Posted by: Principal/Editor | August 6, 2013

Philosophy of Education: A Case Study of Ms Marie Stubbs

PART 1: Introduction to the film ‘Ahead of the Class’:

‘Ahead of the Class’ was based on Marie Stubbs (60 years old)’s book of the same name. The former headmistress (principal) was retired when she got the call to take over the hopelessly failing St George’s School in London. The previous headmaster Philip Lawrence had been murdered at the school gates. Arriving in the spring of 2000, she walked into the school where teachers had lost hope, and violence, gang culture, vandalism and truancy were just a few of the problems to be faced.


You may watch this film on Youtube:

PART 2: Questions for reflection & discussion:

(1) If you are Ms Marie Stubbs, what are 3 things you will do as the principal? Rank them in order of priority.

(2) What do you think is her vision of, values in, and aim of education?

(3) In your view, what did she do that was right?

(4) In your view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?

(5) In your view, to what extent did she provide sufficient spaces where the voices of teachers could be heard and negotiated agreement could be reached?

(6) What could/should she have done to work better with all the teachers?

(7) What are your vision and aim as an educator?

(8) How do your values shape and influence your vision and aim of education?


  1. I have just watched pt 1 & 2, so I can only comment on qn (1) for now. I’m not sure if you’re asking for the things that the principal will do for the next 2 months, but I’ll be putting on the crisis manager’s hat on the 1st day, and the 3 things that I’ll be doing would be:

    a. Get a thorough understanding of the situation, by engaging all staff, and ideally including students, their parents and other stakeholders, to find out the root of the problem. The problem may not lie with the students, it could be a larger system failure.

    b. While it may be too early to talk about specific action plans, it is critical to gain support of the staff. Since the principal was sent to save the school from closure, at least this goal must be shared by the staff, and they must have the conviction that it can be done.

    c. It is apparent from the film that the school was not even functioning as teachers had given up and students were running the show, from dictating activities to vandalizing school properties. Even as engagement with stakeholders are ongoing, discipline and order have to be restored. The students must obey the rules and regulations, i.e. the school’s authority must be quickly re-established.

  2. In response to Poh Yeen’s comment, the first question refers to the top 3 things you would do if you were the principal of the school. I’ve not stipulated the time frame (2 months or otherwise) as I would like you to make your own judgement, given the contextual and time constraints as portrayed in the film. I look forward to reading more comments from the rest.

  3. (1) If you are Ms Marie Stubbs, what are 3 things you will do as the principal? Rank them in order of priority.

    1. Find ways to motivate students and teachers; settle affective issues of both groups of people
    2. Settle disciplinary issues so that the school environment is safe for all
    3. Set new strategic thrusts for the school with the teachers’ common consensus

    (2) What do you think is her vision of, values in, and aim of education?

    Vision: Her educational philosophy seems to be more of Pragmatism with a slight mix with Postmodernism. Why Pragmatism? In the video, she told the students that the school and teachers were there because of them, and that the students have a say in what kind of school environment they want to be in (not what others say about the school or the students in that school). In that way, I saw her teaching the students to be an active participant in school and building social consensus seemed to be her approach. I would think that she wants each student in the school to grow and direct their own lives. The school, in Marie Stubbs’ view might be a social institution for democratic living. Why Postmodernism? Being a notorious school, the students have been “labeled” by all others that they are bad and unteachable. In that scenario, the students have become the oppressed group. Marie Stubbs believed that the students in the school are teachable and have their “goodness”; she encouraged the students to form their own identity and be proud to be in that school by organising a grand ball for the graduating class. She encouraged the students, empower them and help them transform. As such, she looks beyond academics areas but works on the affective domains of the students.

    Aim: Orientative approach shows more prominently in the video, which I supposed has been greatly influenced by the situation at the school at that time. By placing more emphasis on conduct and responsibilities to effect change in self, it can then transcend to other areas of a person’s life, and eventually the society.

    Value: From Marie Stubbs’ behaviour, I would infer that responsibility, care and harmony are three of her values of education. She might have more values, but from the video, I see these three values prominently shown. She is responsible, and she wants her students and teachers to be responsible. She cares about the students’ as well as her teachers’ well-being. She changed the culture of the school from a disorganised mess to one which students and teachers cooperate with one another – this creates harmony in the school. Furthermore, she does not go around and scold people. Even when a parent shouted at her, she managed to calm her down and converse peacefully with her.

    (3) In your view, what did she do that was right?

    She addressed students’ behavioural issues by bringing them to a place of an equal-status stakeholder to made them rethink if that current school environment was really what they wanted, and gave the students a voice. She tried to understand the difficulties of some students and provided them a solution (eg. she gave a boy who was always late for class an alarm clock and encouraged him to use it and be at school on time). I see that as not just an act but a Marie Stubbs’ sincere effort to show the student that he is important and that she truly cares for him. I guess sometimes it’s just these small sincere caring behaviours that the teachers show that will empower the delinquent to change for better.

    (4) In your view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?

    In the video, she placed a lot of effort and energy on the students but she expected the teachers to know what they should do. The top-down approach won’t work when the teachers felt that nothing can work. Neither would open discussions with teachers help because those teachers had already “given up” in their heart and do not see a need to participate in the discussion – they would also not voice out anything. The teachers there had been on low morale before Marie Stubbs joined. So, the teachers and Marie Stubbs do not share similar goals or vision at that time when they were supposed to be working together. This misfit, with added pressure on solving other disciplinary issues of the students, had caused Marie Stubbs much added stress. What she might have done would be to create a common agreeable starting ground with all the teachers in that school. She could use the same method she addressed to the students at the school hall with the teachers, asking them what kind of school environment they envision to have and cooperate to work together because she would support them and they are one team. In a sense, it’s like creating a common group identity, having similar goals in mind, before discussing about what to do.

