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Home > About > Principal's Message 2018

Principal's Message 2018

Mr Ng Tiong Nam I am honoured to have been appointed the fourth principal of Canberra Secondary School. My predecessors, Mr Puvan, Mr Tan and Mr Cheng, supported by committed and competent staff, have built strong foundations for character and academic excellence in the school, as well as a culture of care and continuous development for all members of the Canberran family. I will build on these foundations to enable Canberra Secondary to reap the harvest of our efforts, so that students and staff alike can enjoy even better outcomes from our work.

Today’s world is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. How can a school prepare students for this? I firmly believe that we can do this by cultivating strong character. Having strong character will develop in students the values which equip them to navigate the uncertainties of life, in school and in the future. Strong character will empower them to learn well, both in school and on their own, so that they can achieve their academic aspirations. It will enable them to set, pursue and achieve goals which benefit not just themselves, but their families, society, the nation and the world.

In today’s world, three worrying trends are developing: ungratefulness, disrespect, and indifference. Increasingly, people are unappreciative of the good things they have, show insufficient respect for their parents and other members of the community, and are indifferent to the struggles and suffering of others. These trends are also reflected in the media and in the idols whom today’s young people draw inspiration from. If these trends are not checked, the consequences to society could be dire.

Therefore, I strongly believe that our first duty as a school is to cultivate the values of Gratitude, Respect and Compassion in our students. These values combat the three trends I described above, and form the foundation of strong character. Students of strong character appreciate their parents and their families, and make it a point to cherish what they have instead of being fixated on what they do not have. They show respect to their teachers and their peers, and also respect themselves, making the necessary efforts to stretch their own potential and achieve their dreams, even though this may be difficult and tiring. They are compassionate, caring for and understanding the needs of different groups in society, and taking action to make a positive difference in their lives. When they graduate from Canberra Secondary, they will continue to live by these values, and do their part to make society a better and more humane place.

In the past 17 years, through our efforts to cultivate good character, we have sown the seeds and watched them grow. Each year, we have strengthened our programmes and processes, and seen the positive effects on our students and staff. We have achieved good student outcomes in the academic and character development domains. With these foundations and results, we are ready now to reap the harvest over the next few years. Harvest time is an exciting time. It requires new strategies – being focused, changing our mindsets, finding new ways to achieve the best outcomes. As such, 2018 will be a Year of New Beginning. Building on our strong foundations, we will introduce programmes and processes to focus our efforts on cultivating strong character, helping students to achieve their academic aspirations, and nurturing our teachers so that as a family we will continue to grow in competence and experience.

We will continue to take a whole-school approach to cultivate strong character in our students. In 2018, we will introduce new platforms for teachers to mentor and guide students to develop Gratitude, Respect and Compassion. In 2018, we will be setting aside 30 minutes each day for Student-Teacher Interaction Time (STINT). This will be a key platform for Character Coaches to understand their students’ backgrounds, aspirations and needs even better, and better guide them to achieve their goals. Our variety of Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs) provide further opportunities for students to develop good values and to serve the community. In 2018, regardless of whether they are in a Sports Group, Uniformed Group, Club or Society or a Performing Arts Group, all students will serve the community through their CCA in a structured Values in Action (VIA) programme which exposes them to different needs of the community in their four or five years in secondary school. Our Global Canberran Programme for all Secondary 3 students will also focus on Service Learning, where our students will serve the communities in regional countries through meaningful projects.

Secondary school is also the time for students to learn to be leaders. To be grateful, respectful and compassionate leaders, students have to develop humility, self-confidence, responsibility and a heart to serve others. In 2018, we will be widening the range of leadership opportunities for students, and giving students many opportunities to lead in our efforts to serve the community.

If students have strong character, they will also be able to reach their academic aspirations with the guidance of their teachers. I hope that after they graduate from Canberra Secondary, all students will be able to move on to a Junior College, Polytechnic or ITE course of their choice. In 2018, we will be implementing changes to better support students’ academic progress. The timetable structure has been refined so that curriculum time is maximised, and students have ample time to consult their teachers in the afternoons. Each day will begin with a Self-Directed Learning period, during which students will be challenged to be self-directed learners, and develop the skills and attitudes that enable them to learn outside the classroom and work on their own areas for improvement. Our Applied Learning Programme in Digital Media in Visual Arts and Design will continue to enable our students to incorporate, organise and apply knowledge in different authentic contexts, thus gaining the ability to effectively contribute to the school and society.

The staff in Canberra Secondary School forms one big family, caring for each other and helping each other to develop professionally. In 2018, we will strengthen the culture of peer mentoring and coaching, through encouraging excellent teachers to share their knowledge and skills with others. We also have a strong team of Senior Teachers and Department Heads, who will mentor teachers in the department to develop strategies to support them in cultivating good character in our students, and teaching their subjects well. With their insight into the strategic direction of the school, the School Management Committee, consisting of Heads of Department and Subject Heads, will take a more active role in supporting and guiding teachers so that every teacher’s effort will have the maximum possible leverage in producing good student outcomes.

I believe in the African proverb – It takes a village to raise a child. As a school, we need to work closely with our key partners. I am extremely privileged to have so many committed and active partners working with us. Our Parent Support Group members have been a constant presence at many of our programmes, such as the Night Study Programme and International Friendship Day. Our Canberran Alumni has also supported our programmes such as Sports Fest and Graduation Night. In 2018, I hope to involve the Parent Support Group and Alumni more closely in organising some of our events such as Teachers’ Day and a new annual Homecoming Carnival for the school. We are also fortunate to have such supportive members from the School Advisory Committee. Their generous support has enabled us to run many of our important school programmes, and their diverse expertise in different fields has enabled us to refine and strengthen our strategies and efforts. We will also be reaching out to more community partners in 2018, to develop meaningful and mutually beneficial Values in Action programmes for our students.

With these exciting new developments ahead, 2018 will truly be a Year of New Beginning. Let us appreciate the memories and achievements recorded in these pages, and build on these foundations to work towards being Grateful, Respectful and Compassionate Canberrans!

Mr Ng Tiong Nam