education.
Gardner-McTaggart, A. (2021). Washing the world in whiteness. International schools policy. International Journal of Leadership in Education.
Gardner-McTaggart, A. (2022). Educational leadership and global crises; reimagining planetary futures through social practice. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 25(4), 647-663.