    (5) In your view, to what extent did she provide sufficient spaces where the voices of teachers could be heard and negotiated agreement could be reached? (6) What could/should she have done to work better with all the teachers?
    Marie Stubbs actually gave the teachers choice as to whether they want to help in certain tasks. She held open discussions about matters, allowing the teachers to voice out their thoughts. However, at several occasions when the teachers refused to help, Marie Stubbs could not really do much except to hope that the teachers could change their mind (at least at the last minute). I would think she is an open-minded principal. If she had established a common goal before requesting the teachers to help, I supposed she would have less problems with the teachers. Her approach from the video, though managed to win over the teachers’ “heart”, it was a long and difficult process.


  4. In the order of priority, I would
    1) Engage the staff on an interpersonal level –seek first to understand, and then be understood. Try to identify the problems, set target goals and gain their support for this transformative leadership.
    2) Address the students on a regular basis. Help them understand the dire situation that the school is in and that discipline must be enforced.
    3) Engage the parents in this tripartite system.

    I feel that she is non-judgmental in the way she treats the students, which is very important as an educator. Not only that, she makes an attempt to understand them on a personal level. Personally, I think what she did right was to raise the morale of the students especially by introducing a leaver’s ball for graduating students. That includes some of the physical enhancements in terms of the garden and walkway. Another aspect that was done well was to inform the students of the situation that the school is facing and the possibility of shutting down. Somehow, this manages to gain the empathy of the students. I am of the opinion that she can be authoritative yet persuasive. In a number of instances, she is unable to get the support of her teachers but decides to proceed. That brings me to the 5th point. I don’t think she has provided adequate space for the teachers to be heard. Much as the morale of the teachers was at an extreme low, there wasn’t really an avenue for them to air their grievances. There could have been informal focus group sessions because it can set the tone for a more meaningful and in-depth discussion.
    I have not really thought of my personal vision and aim but I believe every student deserves an equal chance to be developed. As an educator, we should constantly seek for opportunities to enhance their learning.

  5. As I have watched part 1 & 2 , i share my thoughts on the 1st question

    The 3 things in the that I would do in the order of priority , would be

    1st : Talk to the HODs then teachers to understand the situation in the school and if anything common areas of concern can be spotted.
    ( this will also give me a quick chance to understand the believes and attitudes of the teachers and the reason why they still continue to teach in this school – the school has been graded the lowest in performance by the state school inspectors)

    2nd: talk school care takers and junior staff ; the school leader and other students before drafting school rules

    3rd: Do as Ms Stubbs did: make students feel important and try to inculcate a sense of belonging for the school.
    ( as she did in the first assembly hall)

    • hi shilpa – she did talk to the teachers even at the beginning but most of them were skeptical of her and her ideas. they already have passed judgement on her even before she started work. we must bear in mind that she has a short timeline to fix the problem and she must “pass” the OFSTED audit. if she did not bulldoze her way through some of the things that need to be done, it would not be accomplished. so would you still want to talk and convince the staff or would you just do it your way and accept the consequences of the teachers leaving (the way she did it)?

      • Hi Zaidi,
        Many thanks for your comments: However just to enforce two points which were there in my mind while watching the movie.
        1. We are talking of the school (organization) and NO single person, moreover new to the organization cannot be so strong to turn around the school in such a short time. He/She needs support of the key personnel or some staff at least to work around in school.
        2. It is a movie play only and things shown may not be exactly how it would have happened.
        Although I believe and agree that Marie Stubbs definitely has a strong personality however, she could have been glorified a bit too much in the movie.
        So I still have to say that surely I would need some support of the staff to accomplish the task.

  6. Activity 3
    (a) A perceptive soul that is both tenacious and courageous, Marie Stubbs is attuned to what her students’ intrinsic motivations are (say, for example, their liking for being a car mechanic) and she adroitly uses that as a springboard to relate to them. This not only empowers them in making the right ethical choices for themselves; it also forces them to confront and address their personal demons head on with regards to their self worth and dignity, juxtaposed with their marginalization due to either their race or family background. Subscribing to the Pragmatist educational philosophy, Stubbs perceives herself playing an integral role as a facilitator that not only guides the students but encourages openness and collaboration (working together on the school play) by fostering a conducive learning environment that meets their learning needs .

    (b) Although Stubbs harnesses Joseph Nye’s idea of smart power (a mixture of both hard and soft power) dexterously in dealing with the students, she comes across as being a tad too harsh and exacting on the teachers in expecting them to shape up and execute their professional duties competently within a short time frame. Granted that she had to grapple with the constraints of time to get the school out of Special Measures, and that teachers owe a care of duty to the students, perhaps the latter might have found it more palatable to buy into Stubb’s vision if they were given more adequate opportunities to voice their fears, needs and desires so that a consensus could have been forged. Perhaps, that would also have allowed them to become more effective practitioners that impact student learning, which further validates the vocation which they have decided to remain in. School leaders like Stubbs thus face the tall order of using a combination of transformational and instructional leadership capacities to inspire staff to meet the goals of a collective vision and promote a culture of trust in a democratic landscape, so that they do not necessarily have to face the Herculean task of managing the school largely on their. own

  7. (1) ‘Coming out of Special Measures’
    The school was identified as ‘Special Measures’ due to its major weakness, if no improvement is seen, it would be closed. I reckoned there was a time frame for Ms Marie Stubb to act and she might not have much time to ‘waste’.

