In dynamic and fast-paced setting such as a large international school, the quality at which teachers and leaders are professionally developed can mean the difference between chaos and clockwork.
After all, the provision of teaching, and the way staff interact with one another professionally, can have a significant impact on the school’s overall culture and how it is perceived in the wider community.
This is something that Dr Eddie Groughan had in mind when he took on the role of principal at the Australian International School (AIS) in Singapore in August 2017.
One of the reasons he took up the role, said Groughan, was because of the quality of the school’s senior staff.
“I had worked with the in-coming Head of School, Andre Casson, previously, as well as the Head of the Early Learning Village, Adam Patterson, and his Deputy, Rachael Symes,” Groughan told The Educator Asia.
“Given the qualities and professionalism of such people, I knew the school would be exceptionally well-organised. Additionally, being a part of a global family of schools, through Cognita, meant my own learning would be enhanced through drawing experience from colleagues all over the world.”
Five-hundred kilometers north of AIS at the Australia International School Malaysia (AISM), principal, Tim Waley, uses a “distributive” leadership style that involves delegation with clear levels of accountability.
“A wise mentor of mine once said that you cannot be an expert on everything and that in such a role [school principal] it is important to surround yourself with experts in areas that you are not,” Waley told The Educator Asia.
“I operate from such a standpoint because, as a committed lifelong learner, I believe it is critical that others see me as a responsive, responsible and interested leader who is willing to encourage those with skills and capacities to bring them to the fore in order that others will benefit.”
Waley sees a critical part of his role as being able to develop and support staff who have the ability, enthusiasm, drive and vision to take on the challenges of leadership.
“Indeed, the very future of educational leadership in our world depends on my and others’ efforts to progress the aspiring leaders of tomorrow,” he said.
“My mantra is that, in an organisation, no-one is more important than anyone else.
Another school leader, Hong Kong International School (HKIS) Associate Provost, Don Drake, said his school hosts a variety of professional growth opportunities for all educators throughout the South East Asia region.
This, he said, allows school leaders to consider one another’s professional practice and gain a unique insight into how issues around health and well-being are being addressed at the highest levels of school leadership.
“Recent events include our third annual APPEC – [Asia Pacific Physical Educators Conference] targeted towards best practices around physical health and mental wellness,” Drake told The Educator Asia.
“In addition, we held our ninth Annual Literacy conference in support of best practices in Early Childhood and Elementary reading and writing practices in January. We also have a regional conference in Chinese Studies related to the Language Acquisition and Articulation.”
High on HKIS’s list of educational priorities is assuring “an excellent quality of education” for all of the school’s students as well as the continuous improvement of professional practice.
“We strive to provide a dynamic learning-based culture where all educators can experience significant professional and career growth,” Drake said.