School leadership in the United Arab Emirates: A scoping review

Joseph Rai, Marie Beresford-Dey (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Global research identifies school leadership as a critical factor in school success and effectiveness, especially in an educational reform environment with an ever-increasing number of schools working within public–private partnerships, a feature that characterises the United Arab Emirates. To aid leadership development and practices in a fast-moving education context and to underpin future empirical research, this scoping review of the literature from across three databases provides practitioners and policymakers with an understanding of school leadership for the public–private sector in the United Arab Emirates. Our search yielded 38 publications for analysis. Findings indicate that over the last 20 years, school leadership research in the United Arab Emirates has mainly focused on four themes: (1) context: leaders’ roles and school reform; (2) competency: hiring and professional development of school leaders; (3) characteristics: leadership styles and (4) capacity building: teacher leadership. We conclude with recommendations for research, including exploring cultural, relational, and compassionate school leadership through indigenous paradigms. We also provide recommendations for policy and practice, including the need to modify recruitment methods, equip school leaders to lead reform through advanced models of leadership to suit the collectivist United Arab Emirates culture, and align professional development with the professional standards.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalEducational Management Administration and Leadership
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Dec 2023


  • School leadership
  • principalS
  • United Arab Emirates
  • scoping review
  • private schools
  • public-private partnership schools


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