Singapore

Leadership programme to send pre-school principals on overseas stints

Published: 4:05 AM, April 28, 2016
Updated: 10:45 AM, April 28, 2016

SINGAPORE — A two-week visit to Boston in the United States, incorporating mentorship sessions and attachments to early childhood organisations, will be among the key features of a new leadership programme targeting 150 pre-school principals, comprising around 10 per cent of the total here.

This six-month stint is for school leaders who have been principals for between three and 10 years. Educators told TODAY it will support the lack of training in “soft skills” and mentorship for principals, who are also getting younger.

Expected to cost S$16,000 per person, and to run over the next three years, the Principal Matters programme is funded by the Lien Foundation in collaboration with SEED Institute, Wheelock College from the US, SIM University, as well as human resource consultancy firm Korn Ferry Hay Group.

Applications are currently open, and the programme will kick off in August

SEED Institute’s academic director Ho Yin Fong noted the shifting trends in the sector, including how principals have to manage more teachers and students from different backgrounds and learning needs.

For NTUC (National Trades Union Congress) First Campus pre-schools, the median age of principals is now around the 30s, compared with the 40s about 10 to 15 years ago, she said. SEED Institute was set up by the NTUC to train and support early childhood professionals.

“We see the increasing need to invest in our principals to ensure that they not only have the knowledge and skills … but the management and human relationship tools and to apply their knowledge and put them into effective practice,” Ms Ho added.

Chiltern House principal Iris Lim said that while principals would have acquired technical knowledge from their professional training, newly minted leaders would benefit from a mentor who could help them put knowledge into practice and acquire communication skills to work with parents.

Ms Chan Yinjie, 29, who has been a principal at NTUC’s My First Skool for more than three years, observed that the challenges for a young school leader include leading and working with colleagues from different backgrounds.

“This (programme) could be a solution in the long run to retain staff members,” Ms Chan said. “With the right principal, people will be more committed to stay. The work we are doing is not easy and the right support needs to (be there).”

Speaking at the programme’s launch yesterday, Lien Foundation chief executive Lee Poh Wah noted that this initiative is timely for the expanding pool of pre-school leaders who are relatively young, as the Government ramps up the capacity for the early childhood education sector.

For instance, the number of pre-school centres increased from 1,348 in 2010 to 1,695 as of July last year. The growth took place amid the sector’s tight labour pool, which will see more teachers promoted to leadership positions.

Interested applicants may visit www.principalmatters.sg for more information.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this story said applications for the Principal Matters programme open next month. This is incorrect. Applications are currently open. We apologise for the error.