    The situation of the school seemed chaotic and hopeless. There was a great sense of urgency to bring orderliness to the school, However, being new to the school and community, Ms Stubb faced a lot of challenges despite her good intentions. If I were Ms Stubb, I would

    (i) gain staff support through deep and reflective conversations with the staff

    (ii) provide security to the teachers, staff and pupils by enriching the teaching & learning environment
    – possibly improving teaching and learning in classrooms with staff & students – leading by example [modeling
    in preparing lesson plans]
    – improving the physical environment of the school
    – establishing a Student Behaviour Policy & improving attendance

    (iii) gain community acceptance and support from stakeholders

    (2) Vision, Values and Aim of Education (Ms Stubb)

    I believe Ms Stubb’s vision for the pupils was for them to have the desire to learn and acquire knowledge from the subjects offered in school and beyond, for examples,

    (a) ’I can’t make you learn, Rory, but I want you to want to learn…” Ms Stubb spoke to Rory when he got into a fight. As Rory was fond of cars, she promised to help him find a car mechanic to learn skills from, if he were to attend school regularly and on time.
    (b) Her belief in and encouragement for Debbie to pass the exam and contribution to the school play.

    She believed the pupils should have the desired moral values, such as respect and the sense of responsibility for self and others. She persuaded the priest to be in school to hold religious sessions for the pupils and she also corrected the less than desired behavior and emphasized on the right thing to do, for example, punctuality and accountability.

    Aim of Education
    I opine that Ms Stubb’s aim of education was to develop human potential for growth, becoming the best one can be. She believed the pupils should have hope and future for themselves if they were given the opportunities to learn and strive to break free from their negativism.

    (3a) In your view, what did she do that was right?

    Success in making or sustained school improvement depends on the Principal’s passion, willingness and ability to :
    – model best practices (hands-on approach);
    – displace unacceptable norms, structures and processes;
    – replace the above with practices that reflect school values, moral and ethical purpose;
    – influence behavioral change & re-energize the people, (she believed that the pupils would and do their best);

    (3b) In your view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?

    In her urgent attempt to work on the problematic areas of the school, Ms Stubb could have done more in

    – promoting a healthy work environment, to improve the overall well-being of the teaching and non-teaching staff as the morale was very low even before she took over the headship,

    – providing training and development opportunities and on-going support for staff to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge (to be engage in Capacity Building), thus creating a sense of ownership in the processes, this should be done after the staff basic needs are met in the working environment.

    (4) Reflection as a school leader

    I would consider 3 ‘Cornerstones’ for success:
    1. accountability
    2. collaboration
    3. initiative

    Schools themselves cannot be responsible for solving all the social problems. However, the principals and their staff can:
    ( i) affect the life chances of their students through providing environments and teaching which raise expectations for achievement;
    ( ii) provide opportunities for students to fashion a broader view of future life and work prospects;
    ( iii) instill in all students the willingness, will and self-confidence to succeed.
    The process of change is not linear, nor does it involve the application of discrete strategies. Rather, a layered approach with more emphasis being placed on certain strategies during particular phases of transformation, for example:
    Phases of transformation
    a) ensure the basic discipline structure is in place before learning can take place
    b) check on staff’s well-being and morale as they are assets to build the school up
    c) engage staff in review and planning
    d) develop staff capacity through the various professional development platforms

    (5a) In your view, to what extent did Marie Stubbs provide sufficient spaces where the voices of the teachers could be heard and negotiated agreement could be reached?

    Although Ms Stubb tried to engage them in various programmes and initiatives, she seemed to adopt a more top-down approach. She faced a fair amount of resistance as the teachers’ morale was low and were unable to resonate her vision and good intentions for the school.

    (5b) What could she have done to work better with all the teachers?
    It is important to note that whilst the persistence of external challenges remained constant, the nature of internal challenges, over which the Principal had more direct influence, did not. Considering teachers are the most important resource in moving the school forward, Ms Stubb could have involved them in discussions and decision-making.
    (6a) What are your vision and aim as an educator?
    (6b) How do your values shape and influence your vision and aim of education?

    I believe every child has the potential to excel according to the individual capacity and interest. As educators, we bear the responsibility to help them build up the basic foundations on literacy and numeracy and also confidence in themselves. At the same time, we influence and imbue in them the desired values of respect, resilience, compassion and integrity. These values would help to ensure the pupils become contributing members in society and manage the challenges they might face in life.

    I quote from the Educational Philosophies Self-Assessment Scoring Guide on Cognitivism/Constructivism:

    ‘The learner actively constructs his or her own understandings of reality through acting upon and reflecting on experiences in the world. When a new object, event, or experience does not fit the learner’s present knowing structures, a conflict is provoked that requires an active quest to restore a balance. Teachers facilitate environmental conditions and mediate experiences to support student learning.’

    – Shirley

  8. Q1. The three things I would do if I am Marie Stubbs are:
    i) Formulate Ethos of school so that teachers and pupils know their role and purpose. This is to be communicated to all staff and pupils for clarification of understanding and to seek shared purpose and values of school. Asking questions like:
    Why we are here?,
    What we hope to achieve together?
    What we want to achieve together?
    How to do it together?
    with the understanding that all members of the school staff and the pupils have a role in it. The School leader must also role model the ethos in order for it to be impactful.

    ii) To remove the negative mental model of staff and pupils had. This mental model of pupils from teachers will make them judgmental and affect their action in their dealing with students. They have already formed a mindset that prevents them from seeing the goodness and potential of their pupils. Make students believe that they are able to achieve and taste success in life and how the school community is able to come in to support and provide the necessary guidance in their aspiration.

    iii) Build trust and relationship among teachers and pupils by looking at the form of assistance needed individually or collectively and how to overcome the obstacles encounter together. Create an environment and develop a culture of care in the school where both teachers and students can turn to during times of need.

