Middle leadership in Catholic primary schools: Religious faith, instructional leadership and servant leadership


Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Exploring middle leaders’ attitudes toward religious faith is an important subject for educational researchers. This is the first study to explore the relationships between religious faith, leadership styles, and duties of middle leaders in Catholic Hong Kong primary schools. Although local Catholic school leaders may consider that servant leadership is more compatible with their faith, instructional and servant leadership styles are not mutually exclusive. Leadership practices, roles, and duties are intertwined. Leaders, with or without religious faith, may have a similar impact on their leadership practices, as well as the academic versus non-academic aspects of student outcomes. Therefore, this study examined the tentative variations through the lens of religious faith, the role of leadership, and leadership practices (i.e., servant leadership and instructional leadership). The researcher adopted a case study approach using qualitative data collected from semi-structured interviews of two principals, fourteen middle leaders, and four groups of regular teachers (half novice teachers and half experienced teachers) with or without religious faith in two Catholic primary schools. The results indicated that the words of God had a considerable effect on the middle leaders in Catholic primary schools. They could feel the power of faith, hope, and love in their souls and be thus eager to take the lead to serve others. This study contributes to the literature in clarifying the effect of religion on educational leadership styles and practices. Religious faith acts as a chain to connect the inner serving heart and the outer instructional leadership practices. A synergy of the two leadership styles showed empirically more profound effects and practically more admirable than either leadership styles theoretically implied. However, further investigation on such a synergy is warranted for a sustainable school development for all Catholic or religious schools in Hong Kong. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • KO, Yue On James, Supervisor
  • CHENG, Chi Keung Eric, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Middle leadership
  • Religious faith
  • Instructional leadership
  • Servant leadership
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2020.


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