43 schools to get new principals in reshuffle

Nine are from MOE HQ - highest number of officers to be moved to head schools recently

Mr Melvin Cher will become principal of Northoaks Primary School.
Mr Melvin Cher will become principal of Northoaks Primary School.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MELVIN CHER

An annual reshuffle of principals will see 43 schools next year with new leaders, including nine from the Ministry of Education (MOE) headquarters.

It is the highest number of officers to be moved from the headquarters to head schools in recent years, according to checks by The Straits Times.

The number of such transfers ranged from three to seven in the past five years.

A spokesman for MOE said: "School leaders are typically rotated to MOE headquarters for exposure and to gain insights into macro-level education policies and strategic issues.

"These perspectives will be helpful in fostering a greater appreciation of headquarter policies, so that they are better equipped to translate policies to ground practices when they return to schools."

The nine MOE officers returning to schools have previously held school leadership appointments as principals or vice-principals, said the spokesman.

One of them is Mr Melvin Cher Teck Yiang, 42, deputy director of MOE's pre-school education branch in the schools division, who will become principal of Northoaks Primary School.

The former vice-principal of Rosyth School said being familiar with policy work will come in handy in his new and first appointment as principal.

"I have a better sense of how policies are made and I think this will help in communicating changes to school staff," said Mr Cher.

He will continue to be involved in pre-school matters to some extent, as Northoaks Primary houses an MOE kindergarten.

"I will work with the pre-school teachers and support them in running the centre," he said, adding that he hopes to get a chance to try out ideas that could help ease the transition of pre-school children into primary school.

"We have a lot to learn from how pre-school environments are set up and some of their teaching approaches - some of these can be applied to Primary 1 and Primary 2 classes in particular," said Mr Cher.

"For instance, a pre-school classroom is very vibrant; we want children to feel welcome and engaged. There's a lot of emphasis on experiential learning and getting children to be curious about the world around them, and to ask questions.

"These are good habits and dispositions for learning that apply to primary school children."

In a statement yesterday, MOE said that the process of appointing and rotating principals allows schools to benefit from new perspectives. Experienced principals can also share best practices across schools, it added.

As part of the reshuffle, St Andrew's Secondary School and Guangyang Primary School will be among 23 schools to have first-time principals.

Among them is Madam Foo Boon Ching, who will head Yangzheng Primary School. She is currently vice-principal of Pei Tong Primary School.

The officers from MOE headquarters making the move include Mr Tham Kine Thong, director of school operations policy in MOE's schools division. He will be heading St Andrew's Junior College.

Madam Yvonne Teo, deputy director of assessment policy and practice in MOE's curriculum policy office, will move to lead Bedok View Secondary School.

In its statement, MOE said: "For the 23 newly appointed principals, this is an important career milestone as they assume greater responsibilities as leaders in education.

"For the 20 current principals and headquarter officers who will be assuming new principalship appointments, it is an affirmation of MOE's confidence in their abilities to continue leading and guiding our teachers, staff and students in schools."

The 43 new principals will receive their letters of appointment from MOE's director-general of education Wong Siew Hoong at a ceremony in December, to be attended by Education Minister Lawrence Wong.

At the ceremony, MOE will also acknowledge the contributions of retiring principals and senior education officers from its headquarters who have formerly served as principals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2020, with the headline '43 schools to get new principals in reshuffle'. Print Edition | Subscribe