    Q2. The followings are what I have inferred after watching the film:
    Vision: A caring community of engage learners that value diversity
    Aim: To nurture and develop the potential of every pupil to the fullest.
    Values: Responsibility, Care, Resilient, Empathy, Respect

    Q3. In my opinion, the followings are what she had done right:
    • Setting clear expectations and rules for the school and model the way
    • Believe in her students and treated them as unique individuals.
    • Seeing possibility in her students and their potential.
    • Trusted her students and allowed them to take responsibilities.
    • Seeing goodness in her pupils rather than their misbehavior.
    • Sharing of successes in the school and recognize that these are collective efforts and everyone plays a role in it
    • Recognised and affirmed actions of teachers and pupils in making improvement.
    • A genuine heart to help pupils who were in needs and a strong determination to change and turn the school around.

    Q4. She had failed to communicate to her teachers her purpose and intention of the changes that she had put in place for the school. These had resulted in division between them and the assumption that she was being difficult on them. She should have gathered their feedback and seek their understanding in why things had to be done in a certain way; having the teacher to submit action plan and upholding a professional image and working together with the teachers. Give support to the teachers and allow them to take ownership in achieving the shared goal.

    Q5. She might not have given all teacher spaces to voice their opinion and might have missed the life world of the teachers as such communication was lacking in the whole process. Marie Stubbs has given a choice to the teachers in deciding whether they would want to join her in turning the school around and by not going after the teachers who had the intention of leaving the school.

    Q6. Harbermas mentioned of a “symbolic reproduction” in the lifeworld where it is continually being recreated when we communication with others to gain mutually shared meanings. She should have constantly engage the teachers in and hear them out in the process.

    Q7.My vision is to develop creative Leaders who are morally upright, responsible and caring. As for my aim, it is to develop the intellectual and nurture the heart of every individual in a caring community.

    Q8. I would like to share a quote from our ex Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew which strongly resonate my values and aim as an educator.
    “A man is as good as he is, and the degrees and titles he has after his name does not make him a better or lesser man In the last analysis, it is what a man worth – his innate ability, his intellectual discipline and his drive – which determines his effectiveness and usefulness in society.”

    — Steven

  9. If I’m a principal like Ms Marie Stubbs, I think these would be the top 3 things that I will do upon assuming the appointment:

    1. Meet with the teachers and have a dialogue session with the team. This would allow me to hear and understand the issues and challenges that the teachers are facing, and providing insights and allow reflection on how the management team can help them address the issues and challenges. Teachers are invited to share openly without prejudice and judgement, and open to suggestions of options and ways to address the various issues. The dialogue session would also allow me to share what’s at stake for the school, the vision, mission and direction for the school team, set out expectations and convey the importance of the teachers in pulling the school through this challenge as it’s a team effort (not a one-man-show) to transform the school. Hopefully the dialogue could boost the teachers morale, re-kindle their passion and commitment to being a teacher.

    2. Meet with the administrative team and have a dialogue session with the team. Similarly, it is to understand the team’s issues, challenges and their overloaded work. It allows an opportunity to understand their situation and to review how administration can be reformed and improved. The facilities team can provide an update on the condition of school facilities. A walk-through of the school compound to review areas that require maintenance and areas to improve for a better school environment to study and work in (such as aesthetic décor, classrooms, notice board for circulars and educational posters etc)

    3. Formation of a taskforce committee chaired by me (comprising deputies and teachers) to oversee and steer the initiatives and plans. We will study and analyse our student profiles and demographics, the discipline and crime cases, student attendances, punctuality, school bullies etc. We will also study and analyse school curriculum and teacher’s lesson plans. This would allow us to identify and prioritise the key areas for the school to address to. Formation of sub-committees comprising of teachers to oversee and steer the specific areas.

    In my view, what did she do that was right?

    In the case of Ms Marie Stubbs, I feel that she did her best she can and know-how to pull the school through the challenges. She put in effort and personal time to understand and know her students, and finding ways to help her students. She has instilled back self-esteem, faith and hope to her students when she empowered them and gave them ownership to various school projects (such as the May ball, the memorial garden, the play). She has instilled values such as commitment and responsibility through these student involvements. Involving parents with school activities and events put the parents back into their child’s education journey and growth. With her consistent messages and actions, she conveyed to the students that she believes in them, there for them and all the things that the school did are for the good of the students. She also did right by bringing order, discipline and sharing her expectations from the students.

    In my view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?

    She has exhibited authoritative leadership style but I guess she felt it was the most effective way to get things done given the circumstances that the school is in. Regretfully, through her authoritative leadership, she didn’t engage, dialogue and connect with the teachers and administrative staff adequately at the start. Staff morale was already low and with her dictating ways, criticisms and failure to listen, she lost staff support. Without the staff support, she could only relied on her close deputies and selected staff to help her address the challenges and reforms at the beginning. The school transformation may have occurred earlier if she has garnered staff support from the start and maybe a less uphill effort.

    Teaching is a vocation and as a school leader, I think she should have focused on the intrinsic motivations for teachers to preserve their passion and commitment to the teaching profession. The intrinsic values that the teachers believe in and hold close to the heart cannot be neglected. It is less favourable to only focus and emphasise on motivating teachers through extrinsic ways like money, promotions & power, systems like performance appraisals etc. As school leaders, we create an environment conducive and encourage growth, just like a gardener tending and nurturing a garden for the flowers to grow and bloom. She should have engaged in dialogue and communication, active listening and empathy with the teachers.

    What is her vision of, values in, and aim of education?

    For Ms Marie Stubbs, I think her vision of education is of inclusivity. Every student and child deserves a good education regardless of race, citizenship, religious faith, special needs and family status (many of her students were from foreign students, various race and religious faith etc). At the beginning when she asked for the student breakdowns, she also would like to know of students that have special needs. In the film, she shared with her teachers that education is about inspiring students, giving real education and knowledge and the students do good in school and beyond. Her education values are quite rooted in her religious faith such as patience, compassion, kind, keep no records of wrong, protects, hope, persevere, choice and responsible and not self-seeking. Her aim of education is to want student to want to learn. She want to open the eyes of the students and create opportunities for her students to experience beyond textbooks and classrooms (such as through the May ball, the school play, working part-time based on their passion).

