Dear DCIS Parents,
I was listening to a BBC radio comedy programme recently where they talked about how the frequent use of the word unprecedented in the last 5 months was … unprecedented. I am guilty of this overuse, as well as a few other phrases but, at times, I genuinely didn’t know what other word to use. I am sure we have all had times in the last few months when we have felt we have had enough and wishing that things could just go back to normal.
As I mentioned when my move to Shanghai was announced, I am very sad to be leaving Singapore and Dover Court. We have a brilliant set of staff and students and it has been a delight to share so many wonderful events with them. We have known that Dover Court has been a special part of the international education community in Singapore for many years but to receive 4 separate endorsements of this over the last 4 years has been fantastic. We are now active members of the FOBISIA community and I have just finished 18 months as a FOBISIA board member. The IB Diploma Programme has been a great addition to the school, as will the BTEC programme starting in August be. This gives us a full 3 – 18 provision for all 3 educational pathways. Our first set of results for the IB were tremendous, exceeding the global average, and we look forward to this year’s results. Achievements in GCSE and ASDAN have been similarly pleasing. The CIS and WASC accreditations were a thorough review of all areas of the school and we were delighted to receive both their accreditations earlier this year. They are a testament to the hard-working staff and students we have in the school.
Accreditations, awards and world average beating examination results are all great, but my abiding memory of Dover Court will be the everyday occurrences in being around the school and speaking to students and staff. The enthusiasm of how students greeted me each morning and the excitement in showing me their work as I went around the classrooms was infectious. There are stressful aspects to my role – balancing the needs to 1,650 students, 3,200 parents and 300 staff isn’t always easy but a visit to a classroom is always something to improve the tone of one’s day. I’ve been privileged to judge presentations, be involved in self-directed learning in Early Years, watch amazing drama and music productions, support gutsy competitions on the sports field, visit children camping outside for the first time, read inspiring writing, listen to motivational speaking and countless other activities.
One student has come into my office most weeks over the last 4 years and asked me what my priorities are for the week, term, year. Questions like these really make you stop and think as young people won’t accept a vague answer. Two weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk doing Principal like things on my computer when Ms Pemberton and Emi from Nursery came in. They couldn’t undo Emi’s lunch container and they felt I could help. As you can imagine, that made my day (I could open the container!). We have a wonderful staff body who it has been my real pleasure to work with. I often visit other schools (in normal times) and you can pick up on the ethos of a school very quickly. The purposefulness I see as I go around our campus from all members of the team, teaching or otherwise, is a great sign of the effectiveness of the staff body. The care our team show and their ability to go above and beyond is tremendous. In the last 4 weeks many staff have been involved in multiple duties to ensure safe supervision of students and non-teaching staff have found themselves swapping the tools of their day to job to measure temperatures, mark record cards or help younger children get to their class. I have also really enjoyed getting to know many parents either in school or at events around the city. As I said earlier, any Principal will struggle to keep everyone happy all of the time but I’ve always appreciated the support and parents’ willingness to give honest feedback as this is so important in any organisation that aspires to always strive for continuous improvement. As we say to our Student Council – you will always get your say, you may not always get your way!
Myself and other staff and students leaving this this year have a slightly strange experience. I wish all families moving on from Singapore the very best in their adventure. I know some of these moves have not been planned so I also wish all families the best of fortune as we continue to deal with the fallout from the current pandemic.
I wish everyone a safe, if different summer holiday and all the best for the new academic year.