Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the 17th Appointment and Appreciation Ceremony for Principals, Shangri-La Hotel
First, let me thank all of you for the very good work this year. We’ve done a lot, and this year was really a year of consolidating our efforts in Character and Citizenship Education (CCE), on building Every School a Good School, and when we launched our Applied Learning Programme (ALP) and Learning for Life Programme (LLP) this year. During our Work Plan Seminar (WPS), we spoke about developing our teachers. We also held some lovely pioneer tribute events this year, and I’m very happy to see several of our pioneer teachers with us this afternoon.
A very important piece of work that we did was led by SMS Indranee - Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE), which looks at how we can help our students build skills for the future. What is very important is that we are looking beyond things in school and beyond the usual examinations to how we can help our young build deep skills and expertise for the future. I am very happy that that work is going to be taken further under the SkillsFuture Council.
There are lots that we have done this year, but much more to be done in the coming years.Five Roles of School Leaders
In 2012, I laid out the five roles of school leaders: Leading Learning, Leading Culture, Leading Change, Leading People and Leading Nationally.
Leading Learning: Pushing the frontiers of learning, in every domain: the cognitive domain, the development of character and holistic development.
Leading People: Growing ourselves, growing others, and growing our teaching community.
Leading Culture: Inspiring the school towards high levels of professionalism and care, through the school leader’s words and deeds each day.
Leading Change: Bridging change, by showing where changes are needed, by understanding policy intent and translating that intent into effective results, and helping teachers, parents and students see the value of these changes.
Today, I wish to talk about Leading Nationally.
I spoke about four Beliefs at WPS:
- Belief in Your Student as someone who can reach his potential
- Belief in Your Self as a professional who can keeping improving
- Belief in One Another as a teaching community
- Belief in Being Part of Something Larger
Many understand the first three instinctively. What about the fourth?
Someone may have heard this story about a man who came across a group of workers who were laying bricks. He went to the first one and asked “What are you doing?” The first worker said “I’m laying bricks.” He then went to the second worker and asked “What are you doing?” The second worker said “I’m laying bricks with my team to build a wall.” Then he went to the third and asked the same question. The third one answered “I’m helping to build a magnificent cathedral.”
As school leaders, we are building not just our students’ minds, our own careers, or our fraternity’s capacity.
- As MOE motto goes, we are moulding the future of the nation.
It means that we have to see beyond. See what our collective work add up to on a higher level. We have to make that connection between daily work and higher meaning… This is the essence of Leading Nationally.
We can Lead Nationally in three ways:
Go beyond Alone to Altogether. Lead not just your School alone, Lead schools altogether as one School System.
Go beyond Within to Throughout. Lead not just within your School, Lead throughout your Community, by building a relationship of mutual trust and support with parents and the community.
Go beyond Today to Tomorrow. Lead not just for Today, Lead towards Tomorrow.
Going beyond alone to altogether; Beyond within to throughout; Beyond today to tomorrow: This is how you can Lead Nationally as school leaders.
First, how do we go Beyond Alone to Altogether?
I visited many school systems. And the more I visited, the more I realised that we have a unique system.
All schools are part of a national school system. You take up appointments across schools - and see every school as your school.
School leaders can work together to help every school succeed, uplifting the entire system.
School leaders hand over to another pair of hands. This enables us to run a marathon, passing the baton, taking the long view, rather than seeing every school as a sprint and competing in this sprint. In that sense, you are all co-builders of every school. Indeed, this is what this whole Appointment Ceremony is all about. I cannot think of any other system where we appoint our principals this way, where we run the entire national school system.
With such a unique system, how can we go beyond alone, to being co-builders of our national school system?
By sharing ideas
By sharing talent/ resources, and
By growing leaders
- Catholic High has worked with more than 20 schools to customise an online platform for student development. It tracks, manages and reports data helpful for CCE. Catholic High used the feedback to improve its own system. Altogether, the schools gained a deeper appreciation of student needs and school characteristics across our system.
Sharing talent/ resources.
- Earlier this year, Assumption English School’s counsellor left abruptly. Beacon Primary’s Principal Ms Lim Boon Cheng, in the same cluster, worked with HR to move her new Allied Educator over. She felt the other school was in greater need. She exercised leadership to fill the manpower gap with existing resources until a new counsellor was posted in.
