Forum: School heads should get to know their students

Students from Spectra Secondary School attend a briefing before the collection of their N-level examination results.
Students from Spectra Secondary School attend a briefing before the collection of their N-level examination results.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Singapore's education system has evolved for the better over the years. Many praiseworthy teachers have been recognised for their work.

Most students remember their teachers with fond or bad memories, such is the importance of teachers' impact on students.

But many students do not have much to think of or say when it comes to their principals and vice-principals (VPs). Many may not even have spoken to the school heads throughout their time in school.

Principals and VPs should not have just an administrative role in school. It is equally important that they convey care and concern for and interest in their students.

At my daughter's primary school, I was amazed at the attention the principal and vice-principal showed to the pupils. Either the principal or VP would be at the school gate every morning. They would also be at the canteen during recess to interact with the pupils.

Between the two of them, they seemed to know every child by name. In all six years of primary school, almost every child would have interacted with either the principal or VP.

While the roles of the principal, VP and teachers are different, showing care for and interest in the students is not just the role of teachers.

Assembly sessions before school and recess times are great opportunities for principals and VPs to try to get to know the students. While it may not be possible to know every student, their presence among the students would already convey a positive impression.

I have heard of a secondary school principal who keeps an open communication channel with students via e-mail, and encourages feedback and ideas that receive personal replies.

My daughter started secondary school last year and the school has a principal and three VPs.

Compared with her primary school's principal and VP, I cannot say with confidence that between the four of them, they know almost every student in the school.

It is my hope that as more teachers rise to become principals and VPs, they do not forget to show the same care and concern for their students.

Irene Louis

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2020, with the headline 'School heads should get to know their students'. Print Edition | Subscribe