Curious About The New Principal In Your Child’s Secondary School?

Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

Should you be concerned if the secondary school that your child is considering — or is currently studying in — will undergo a change in leadership?

First, we need to understand how a school’s principal could affect your child’s learning experience. Below are the key roles that school leaders might play:

  • Defining a vision of academic success for the school
  • Ensuring that the school environment is safe and conducive for learning
  • Boosting staff morale, so that staff feel motivated to work towards the school’s vision
  • Serving as a mentor for staff and students
  • Overseeing school processes and implementing improvements where needed

Just like in any other profession, you may have heard about poorly managed school environments where teachers are languishing in comfort zones, or worse, feeling overworked and underappreciated. In high-needs schools with a larger proportion of learning and discipline issues, you might have observed that the staff seem to be barely coping, especially in these trying Covid-19 times.

That said, you are limited in your perspective as an external observer, and it will be difficult for you to assess if a school principal is truly doing a good job. For simplicity, you could look at a school’s performance in milestone exams such as the O- and N-Levels, but new principals will also need time to turn things around — and results may not be their topmost priority.

Perhaps more crucial than results is a principal’s commitment to strengthening the school culture. Where school culture is concerned, there are two things that parents can look out for. First, what are the principal’s plans for creating a deeper sense of belonging among students, teachers, and the wider stakeholder community, such as parents and alumni? To find out, here are some questions that you could put across to a new principal during a meet-the-parents webinar:

  • What are your plans to make the school environment more welcoming and enticing for students? Are there plans to create community spaces for students to build friendships beyond the classroom? (This could be as simple as designating a space in the canteen for games such as chess, subject to prevailing social distancing guidelines.)
  • How will you use data to improve outcomes for students? 
  • What efforts will you take to protect the mental health of teaching staff — especially during Covid-19 — to prevent exhaustion and burnout?
  • How will you build the parent volunteer or alumni community?

Second, you can also enquire about the school’s goals, and whether teachers and students are aware of their role in fulfilling the school’s vision. For instance, in a school where students are taught the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” there may be numerous posters on the school walls to remind students to live by these daily habits.

Some questions that you can ask include:

  • Will the school be reassessing or changing its vision statement under the new leadership?
  • Currently, what are the school’s biggest challenges? What areas will be addressed first, and in what ways?
  • Will there be new opportunities for students, so that they can grow in the areas outlined by the school vision?
  • Are students taught to set academic and non-academic goals in line with the school vision? How is this implemented in the classroom, and how will students track their progress?

Finally, don’t forget that principals need care just as much as anyone else. In fact, you can think of principals as the “heart of the education system” — if they are not thriving, you can be sure that the school will falter too. To show your concern for the new principal, you could ask questions such as “How can parents help to ease your transition into the school?” or “What can parents do to support you?”

In December 2021, 35 secondary schools will see the appointment of new principals. For your convenience, we have included information on these schools and their new principals in the table below. Where available, we have also provided links to the incoming principal’s bio or CV. Do note that two of the listed schools — Fuchun Secondary School and the School of Science and Technology (both marked with an asterisk) — will not be participating in the Secondary 1 posting process.

We hope that this information will be helpful to you, whether you are at the point of helping your child to research secondary schools, or are feeling slightly unsettled about the impending change in your child’s school. It may help to realise that principals alone do not have the power to make or break a school. As a parent, you can certainly make a difference, so don’t hesitate to step up and lend a hand.

Secondary School New Principal (Dec 2021) Previous Role Details
Anderson Secondary School Miss Tan Po Chin Vice-Principal, Bedok South Secondary School  
Bartley Secondary School Miss Britta Seet Ying Ling Vice-Principal, Nanyang Girls’ High School  
Beatty Secondary School Mr Harman Johll Vice-Principal, National Junior College Profile
Bowen Secondary School Mr Loh Chih Hui Vice-Principal, Greendale Secondary School  
CHIJ Katong Convent Mdm Hilda Tan Hwee Tsian Principal, Meridian Secondary School  
Christ Church Secondary School Mr Adrian Tay Juncheng Vice-Principal, Eunoia Junior College Profile
Chung Cheng High School (Main) Mr Terence Yao Zhixuan Vice-Principal, Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School Profile
Chung Cheng High School (Yishun) Mr Chia Guo Hao Vice-Principal, Millennia Institute Profile
Clementi Town Secondary School Mdm Rasidah Bte Rahim Principal, Queenstown Secondary School  
Dunman High School Mr Chan Ying Yin Principal, Chung Cheng High School (Main)  
Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary) Mr Wee Tat Chuen Principal, Geylang Methodist School (Secondary)  
Fuchun Secondary School* Mr Shawal Bin Hussin Principal, Orchid Park Secondary School  
Geylang Methodist School (Secondary) Mr Victor Owyong Tuck Sing Principal, Presbyterian High School  
Greendale Secondary School Mr Sulaiman B Mohamad Yusof Principal, Naval Base Secondary School Profile
Hillgrove Secondary School Mdm Lee Ching Guan Helen Principal, Clementi Town Secondary School  
Junyuan Secondary School Mr Tay Meng Kiat Vice-Principal, Temasek Secondary School  
Jurong West Secondary School Miss Tan Ming Ming Vice-Principal, Westwood Secondary School  
Loyang View Secondary
Mr Eugene Lin Yucheng Principal, Zhenghua Secondary School Profile
Meridian Secondary School Mr Mohamed Razali B Abdul Hamed Principal, Junyuan Secondary School  
Methodist Girls’ School Mrs Valarie Wilson Director, Arts Education, Student Development Curriculum Division Profile
Naval Base Secondary School Mdm Linda Yeo Sock Khoon Vice-Principal, Riverside Secondary School Profile
Northbrooks Secondary School Mr Lau Yan Boon Principal, Christ Church Secondary School  
Northland Secondary School Mr Lim Kok Hwa Principal, Peicai Secondary School  
Orchid Park Secondary School Mr Daniel Chung Kwok Leong Vice-Principal, Gan Eng Seng School  
Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary) Mdm Amy Ng Principal, Greendale Secondary School  
Pei Hwa Secondary School Mr Mohd Azhar B Terimo Principal, Bartley Secondary School  
Peicai Secondary School Mr Muhunthan s/o Subramaniam Principal, Jurong West Secondary School  
Presbyterian High School Mdm Angeline Ong Hui Miin Principal, Hillgrove Secondary School  
Queenstown Secondary School Mr Sim How Chong Vice-Principal, Fuhua Secondary School  
River Valley High School Mdm Choy Wai Yin Director, Guidance, Student Development Curriculum Division  
School of Science and Technology* Mr Chan Choon Loong Principal, Northbrooks Secondary School Profile
Singapore Chinese Girls’ School Mdm Linda Chua Mui Mui Principal, School of Science and Technology  
St. Joseph’s Institution Mr Justin Arul Pierre Cluster Superintendent, Schools Division Profile
West Spring Secondary School Mdm Belinda Yong Li Ling Principal, Pei Hwa Secondary School  
Zhenghua Secondary School Mr Ng Hock Soon Vice-Principal, Queensway Secondary School