Mrs Mary Bay, Principal of Bartley Secondary, is retiring after 39 years of service, including 18 years as principal. Seven HODs and VPs who worked with her have since become Principals. Mr Mohd Azhar Bin Terimo, who will be appointed as Principal of Bartley Secondary today, said “Mrs Bay has been truly inspirational. She believes in a cause larger than herself. She showed humility in listening to her staff to draw ideas from them. She also empowered people, including myself, to give our best and provided us with the necessary support so that we could grow.”
So if we share ideas, if we share talent, if we grow leaders, we can lead in lifting not just our own school, but we can altogether build a national education system that we can all be proud of. This is the first aspect of Leading Nationally.
The second aspect of Leading Nationally is to go Beyond Within to Throughout. How do we do that? I would like our school leaders to think beyond leading your school, to being a leader in your community.
As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. The school leader is one of the trusted people with the values and the heart to help shape this village.
Parents used to defer to principals and teachers. Today, the relationship is different. Expectations are different.
If school leaders Lead Learning, then you are the expert in learning, parents will see you have the knowledge and authority to bring out the best in their children.
To be effective, we need to engage and convince parents, and enlist those who have gone through the journey to work with us.
An example is Fairfield Methodist Secondary and Tampines Primary. They invite parents to their annual staff retreats or stakeholders’ strategic planning sessions, where they help parents understand the school’s plans and policies, and seek inputs to improve school programmes.
This is really taking the village approach to raising the child. I encourage you to seek out opportunities to engage with parents.
Many of our schools are already contributing to the community around them. I take pride in the term “neighbourhood school”. Our schools are in their neighbourhood, they are part of their neighbourhood. My earnest hope is for neighbours around each of our schools to take pride in the schools in their neighbourhood, to know and trust that their students have a heart and love for their neighbourhood, to truly embrace these schools as their neighbourhood schools. The community comes together to make the neighbourhood school work - they take pride in the school. There is a sense of ownership. In turn, the school contributes to life in the community. How do we earn the pride and ownership of the community?
In many big countries, the village school is all that you have, and therefore, the village contributes to the school and the school contributes to the village. In our case, it’s a little more complex, but it can be done. Let me share some examples:
Kranji Secondary collaborates with Yew Tee grassroots groups to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, building ties between the school and its neighbours. The students make yearly outreach efforts to households around their school, sharing information on dengue prevention, and encouraging use of recycled bags at the supermarket.
In Ang Mo Kio, residents are familiar with Ang Mo Kio Secondary students because the students are very active in the community. They work with the elderly and the students in the kindergartens. They even organised a National Day celebration for residents this year. Their Parents Support Group is extremely proud of their students’ involvement in the community, and gets inspired to be active in working with the school.
Jurong Junior College students get immersed in their neighbourhood through many projects, be it befriending the elderly, supporting healthy lifestyles, organising carnivals for children, or understanding resident needs.
We all know the school fair. Loyang Primary takes it further with a “whole neighbourhood fair”. Their Loyang Fiestas attract thousands of residents, and promote healthy living, environmental awareness, and community preparedness. Residents love it and get to know the school better.
These are all good initiatives. I have just listed a few examples, I know that there are many, and I myself have attended many of these. I’m always amazed at how parents are so proud to see their children play their part in the community. I’ve heard parents who said “Wow, I did not know that children in this school are capable of doing this and that!”
My key point is that in all these cases, by reaching out to the community, by contributing to and mobilising the community, the school leader is exercising leadership in the community. This exercise of leadership helps engender pride and a sense of ownership by the residents in your school - the school that is in the neighbourhood. Let the community see and appreciate having your school in their neighbourhood.
The school leader is also providing a good role model to students. Each of these encounters is a real, tangible touchpoint with the community, where your students learn to be young leaders and active citizens.
