School leadership during the disruptive time of Covid-19: A preliminary case study from China

Wei Zhang, Michelle Striepe, Christine Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents the initial findings of how a Chinese school leader employed educational leadership over an early period during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. The reported research is one case study, part of a larger study that aims to uncover how school leaders in a variety of international contexts, namely China, Bolivia, and Western Australia, managed and responded to the COVID-19 crisis. Qualitative data collection methods were employed to develop insights into the extent to which school leaders’ roles and approaches to leadership changed over the course of the crisis as well as how the leaders’ approaches were influenced by different contextual factors. This paper focuses on initial findings from one case within the Chinese context which indicate that the school leader’s role and leadership approach was centred on supporting student learning, responding to the needs of student wellbeing, and managing parental concerns and needs, which was supported by the school’s teaching staff. Additionally, the paper shows how different contextual factors, more specifically the wider educational system and the parents, influenced the leader’s response to the COVID-19 at the school level. The study offers important insights into how school leaders responded to the disruptive challenge of COVID-19 and the contextual factors that influenced a leader’s approach. Furthermore, the findings will contribute to current theoretical understandings about educational leadership during times of crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-250
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

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