    – Adelena

  10. What do you think is her vision of, values in, and aim of education?
    Short –term vision- To get the school out of the special measures before the end of the year.
    Long term vision – is about inspiration, real long term education
    Motto: Moving forward together 2010.
    Aim of education : follows Postmodernism- empowerment and transformation. She wants to engage the students, wants to give each of them a chance and wants them to develop their own identities.
    Values: She wants her students to be god fearing, responsible, every student counts, confident and wants to inculcate the importance of family (importance of family bonding).
    (a)In your view, what did she do that was right?
    She did a lot of things that seem to have fallen well in place (as a movie). Announcing and then fulfils the May Ball at a top class hotel to make the kids feel confident etc .
    Initially she was strict with teachers and letting them know of her expectations, however, later she shares with them her short term goals of getting the school out of the special measures and communicates and asks from them their opinion and views.
    (b) In your view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?
    She had too many things in-hand (from school- to parents), although I do suppose that her two deputy’s might have been very important to her as they were her only confidant and many things although not shown in the movie could have been done through their support.

  11. If you are Ms Marie Stubbs, what are 3 things you will do as the principal? Rank them in order of priority.
    1. Ensure safety of both students and teachers
    a. There can be no work done if students and teachers are constantly being harassed whether physically or emotionally. If not addressed immediately, these would continue to add more and even amplify psychological barriers that could impede or crumble any interventions introduced.
    b. It is therefore necessary to set things in order, stamp out any discipline issues while constantly communicating the rationale of the interventions as well as laying out clear expectations of student behaviour (similar to what Marie had done – focusing on punctuality, proper uniform and orderliness)
    2. Engage the teachers; raise their morale
    a. Teachers are the key to any interventions. A battered staff is no much of a help even with the best strategy in place.
    b. Adopt a tight-loose approach. On one hand, it is important to listen to the ground grievances (having frequent dialogues), it is also necessary to raise and maintain high standards of professionalism. As such, while the ‘nursing’ is important, the greater imperative would be to work with the teachers to re-kindle their ‘first love’ for teaching.
    c. Consequently, no efforts would be spared in bringing forth any forms of support to make each teacher a success in their classroom.
    d. Last but not least, no amount of talks and deeds would be of effect if the teachers do not see the sincerity from their leader, and being sincere is the outflow of a leader who believes in their staff as capable of rising to meet the challenges of the occasion.
    3. Enhance students’ self-concept
    a. Reinforce positive belief in students’ sense of self-concept (self-esteem, self-awareness, etc.) regularly through different platforms as what Marie had done – assembly times, organising graduation dinner, involvement in school improvement and giving attention to individual student.
    b. Attuned to students’ needs whether these are physiological or emotional, and even their aspirations, and be proactive to meet these and at the same time, connect with individual student as well as a student body.
    c. Acknowledge students’ ability, talent and potential both privately and publicly. This is oxygen to sustaining students’ perception of themselves, and henceforth their success in life.

    (a) In your view, what did she do that was right?
    1. Marie was firmed, addressed the fundamental issues of disciplines in the school as well as making connections with the students individually and collectively. She confronted, from the onset, any errant behaviour of the students heads-on. Among others, she instituted proper behavioural norms such as punctuality, orderliness and instilling pride through the school uniform.
    2. She communicated her belief in the students and raised their dignity. She saw beyond the surface of their behaviour as outbursts of seeking attention and turned these around to focus on their potential. I would consider that she believes in the intrinsic value of people, and that each individual can and want to learn. This is clearly illustrated from what she mentioned to one of the students, Rory, “I cannot make you learn but I want you to want to learn”. Her starting point was then to raise the students’ belief of themselves and what they can do for themselves (such as giving Rory an alarm clock so that he can be on time for school), not only in what would be expected of them by the educational authority but also what would be meaningful to them.
    3. She is fully aware of the academic demands as prescribed by their education system. As such, she did not compromise on the demands of academic requirement and ‘pushed’ for her teachers to up their stake by reviewing and improving their lesson plans that could better engage their students. However, more importantly, she hit the nail when she actively connected with the students. For example, she ensured that their physiological needs are taken care of too, as in the case of getting a safer place for Lucia (?) to live in.

    4. She gave the students hope, knowing that they are valued and useful. Two examples, one is the graduation ball she organised and connected Rory to a mechanic simply because he loves to work with cars. The scene where Rory shook Marie’s hand with gratitude and with a smile as he left school is indelible, and that perhaps, is truly the aim of education, instead of academic performance. This instance reminds of Maya Angelou’s quote – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    5. In her haste of pushing through her agenda, Marie was hit hard by the defiance of the teachers. Nevertheless, her saving grace, and what she did right was to appeal to the teachers’ sense of ‘calling’ as a teacher. A case in point, it works, judging from the few teachers that turned up for the graduation ball despite the initial refusal of these teachers to attend the graduation ball. This is while a small victory for her, it is her sincerity, tenacity and grit that won people over. This is best articulated by one of the teachers withdrawing his resignation when he said, “… You are doing good things here, and I want to be part of it …” As people would say, the result speaks for itself.
    (b) In your view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?
    1. While she ran with her vision (chiefly to get the school out of ‘special measures’), she could have sensed the frustration of the teachers. It may have been better if she had actively listened to each teacher and even collectively, and possibly, to consider and support some of their suggestions.