Beyond the immediate neighbourhood, other organisations - public sector agencies, private sector companies and VWOs are also potentially valuable community resources. Where appropriate, build relationships and networks with these stakeholders, and harness their resources to support school programmes - especially our ALP and LLP programmes. In this way, we can make learning authentic for our students, and prepare them well for the future. Several of our schools - Assumption Pathway School, NorthLight School - have enlisted many committed partners. When I visited Greendale Secondary and observed their ALP earlier this year, I noticed the school has mobilised other corporate and public sector bodies to contribute to their ALP. I was very surprised, a few weeks after this, I met someone at a social event, and he said “I am so proud that my company is contributing to your ALP.” And I said “That’s very good. Contribute more!”
I encourage Principals to find out more about what the community has to offer, and what working life is like in different organisations. Use available opportunities - including Principal’s sabbaticals - to connect with the community, companies and organisations. Gain a first-hand understanding of the working landscape and challenges, the skillsets and dispositions that our students will need to thrive in the future, and how schools can better equip our students to adapt to the world in the future.
In short, the second way of Leading Nationally is to exercise leadership in the community, especially in your immediate neighbourhood.Beyond Today to Tomorrow
Let me now turn to the third aspect of Leading Nationally - which is to go beyond Today to Tomorrow.
This means seeing yourself as a leader in the national context.
This means providing the leadership to equip our students to build a better Singapore for the future.
Each child can succeed only if we as a society succeed. Our young’s sense of identity, their relationships with one another, their choices, will shape Singapore in the future. Will they develop a Singaporean identity? Will they choose to deepen our multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural fabric? Will they be able to master the skills to compete in the global economy? Will they have the character traits to succeed? Will they have civic virtues and a deep sense of social responsibility?
- Identity, relationships, choices. These may sound familiar. They are the themes of CCE, a great way through which we lead towards tomorrow.
Leading Nationally means helping students understand the complex world around us, appreciating changes, and the choices that will shape the future of the world, and of Singapore.
To do so, school leaders need to understand our past - how we got here; our future, the challenges and opportunities; our national context and perspectives.
Then we can craft ways to enable our students to discover for themselves, and to be active citizens, to shape their own future.
What does this mean for school leaders? It means you must think beyond. School leaders need to view issues from the broader perspective of the school system, the wider community, and a longer time frame - not just be caught up with the here and now, or a singular focus on one’s own school and only what goes on within the school.
Students think about their immediate assignment, their immediate exam score. Many of their parents may too.
But from the national perspective, I am not counting on our school leaders to only pass on strong and firm educational foundations.
- I know I can count on you, our school leaders, to pass on more than that.
- As your appointment letter states, the future of the nation passes through your hands.
The principal is in the best position to think beyond lesson plans and exam grades, to whether the students are picking up the right skills to get good jobs in the future, to whether they are building friendships and learning life lessons to be good people in the future, to whether they are growing into outstanding young people who will build a caring, safe, and just society; a society of opportunities; an outstanding society.
Our schools are growing the next Pioneer Generation. Our school leaders give our students the experiences and lessons Today to ready them to create Tomorrow.
School leaders have creative ways of doing so.
- Mdm Daphne Poon, Principal of De La Salle School, came up with a gratefulness movement. Concerned that her students might be taking things for granted, she encourages them to spend five minutes every morning to reflect on three things to be grateful for. Over time, students became more thoughtful and considerate. They conscientiously clear leftover food after meals, return their utensils and plates, and adopt proper toilet etiquette so that the school cleaners’ workload can be lightened.
For initiatives like this, we lay the flagstones for our young to leap from learning and growing Today, to succeeding, serving, and building Tomorrow.Appointments
Let me turn to the appointments of our principals. My heartiest congratulations to 52 Principals we are appointing today.
We have 20 new appointments; and 32 current Principals or HQ officers taking up a new posting.
Take this as your opportunity to practise Leading Nationally.
I would also like to express our special thanks to our 13 Senior Education Officers who are retiring. Together, you have inspired and guided more than 50,000 students and teachers. If we include the lives of families of students and teachers, of those in community, it will be many more than that.
I would like to highlight Ms Helen Choo, current Principal of Tampines Junior College, who has been Principal for 19 years. You organised workshops to equip your teachers with the skills to teach values. You nurtured values and character not just in your students, but also in your teachers. That is how we can each build cultures that live on after us.
