School heads urged to take wider perspective

Principals at the Appointment and Appreciation Ceremony for Principals held at the Shangri-la hotel cheering for the pioneer principals on Dec 30, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Principals at the Appointment and Appreciation Ceremony for Principals held at the Shangri-la hotel cheering for the pioneer principals on Dec 30, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Education Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday urged school principals to focus not just on leading their own schools, but on the national level.

Encouraging them to take a broader perspective of the school system, Mr Heng added that they should not "just be caught up with the here and now, or a singular focus on one's own school".

He urged principals to share ideas and resources with other schools, instead of competing with each other.

"School leaders hand over to another pair of hands," he said. "This enables us to run a marathon, passing the baton, taking the long view, rather than seeing every school as a sprint and competing."

Mr Heng was addressing about 600 educators at the annual appointment and appreciation ceremony for principals at the Shangri-La Hotel.

A total of 52 principals were appointed, with 20 of them new appointments.

He also called on principals to be leaders within the community. Citing an example, Mr Heng said the principals at Fairfield Methodist Secondary and Tampines Primary invite parents to their annual staff retreats and stakeholders' planning sessions. As a result, parents better understand the school's plans and policies better and can also suggest ways to improve them.

"This is really taking the village approach to raising the child," said Mr Heng. "I encourage you to seek out opportunities to engage with parents."

School leaders should also find out what working life is like in companies and understand the skill sets students need to thrive in the work environment.

"Where appropriate, build relationships and networks with these stakeholders, and harness their resources to support school programmes," he said, adding that such collaborations can make learning more authentic for students.