  12. Q2 &Q3
    This movie inspired me very much. Marie Stubbs had a strong personality and belief. She was determined to make changes and reform the school, St,George . For me, at the begging, it looked like an impossible mission, but I was impressed to see her determination to succeed despite all the difficulties that she faced from inside (school teachers and staff, misbehavior of students, unsupportive parents) and from outside the presser from the government to do well in their reports.
    Marie had a strong philosophy, which was a combination of traditional values (like manners, wearing uniform and no chewing gum) and a more modern child-centered approach,” Every child is valuable. You need to stick to simple overview principles and hone the craft of teaching so you can respond to every child.” She built close relationships with students, and tried to help those who had difficulties, to change their behavior, by giving them responsibility.
    She did the right thing by being a role model and showing the students how to behave and dress. She always dressed properly; she worked with the students hand by hand to rebuild the memory garden and she picked up dirt from the floor.
    It was very obvious to see that the first thing that she wanted to make clear was that there were rules at school, and that every single student had to follow the school rules.

    She wanted the students to gain responsibility by saying: “to whom does the school belong to? This school belongs to you, you are the reason the school is here, it was built for you….” I was very impressed to see the students’ faces, who tried to understand her words. By thinking this way, she wanted to change the students’ mind-set and to influence them to understand that the atmosphere at school depends on their behaviour and their responsibility.
    I could see her determination to change the school’s atmosphere by hanging plants, recoloring the walls in bright, upbeat colours, renewing the playground and marking lines up and down the stairs. All this was made up to reduce the violence and motivate students and teachers, to build a good environment for study.
    She was driven by belief in God and young people – “the role of the school is to make up to children what the family can’t provide”, she dealed with students who had a bad background and she knew that discipline is very important for success.
    Marie was backed up by strong leadership and effective management but unlikely she failed to build her support from the teachers at school. She never stopped even once to see; her teachers’ frustration, listened to their needs or tried to be empathetic to their situation. She was determined in her own way without looking back to see if the teachers were cooperative with her. As a new leader who comes to any organization, it`s very important to talk first with your staff and to listen to their needs, because at the end of the day they are the ones who help you to succeed; no one can do it without support.
    As a principal, I think the most important thing is to build a good relationship and support with your staff as without them it’s very difficult to implement changes at school and to give an impact on students and parents to be with you all the way, in such an extreme journey like Marie had.

  13. (1) Three priorities: Sort out the teachers (provide vision, improve competencies and behaviour), Involve the Partners (Motivate the Admin Staff and Involve Parents), Reform the Students.

    (2) While Marie Stubb’s Philosophy of Education is based on Pragmatism (allow students to choose what kind of learning they want), the approach to achieve that is more on Realism. She knew that if the students did not improve on their behaviour such as class attendances and punctuality among others, the school will be forced to close. Therefore, she needed to develop measures to placate the School Inspectors. She was objective and adopted a no-nonsense school-wide approach to reform the school. Besides requesting for students to dress properly, she also put the teachers to task by demanding that they prepared their lesson plans.

    (3) The value that Marie Stubb brought to St. George’s was the belief that every student could be good. For example, she told the students that she was confident that they will behave themselves during the May ball for graduating students held at a top notch hotel in town. She inspired her teachers by her display of inexhaustible energy and determination to get the school off special assistance. Her remarks to her staff: “You are the ones that will make the School right. It is our duty to do so”. The word “duty” was indeed powerful, heralding and firing up the spirits of the teachers.

    (4) What I was impressed with most was her refusal to being publicly acknowledged that she was instrumental in bringing about positive change to St. George. She did her job dutifully with no personal agenda.

    (5) Marie Stubb could have gotten more teachers to support her reform policies if she could include the teachers to co-develop the School vision together. In the movie, she behaved more like a dictator that demanded that the teachers change. My learning in change management at my workplace suggested that individual buy-in is absolutely necessary for positive change to happen.

    (6) I have a thought. In the medical field, there was a code of conduct, known as the Hippocratic Oath, in which every doctor-to-be need to swear by. Teachers in MOE too have a pledge. They are stated as:
    We will be true to our mission to bring out the best in our pupils.
    We will be exemplary in the discharge of our duties and responsibilities.
    We will guide our pupils to be good and useful citizens of Singapore.
    We will continue to learn and pass on the love of learning to our pupils.
    We will win the trust, support and co-operation of parents and the community so as to enable us to achieve our mission.”

    In the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), we have a Code of Conduct for Instructors as well. Whenever our role switched to being an instructor in the SAF, we will recite this Code of Honour in front of our students. I felt this all the pledges, be it Medical, MOE and the SAF, are good ways to remind ourselves the sacred duties that we professionals as doctors or teachers or soldiers owe to our clients.

    (7) I am a “Believe to See” person instead of a “See to Believe” person. I believe that all students want to do good. We need to provide the opportunity. Some students may take a bit longer to get there. But in the end, they will arrive.

  14. Activity 1: If I am Marie Stubbs, I would do some of the things she did in the movie but in a different order and perhaps in a slightly different manner:
    1. I would address the teachers to communicate clear objectives and then talk to them individually to understand each of their difficulties to see how I can help them overcome their problems. While there is a time constraint, the importance of motivating the teachers and to get them to be on my side cannot be neglected. To rebuild the school and taking it off security measures cannot be accomplished by me alone. I would need my team to back me up and give me all support they can possibly gve. It is also important to communicate the critical situation, consequences to the teachers if the school is not taken off security measures. Only with understanding that the teachers will support me.
    2. I would also asked for the profiles of the students to understand their background which would most likely affect their behavior. Knowing the cause can allow me to find the appropriate way to handle the students.
    3. I would lay down some ground rules for the students right from the start and not implement them part by part along the way.

