Time needed to build up a school's brand

As an anthropologist, I am intrigued as to why old boys and girls of "branded" schools maintain their school's ties and traditions (rituals, songs, ethos) even when the school is relocated, while those from neighbourhood schools don't.

Is it because neighbourhood schools lack a "creation myth" - a sense of achievement, history or continuity?

Why would students and teachers in neighbourhood schools bother to make them the good or even elite schools of tomorrow if their school could be closed at a whim?

Falling enrolment happens in any maturing estate. Why not let neighbourhood schools age in place and with grace?

Rather than close the schools, this would be the perfect opportunity to extend a junior college-style environment and facilities to secondary and even primary school students.

For instance, class sizes could be reduced. Achievement (which is not the same as exam results) will improve as children are given due attention.

A "brand" develops.

Previous students will send their children there, strengthening old school ties. New families moving into the catchment area will rejuvenate the neighbourhood.

Perhaps we could have "family age" quotas for estates, or monetary incentives for people to move into ageing areas.

Schools are not factories. Traditions can happen only if there is political will to let it.

Lee Siew Peng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2018, with the headline 'Time needed to build up a school's brand'. Print Edition | Subscribe