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Governance at FIS
Using a hybrid approach to ensure the success of our school
Who should govern a school? This is a heavily debated question in the world of education, and two contrasting perspectives dominate the academic literature: the stakeholder model and the skills-based model.
The stakeholder model of governance advocates that those invested in the success of a school and its students should be represented on the school board. This frequently includes parents, faculty members, school administrators and members of the local community. Used widely in European national school systems, the stakeholder model promotes a democratic and inclusive approach to school governance.
The Board of Trustees at FIS successfully brings together the advantages of both the stakeholder and skills-based models of governance.
Critics of the stakeholder model, including the current government of the United Kingdom, argue that schools should be governed only by those with relevant professional skills and experience. In fact, the English education system is currently experiencing a shift from the stakeholder model towards skills-based governance, in which governing bodies appoint new board members to  ll a speci c gap in their skill set. It has been argued, however, that this corporate approach to school governance silences parents and avoids democratic accountability.
International schools face several unique challenges when it comes to their governance. The transient nature of the international expatriate community means that boards can be subject to a high turnover, and the wide diversity of cultures and nationalities within a school community can make fair representation di cult to achieve. Furthermore, successful international school governance simultaneously requires local expertise and a global outlook. So, what is the most e ective governance model for international schools?
A 2014 study by Chris James and Paul Sheppard, published in the Journal of School Leadership and Management, suggests that a hybrid model of elected stakeholders and appointed board members allows schools to experience the bene ts of each model. Stability, expertise and institutional memory can be supported by the appointment of board members who ful l speci c criteria, whereas elections involve the school community in the way the school is governed.
FIS follows this hybrid model: six members of the Board of Trustees are elected by the parent community;  ve members are appointed by the Board; and one member is elected by the faculty. Appointed board member, Dr. Stephan Falk, explains why he feels this approach works: “The [Board of Trustees] should re ect the diversity of the FIS community...and yet has to ensure stability and continuity for the long-term strategic planning and decisions. Therefore it is prudent to have a mixture of elected and appointed members who may also be chosen for some special skills or because they represent an important segment of the FIS community.”
This view is echoed by Lizette Chapa, an elected board member: “The advantage [of a hybrid model] is two-fold. One is the possibility to make sure that the Board has the right mix of backgrounds and skills. We need diversity in terms of skills, nationalities, cultures and gender. Also, given that we have many expatriate families, and these come and go, we need to ensure that we have long-term representation of members with the right expertise and local community relationships. That provides continuity and at the same time, frequent ‘new blood’.”
The Board of Trustees at FIS successfully brings together the advantages of both the stakeholder and skills-based models of governance. Both elected and appointed, highly motivated and well-quali ed parents, teachers and administrators are integrated as one governing body in order to ful ll the FIS mission of being the leading, culturally diverse and family-oriented international school.
Leila Holmyard FIS World Sta 
An example of skills-based governance: FIS Board members representing di erent nationalities and professional backgrounds
4 FIS World May 2017

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