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Rural education in Saudi Arabia: secondary school leaders’ and teachers’ experiences and perceptions

Alotaibi, E. M. (2023) Rural education in Saudi Arabia: secondary school leaders’ and teachers’ experiences and perceptions. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00113033


The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is undergoing fundamental reforms in all areas, including public education, to keep pace with the critical changes brought about by globalisation. There is a growing corpus of literature investigating these systemic shifts in urban settings, while a small amount of research has been conducted in rural educational settings. Compared to their urban and semi-rural counterparts, rural schools are still neglected on a global scale regarding different reform proposals. There are around 3200 schools situated in 1128 rural locations in Saudi Arabia. Rural schools have numerous challenges, particularly in terms of leadership practice, culture, and opportunities for school leaders’ and teachers’ professional development. Even so, there is a lack of ground-level research investigating these concerns in detail. Therefore, this study aims to fill this knowledge gap by exploring and understanding the experiences and perceptions of school leaders and teachers working in rural Saudi schools. Although there is a growing corpus of literature on topics like school leadership, school culture, and CPD, few published studies focus on rural schools. Adopting an in-depth multiple case study approach within a theoretical framework based on the interconnected notions of leadership practice, culture, and CPD, this study makes an original and substantial contribution to the body of knowledge in this field. This research entails multiple qualitative case studies (three girls’ secondary schools and three boys’ secondary schools), employing one-to-one semi-structured interviews with 12 school leaders (six school principals and six deputies), 12 teachers, two school leadership supervisors (one female and one male), and two training supervisors (one female and one male), six semi-structured focus group interviews (five teachers each), and documentary reviews. The findings reveal that leadership in rural schools is unique in terms of challenges and opportunities and suggest that an understanding of these issues is essential for successful school leadership. The cultural aspect also revealed the extent of its impact on these schools, both at the macro level (global, national, and local) and the micro level (within the walls of schools), and suggests that these issues need to be fully understood by school leaders for successful community integration. Finally, high-quality continuing professional development is perceived as essential for rural school staff, although more specifically tailored training programmes are needed. This study is considered essential for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers and has provided the first clear picture of the nature of rural Saudi schools within the country.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Floyd, A.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:113033


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