70 schools to get new principals in 2023 in MOE’s annual reshuffle
Being appointed as principals of their alma mater was a special surprise for Mrs Lucy Toh and Mr Boy Eng Seng, the new heads of National Junior College (NJC) and Maris Stella High School respectively.
Their schools are among the 70 getting new principals in 2023 as part of the annual MOE reshuffle. This is the highest number of schools that will have new principals since 2004.
“This is due to a higher number of serving principals who will be retiring as compared with previous years. Typically, between 50 and 70 schools see new principals appointed each year,” said an MOE spokesman.
Twenty-six schools will have first-time principals.
At a ceremony held at Shangri-La Hotel on Thursday, the ministry acknowledged the contributions of seven retiring principals and retiring senior education officers from its headquarters who had served as principals.
For Mrs Toh, 51, there is sentimental value in her new assignment as she met her husband in NJC, where they were classmates in the Humanities Scholarship Programme.
She is mindful of the immense responsibility given to her and teachers.
“We want our children to grow up as whole persons,” she said. “I distinguish that from all-rounders, who are good at many things and simply checking the boxes. In truth, nobody is really an all-rounder.
“I want them to grow up to be people who have a sense of who they are in this world, their destiny and what part they play.”
This was also a key takeaway for her, coming away from her most recent role as MOE’s divisional director of special educational needs for five years.
“The sense of community and belonging among all of us with a heart for special needs is forged in a context with a lot of challenges and demanding a lot of creativity,” said Mrs Toh, who was previously principal of St Andrew’s Secondary School from 2011 to 2016.
The stint also showed her the value of being open to differences, she said, adding that NJC’s diverse student population had attracted her as a student.
“I remember a student councillor saying during (NJC’s) open house that its students came from over 100 secondary schools and on the spot, I decided this was the school for me,” she said. “This is a college that belongs to everyone, every Singaporean, and that is still the case.”
Similarly, Mr Boy, 46, who was most recently principal of Bedok Green Secondary School, is excited to lead Maris Stella High School, a place where he has fond memories of as a student and made lasting friendships.
“Before Covid, my friends and I would go back to the campus to catch up and play basketball,” he said, adding that his teachers have shaped him to be the educator he is today.
One priority for him is to strengthen the relationship between the primary and secondary sections of Maris Stella. About 30 per cent of its Secondary 1 cohort comes from its affiliated primary school.
“This includes building students up in the Special Assistance Plan curriculum, or laying the foundation in soft skills in leadership and values in primary school and applying what they have learnt in secondary school,” said Mr Boy.
Meanwhile, Mr Suraj Nair, who was previously director of technologies for learning at MOE’s education technology division for five years, said he will carry the spirit of innovation into his new appointment at the helm of Rosyth School.
The former Teck Whye Primary School principal, who was involved in the development of MOE’s online platform Student Learning Space and artificial intelligence in education projects, said: “My stint in headquarters gave me time and space to look at the future of learning... to have courage to test new ideas, learn from them and make things better.”
Looking at the next phase of Rosyth School’s development, Mr Suraj, 48, said: “We need to continually think about the pace of changes in the world that our students will graduate into. Beyond academic grounding, we also need to look at whether we’re nurturing the right kind of competencies in our school programmes and if it’s sufficient.”
Addressing 450 school leaders and educators on Thursday, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing challenged them to be bold and innovate as the world continues to change and present new opportunities and challenges.
Every school is different, he said, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for educators.
“You are the ones who will sense the needs of your unique students’ profiles, their circumstances.
“Ultimately, your benchmark of success is not what exam scores your students get. Your benchmark of success is how much you have value-added to the lives of your students.”
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