Challenges and Processes in School Turnaround A Singapore Secondary School Principal's Perspective


AbstractSingapore schools have a reputation of high achieving in the various international surveys, such as the TIMSS, PIRLS and PISA, in the past ten years. The latest PISA 2012 results ranked Singapore 2nd in Maths, 3rd in Reading and 3rd in Science. However, in the midst of such high achieving schools are schools which have been saddled with poor discipline, low morale among staff and students and under-performance in academic standards. A few of these schools have achieved remarkable turnaround. How do such schools managed to turnaround?PurposeThis paper presents the context, challenges and processes involved in turning around an under-performing school in Singapore through the experiences of a ‘turnaround’ principal. Considerations of important factors such as context, personality, leadership and five essential questions for the turnaround leader are discussed with references to effective schools, school improvement as well as corporate turnaround literature.ConclusionThe process of turning around schools is never an easy one. The principal as the chief driver of the turnaround needs the moral courage, the belief and competencies to do the job of turnaround. In the end he must make the seemingly impossible task possible through working with all stakeholders in the school

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