    Activity 2: Mary Stubbs’ vision of, values in, and aim of education.
    Her vision of education is to ensure all children of school-going age to receive a proper education regardless of their background. She emphasized that the students at St. George’s should not be seen differently from students of other schools.
    Her values in education is to have perseverence, respect for both teachers and students, responsibility and care towards the students. She believes in richness, inspiration and real education.
    Her aim of education: to trigger interest in learning and getting the students to participate by undertanding their needs and giving them responsibilities. E.g. giving Lucia the garden to take care of and making Debbie the stage manager.

    Activity 3: In my view, I think she is right to maintain trust and confidence in th students regardless of their behavior. She believes that they will do well if they want to. On the other hand, she could have shown more empathy towards the teachers and give them sufficient support to carry out their work. She could have improve her relationship with them through better communication and understanding. She could also have made them feel that they are important to her by talking to them, especially those whom she knew has intention of resigning.

    Activity 4: I have always attempt to maintain an open channel of communication to allow teachers and I to understand each other’s ideas and constraints. Mutual understanding fosters trust and confidence which are two important factors in maintaining teachers’ autonomy in their work and fro them to follow me to achieve a common goal.

    Activity 5: Mary Stubbs was seen to be autocractic and domineering by the teachers in the movie as she bulldozed her way through many changes and expected them to be followed. She did not give the teachers chance to share their woes and difficulties. If she is just as patience with the teachers as she ws with the students, I am sure she would have been able to garnered more support from them. She needs to listen to the teachers and also to make them understand her constraints and objectives as well.

    Activity 6: Honestly, I do not have a vision of education yet. However, I hope that every student is given an opportunity to learn what they are interested in. I believe that students will do well in things that they are interested in. What we educators can do is to trigger that interest and facilitate their learning. I also believe thst we need to ive students freedom to explore and experiment and not tie them down with too many rules. That will encourage creativity in finding answers for themselves..

  15. (1) If you are Ms Marie Stubbs, what are 3 things you will do as the principal? Rank them in order of priority.

    The 3 things that I would do:
    – Gather all the staff (academic and non-academic) for engagement session – talk about vision, mission, core values, expectations, fears and hopes.
    – Have a dialogue session with the parents to reassure them that as a principal, I will do my best to transform the educational and social climate of the school.
    – Spend time knowing and understanding each student’s needs and desires so that I can motivate them in their learning and development.

    (2) What do you think is her vision of, values in, and aim of education?

    Ms Marie Stubbs’ vision was to transform the school and the people living in it. Her obvious values are perseverance, reflectiveness, appreciation and inventiveness. Her aim of education is to see the students and teachers maximizing their potential by tapping on their strengths. To her, it is not about personal glory (as at the end of the show, she quietly went back to her office instead of receiving the standing ovation). She wants to see each individual achieving success.

    (3) In your view, what did she do that was right?

    – She instilled discipline and expected behaviors among students.
    – She sees the potential in all her students and communicate in such a way that motivates them to be a better person.
    – She was smart to rope in her 2 deputy heads so that she had an inner circle of capable employees whom she can depend on, at least at the start of a very difficult situation in school.
    – She focused on the goal, i.e., to get the school out of special measures, which had helped her to pull through all the challenges; especially when there was a media backlash about her.
    – She used reversed physcology to challenge the students nearing the inspection day.
    – She emphasized that the teachers should dress well. Though it may sound trivial, but dressing up builds professional image – how parents, students and even teachers view themselves.

    (4) In your view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?

    She could have spend time to engage the school staff to avoid speculation and discontentment.

    (5) In your view, to what extent did she provide sufficient spaces where the voices of teachers could be heard and negotiated agreement could be reached?

    In the beginning, Marie Stubbs came across as a headmistress who was strict and demanding. She altered her leadership approach only when there was not a single teacher who was keen to help out at the graduation ball. I felt that from that point, she began to soften her approach and listen more. Even Graham Ranger was drawn to her leadership style and withdrew his resignation.

    (6) What could/should she have done to work better with all the teachers?

    Establish common goals at the beginning. Build trust, especially with teachers who have more influence so that they can help to pull the rest over to her camp.

    (7) What are your vision and aim as an educator?

    As a principal, I would like to empower teachers with the necessary tools to see that their vocation is a calling, not just a job. When teachers are motivated, they in turn will then want to make a difference in the children’s learning and development.

    (8) How do your values shape and influence your vision and aim of education?

    I place a lot of emphasis/ value on children’s social emotional development. When young children are loved in the relationships with their immediate caregivers/ teachers, they will then feel secure to explore and learn. Children may be born with different degree of IQ, however, when they have high EQ, they will definitely soar like eagles in life later on. Therefore, in the school that I am leading, I do my best to create a social environment that believes in the goodness and potential of each child and staff.

  16. (1) If you are Ms Marie Stubbs, what are 3 things you will do as the principal? Rank them in order of priority.

    If I am in a similar situation like Ms Stubbs, given only four terms to turn the school around with one miserable week to prepare myself, I must admit I would have to adopt a tough stance like her and get straight to business.
    3 things in order of priority: Bring in some former colleagues who dependable and have experience dealing with similar situations to be in my task force, set SMART goals with my new staff and students and be very hands-on in achieving culture change.

    (2) What do you think is her vision of, values in, and aim of education?
    From her actions and teacher expectations, she believes that children can be inspired by good education in spite of the problems or challenges that they face. She wants every child to come to school to learn and be a useful and active contributor to the society.

    (3) In your view, what did she do that was right?
    First, she managed to secure the services of Sean and Leary to join her in St George’s School for this special mission. Without people that can be of immediate help to her, she may not get anything moving as the existing school staff are full of gripes and moans, deflated ego and feeling defeated. Next, she focused on doing what was right to change the school culture like emphasise manners, no chewing gum, report in school uniforms, stamp out bullying, unlock garden etc. She also raised students’ morale by wanting a May ball held at a top London Hotel for the Year 11 students to celebrate the end of their time at St George. Her high expectations on Teaching and Learning in the classrooms are illustrated through her requests for learning plans.