I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of two retiring Superintendents, Mrs Mary Koh and Mrs Alice Tan. Together, you have given 72 years of dedicated service, and guidance to more than 200 school leaders in your clusters. Mrs Mary Koh’s dedication as a mentor, shaping the learning and development of both students and teachers, will be missed. Mrs Alice Tan is described by all who worked with her as caring and motherly. She has nurtured the school leaders under her charge, helping them from the side-lines to bring their schools to the next level.
To all our retiring officers, thank you very much for your years of dedication, service and leadership.Conclusion
To the Principals receiving your appointment letters today:
Lead your people - with heart. Lead your culture - with vision. Lead change - with courage. Lead learning - with expertise.
And lead nationally: Go Beyond Alone to Altogether, Beyond Within to Throughout, Beyond Today to Tomorrow.
As we celebrate our nation’s 50th birthday, let us dedicate ourselves to leading nationally.
And like the bricklayer, let us see our daily work of laying the foundation, piece by piece, as our contribution to building a great nation. Let us enable our young to build on the legacy and core values of our pioneers, and exercise their creativity and collective strength to take Singapore to greater heights.
Thank you, all the best.
Results of 2014 Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) Level Examinations
Students who sat for the 2014 Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) Level Examinations have collected their results from their secondary schools today. 1
11,176 students from the Secondary 4 Normal (Academic) Course and 5,120 students from the Secondary 4 Normal (Technical) Course sat for the Examinations.
99.7% of the students from the Normal (Academic) course have been awarded the Normal (Academic) Level certificate. The Normal (Academic) Level certificate is awarded to candidates who obtain a pass grade (i.e. of Grade 5 or better) in at least one Normal (Academic) subject.
97.5% of the students from the Normal (Technical) course have been awarded the Normal (Technical) Level certificate. The Normal (Technical) Level certificate is awarded to a candidate who obtains a pass grade (i.e. of Grade D or better) in at least one Normal (Technical) subject.Progression to Secondary 5 Normal (Academic)
74.6% of the students from the Normal (Academic) course are eligible for promotion to Secondary 5 Normal (Academic) in 2015. These are students in the Normal (Academic) course who obtained an aggregate not exceeding 19 points in English Language (EL), Mathematics and best three subjects (ELMAB3), and a Grade 5 or better for both EL and Mathematics.
This year, 34.5% of the students from the Normal (Academic) course sat for subjects in the GCE Ordinary Level (GCE ‘O’ Level) Examinations. These students are also eligible for promotion to Secondary 5 Normal (Academic) if they obtain an aggregate not exceeding 19 points in EL, Mathematics and best three subjects, and a Grade 5 or better for both EL and Mathematics, using their combined GCE Normal (Academic) Level and their school-based ‘O’ Level preliminary examination results.Progression Pathways for Normal (Academic) Students
Secondary 4 Normal (Academic) students who had attempted the GCE Normal (Academic) examinations in 2014 and obtained an ELMAB3 aggregate not exceeding 19 points 2 will have the option of applying for the Direct-Entry-Scheme into Polytechnic Programme (DPP).
The DPP prepares Secondary 4 Normal (Academic) students for progression into selected polytechnic diploma courses via a two-year Higher Nitec programme at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Under the DPP, students who successfully complete their Higher Nitec course and attain the required qualifying Grade Point Average (GPA) are guaranteed a place in a polytechnic diploma course mapped to their Higher Nitec course. About 1,000 DPP places are offered across all three ITE Colleges annually. Applications to the DPP will open on 18 December 2014. For more information, please refer to http://www.ite.edu.sg/wps/portal/definitely-des/.
Secondary 4 Normal (Academic) students who sat for the GCE Normal (Academic) examinations in 2014 and obtained an ELMAB3 aggregate not exceeding 11 points 3 will also have the option of applying for the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP).
