School leader's strategy counts

Anglican High School's principal Maureen Lee (centre) with teachers Audrey Chua (in white) and Lee Yilian. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

At the end of each year, all Anglican High School teachers are asked for their preferences for the new year - what level of students they want to take, which co-curricular activities (CCAs) and committees they are keen on. And, almost all the time, they get their first choices.

This is one of the ways Madam Maureen Lee, the principal, tries to deploy teachers - according to their strengths and interests.

Chemistry teacher Audrey Chua, 38, appreciates this, saying: "Our consensus and feedback are always sought when there's a new policy."

When Madam Lee first joined the school six years ago, she spoke to all teachers to hear their concerns. "They wanted administrative work to be minimised, less duplication of work, and more time to come up with lesson packages," said Madam Lee.

So, she tried to ensure their workload would be planned better; for instance, by marking out hectic seasons like examination periods so that staff meetings and school events can be minimised during those times.

"I also look at CCAs - how intensive their training and competition schedules are - and deploy teachers accordingly," she said. She formed a group of teachers known as "work-life advocates" to help gather feedback from their colleagues. Also, she said, teachers must be given flexibility at different stages of their lives. "The teaching force is getting younger and some are looking after older parents."

For instance, mathematics teacher Lee Yilian, 35, was allowed to reach school half an hour later when she had to take her daughters - aged six and eight - to school.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline School leader's strategy counts. Subscribe