Embrace professionalism, minister urges school leaders

Azlan Othman

Students are entering a more challenging world full of uncertainty and complexity. With the new education landscape, local schools must be responsive by providing high quality education that caters to students with diverse interests and abilities. Soft skills required in the digital era are no less important than academics and competencies such as creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.

This was highlighted by Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman at the two-day School Leaders Convention 2020 at Chancellor Hall, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah emphasised school leaders’ significant role. With the enormous responsibilities and expectations from stakeholders – students, teachers, parents, the community and Ministry of Education (MoE) – school leaders need to be equipped and trained with the relevant leadership competencies to ensure effective and efficient delivery.

An effective leader focusses on high standards with realistic target setting, is solution-oriented, data-driven, innovative, accountable, receptive to new ideas, and focusses on building a strong sense of school community as well as professional environment.

School leaders who practice the ‘servant leadership’ concept aim to serve the school by creating a positive school culture, improving individual teacher’s instructions, empowering teachers to innovate, and develop opportunities for peer learning.

“You are the architect of the school as you transform it and lead the change by working closely with teachers, parents and the community. Your role as a school leader marks a major milestone in your career and your leadership journey. And there are competencies that are expected of a school leader. In this regard, MoE will continue to strongly support the school leaders particularly in their professional development,” the minister said.

ABOVE & BELOW: Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman delivers his speech; and school leaders at the convention. PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah added that school leaders and teachers frequently ask how they can help students learn better.

There are multiple factors that influence a student’s performance. The Programme for International Standard Assessment (PISA) 2018, for example, provided crucial information on what the school should focus to improve their students’ performance.

In relation to this, secondary school leaders will receive useful information which include their schools’ proficiency level in PISA, students’ well-being, reading habits and teachers’ enthusiasm, support and behaviour.

“Apart from PISA, it is imperative to utilise data and information from different aspects of education. Basic skills of Literacy, Numeracy, ICT and other aspects of education that form the basis for 21st Century skills remain significant. In other words, we must strive to give our students a balanced and well-rounded education to develop them to their fullest potential. Ultimately, we aim to build a generation that is not only highly educated, skilful and tech-savvy but also global citizens with unique Bruneian identity, noble in character, highly resilient with strong spiritual values that uphold our Malay Islamic Monarchy philosophy,” he added.

The School Leaders Convention 2020 is a platform for school leaders nationwide on the current needs and expectations in supporting MoE’s Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022, Brunei Vision 2035 and aligning with global competencies standards.

This was the second convention held by MoE and was jointly organised by the Department of Educators Management and Department of Schools. It enabled school leaders to engage and collaborate with stakeholders towards the development of performance driven culture for growth and success of schools’ performance.

The theme ‘Quality Leaders, Quality Education’ will be used consecutively for five years until 2023 for School Leaders Convention as agreed by the committee members for 2019.

Each year will focus on specific sub-themes highlighting critical perspectives concerning to the main theme namely to share the finding of PISA as a way forward for school leaders to strengthen school performance, to socialise Learning Support Framework to be implemented in schools effectively by school leaders, to socialise the Brunei Darussalam School Leadership Competency Framework and its Professional Development Training (PDs), and to acknowledge school’s performance in Whole School Evaluation (WSE) and public examinations (PSR, ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level) according to set criteria and categories.