'Principals now face higher expectations'

'Principals now face higher expectations'
Taking part in a handbell performance are some of the principals who attended the appointment and appreciation ceremony at the Shangri-La Hotel yesterday. In all, 61 principals received appointment letters.

Sack the principal, a parent posted on Education Minister Heng Swee Keat's Facebook page.

Mr Heng yesterday shared the example of the post, which he deleted, to illustrate how principals nowadays have to cope with higher expectations - and sometimes unreasonable demands - from better-educated parents.

It is against this backdrop that principals have to better engage parents, he said at the appointment and appreciation ceremony for principals yesterday.

To do so, they have to "redefine" their role as leaders in education, he added.

"Imagine you are in a room of CEOs and parents in various fields of endeavour. You stand out and are respected because of your insights, deep understanding and accumulated wisdom as a leader in education," he told principals and educators at the ceremony at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Principals must be open to new ideas in teaching and learning, and have the wisdom to decide which practices will work in Singapore's context, he said.

He noted that schools here are already testing novel ideas. For instance, as part of the Education Ministry's language and reading programme in primary schools, Strategies for English Language Learning and Reading, teachers dress up as characters in books to motivate students to read.

In mathematics, schools are testing various methods to make the subject come alive through pictures and hands-on activities.

"The rare combination of being open to new ideas... and having a real touch and feel of what works... allows our leaders in education to make the right decisions," Mr Heng noted.

Also, students' social and emotional needs must be met by building their confidence and exposing them to new interests.

Principals agreed that the newer generation of parents have higher expectations.

Changkat Changi Secondary School principal Yeow Lee Lin, 51, said: "In the past, parents accepted schools' decisions. Now, they want to know why processes are followed and how they can better support their child."

At the ceremony yesterday, 61 principals received their appointment letters. They included at least 10 senior principals picked to head schools in the heartland in a closely watched rotation exercise earlier this year. There were 26 newly appointed principals.

The event also honoured 23 principals and former principals who are retiring or leaving the ministry. Mrs Chin Shin Wea, in her early 60s, is this year's longest-serving retiring principal, having chalked up 42 years in the education service. She has headed five primary schools, including Kranji Primary and Loyang Primary. "I will miss the children the most - they are the reason I became a teacher," she said.

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