The PFP is a one-year foundation programme at the polytechnics that offers a practice-oriented curriculum taught by polytechnic lecturers to prepare students for entry into the relevant Polytechnic Diploma courses. Upon completion of the one-year PFP, students will progress on to their pre-selected diploma course, subject to them passing all modules in the PFP. The polytechnics will offer about 1,200 PFP places in total. Applications to the PFP will open in January 2015 after the release of the GCE ‘O’ Level Examination results. Secondary 4 Normal (Academic) students who intend to apply for the PFP should first progress to Secondary 5 on 2 January 2015. For more information, please refer to http://www.polytechnic.edu.sg/pfp.Progression of Normal (Technical) students
All Normal (Technical) course students who completed their secondary education in 2014 may apply to further their studies at ITE. Schools may also laterally transfer Secondary 4 Normal (Technical) students to Secondary 4 Normal (Academic) if they have obtained grade A for EL and Mathematics and grade B or better for one other subject at the Normal (Technical) Level.Footnote
- The Singapore-Cambridge GCE Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) Level Examinations are conducted jointly by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) and the Ministry of Education (MOE).↩
- To be eligible for the DPP, students must also attain a minimum grade of 4 in both English Language (Minimum required grade of 3 for Business & Services courses) and Mathematics. The ELMAB3 aggregate does not include CCA bonus points.↩
- The ELMAB3 aggregate comprises English Language (EL), Mathematics (MA), and the student’s three best other subjects. To be eligible for the PFP, students must also attain a minimum grade of 3 in all subjects that make up the ELMAB3 aggregate. CCA bonus points are not factored into the ELMAB3 aggregate used for application to the PFP, but are taken into account for posting. More information can be found at http://www.polytechnic.edu.sg/pfp/pfp_eligibility.html. ↩
Release of Singapore-Cambridge GCE Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) Level Examination Results on 18 December 2014
The results of the 2014 Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Normal (Academic) [N(A)] and Normal (Technical) [N(T)] Level Examinations will be released on Thursday, 18 December 2014.
School candidates may obtain their result slips from their respective schools from 2.00 pm on 18 December 2014.
Private candidates will be notified of their individual results by post. They will also be able to obtain their results online (using the password provided to them) via Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board’s website at http://www.seab.gov.sg, from 2.00 pm on 18 December 2014.
Students who wish to apply for courses offered by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) can submit their applications online via the ITE application portal upon collection of their results. Hard copy application forms will also be available at Customer Service Centres at each of the three ITE colleges.Application for the Direct-Entry-Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP)
The Direct-Entry-Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP) prepares students for progression into selected polytechnic diploma courses via a two-year Higher Nitec course at ITE. Under the DPP, students who successfully complete their Higher Nitec course and attain the required minimum qualifying Higher Nitec Grade Point Average are guaranteed a place in a polytechnic diploma course mapped to their Higher Nitec course. Students eligible for the DPP will receive a copy of Form N from their secondary schools, inviting them to apply for the DPP.
Applications for DPP can be submitted online via the ITE application portal between 2.30 pm on 18 December 2014 and 5.00 pm on 22 December 2014.Release of DPP Posting Results and Acceptance of DPP Offers
The DPP posting results will be released at 9.00 am on 26 December 2014. Students will be able to check the posting results online via the ITE application portal.
Students who receive a DPP offer are required to log on to the ITE application portal between 9.00 am on 26 December 2014 and 11.59 pm on 29 December 2014 to accept or reject the DPP offer. Students who reject their DPP offer should report to their secondary schools on 2 January 2015 for Secondary 5.Application for Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) in January
The Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) is a one-year foundation programme offering a practice-oriented curriculum taught by polytechnic lecturers, catering to students who have decided to pursue a polytechnic education and meet the PFP eligibility requirements. Applications for the PFP will open later, in January 2015, on the day when the results of the GCE Ordinary Level Examinations are released. On the same day, students eligible for the PFP will receive a copy of Form P, inviting them to apply for the PFP.
Students interested in applying to the PFP should first commence their Secondary 5 year on 2 January 2015, while awaiting the PFP posting results.
For more information on the DPP and the PFP, please visit these websites:
The Secondary One (S1) posting results will be released on Friday, 19 December 2014 at 9:00am.
The posting results can be accessed through any of the following channels:
- Short Messaging System (SMS) text messaging, if parents have provided a local mobile phone number during the submission of their child’s school choices;
- S1 Internet System at www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/secondary-one-posting/; or
- Going to the student’s primary school.
Students are to report to the secondary schools that they have been posted to on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 8:30am.
For enquiries, parents can call the MOE Customer Service Centre at 6872 2220 during office hours.