Organizational structure of schools

Updated April 17, 2017

Schools can have several types of organizational structures. Some of these structural frameworks include traditional or bureaucratic, loosely coupled systems and interdisciplinary team organisation (ITO). The structure of the school can affect teachers' attitudes towards teaching and work satisfaction, as well as the graduation rate of the students.

Bureaucratic Model

A traditional or bureaucratic school structure focuses on a top-down approach. Decision-making starts at the top with the policies of the school district and works its way down to principals and finally to teachers. It is highly structured, and the teacher's role in decision-making is limited.

Loosely Coupled Systems

In a loosely coupled organizational structure, teachers have a great deal of autonomy. However, there may not be much goal setting on the part of the school or fluidity between departments.

Interdisciplinary Team Organization (ITO)

In an interdisciplinary team organisation (ITO) structure, teachers from two or more fields have a common planning period and work as a team with a shared body of students. This form of structure is most commonly used in middle schools, but is also sometimes used in high schools. Interdependent collaboration can have a beneficial effect on teacher morale and the quality of presentation.


A study conducted by researchers from the University of Hawaii and published in the "American Journal of Education" concluded that a school's structure could measurably affect student performance.

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About the Author

Scott Wolfenden began writing in 2006 on the subject of mental health. He has written a book on ADHD, children's mental health, education and parenting partially based on experience teaching in public schools. He blogs for Learning Things, an educational products website. He graduated from Thomas Edison State College with a Bachelor of Arts in social science and additional coursework in psychology.