    (4) In your view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?
    If she was given more time to turn the school around, I am sure she will want to build a more lasting and collegial relationship with her teaching staff. She seemed like an authoritarian to many of the teachers and expected everyone to do things her way. She didn’t seem to spend much time to communicate her thinking and good intentions with her people and get their buy-in. People working with and under her leadership may find her aloof and not being understanding.

    (5) In your view, to what extent did she provide sufficient spaces where the voices of teachers could be heard and negotiated agreement could be reached?
    I agree that she could have provide more spaces for the teachers’ voices to be heard and allows different views to be considered and be less autocratic especially in decision making. However in her unique situation where she knew that turnaround must be completed in four terms, she simply had no room for errors and tough decisions though painful but good for the longer term must be implemented. Even if she allowed for more time and space to hear everyone out, she might not get consensual agreement to the ‘right but painful’ decisions.

    (6) What could/should she have done to work better with all the teachers?
    If she is given more time (2 years or longer) to transform the school, I believe she will take more time to build relationships with her staff and get things done through them and with them.

    (7) What are your vision and aim as an educator?
    I still believe that education is a social leveller and educators can make a difference by inspiring the young (student) to possess the correct moral values in life and be an active contributor in any field that will best fit his/her strengths and aspirations.

    (8) How do your values shape and influence your vision and aim of education?
    My values on character and citizenship that I adopted from Confucian Ethics has strengthened my belief that education besides preparing students for the workforce of tomorrow must also ensure that all are to know the good, desire the good and do the good.

  17. I have watched the first 2 parts and I think COMMUNICATION with the different stakeholders is the key to successful management in this challenging school. Being a newcomer to this new environment, Miss Stubbs is naturally not so familiar with the underlying forces and hidden elements of the school culture. I think she should

    1) spend a lot of time communicating with all the current staff and listen empathetically to each experiences and problems. She should familiarize herself with whatever happened in the past in this school and try to understand the problems via different perspectives and judge from a fresh and objective angle.

    2) observe cliques among students and talk to them in groups as it is less efficient to communicate one-to-one with each student. As there are different conflicting groups among students it is good for her to understand the discontent and complains in each subgroup.

    3) build strong rapport with parents as most problematic students are from a problematic family. A principal cant solve all the problem. She needs the support from parents who are still playing a big role in the life of those rebellious kids.

    Tze Chau

  18. My response after watching part 1 and 2.

    To begin with, the issues with the school could be viewed from a social perspective that requires solutions to address the problems causing the delinquency of students in St Georges School in London. Tapping on the strengths and systems perspective from social work practices may be a useful approach in this case. The strengths approach seeks to use targeted counseling and intervention techniques to identify the strengths and qualities of youth and work towards solutions (Clark ,1996a and b; 1997 and Nissen 1998a and b). Closely linked to this is the systems model whereby the we recognize the role of families, communities as “asset builders,” taking a proactive role in impacting youth and their development (Benson, 1997).

    Depending on the amount of preparation time at hand there could be a range of action to take from the point of taking over as principal of the school. This could include identifying neighborhood resources, learning the background of every child in the school including past records if any, interviewing key personnel in the school etc.

    In order of priority I would employ the following strategies:

    1) Garner the support of neighborhood resources ie police to provide standby resources around the school, counsellors & youth workers who could be called in to work with youth at risk, retailers to restrain sale of unacceptable products.

    2) Work with teachers to draw up the profile of each of their student and map out the strengths of each student from their knowledge or experience (regardless of how small a talent or interest this may be).

    3) Work with teachers to draw up a values based curriculum that is student centred and spans from music, art, language, mathematics etc. The physical environment, daily schedule, lectures, discussions, interactions will permeate a culture that reinforces positive values.

    There’s certainly more things that can be done but to me the most important is to get a grasp of resources within and around the school.

    My responses to the rest of the activities will follow in due course.


  19. (1) If you are Ms Marie Stubbs, what are 3 things you will do as the principal? Rank them in order of priority.
    a. Get the students discipline in order. With discipline, teachers can introduce structure. Teenagers need structure. As Marie Stubbs said in the movie “nature does not like vacuum; if there is no structure, in place of that, the students will choose chaos”.
    b. Improve the morale of the teaching staff. Marie Stubbs could have done better in this area. The teaching staff was demoralised as Marie Stubbs was one of the many School Leaders that had taken up the position; tried to implement changes and when they failed, left the school in a lurch.
    c. Look into the lessons, classroom management and the actual teaching in class. With discipline in placed and staff motivated; only then can real learning can take place.
    (2) What do you think is her vision of, values in, and aim of education?
    Her short term vision was to get the St George’s school out of Special Measures. This is the main reason why she wasted no time in making many changes. Even at the expense of marginalising some of the teachers. There was an audit by OFSTED at the beginning of her term and then somewhere in the middle and another one approximately 15 months after she started. Under her charge the audit indicated that the school had progressed significantly. After that the school was taken of Special Measures.
    Her long term vision was to ensure the continued existence of the school. After the second audit, she suspected that the Diocese was hoping that she would fail and the building could be sold. She wanted to prove them wrong. This was because she believed that the school was necessary for the people in the neighbourhood especially since the neighbourhood was made up mostly by immigrants. She said that they came from all over the world to study in England.
    I believe she is a Pragmatist. There were no examples in a class setting but in many instances she used the strength of the students to execute a project. For example, she sent one the boy to be a mechanic apprentice when he said that he was not so interested in school. Another example was the girl who became the Stage Manager.
    (3) In your view, what did she do that was right?
    Firstly she managed to instil discipline in the students. Second, she “walk the talk” with regards to leading the teachers. Third, she used the strength of each student and/or staff to get the job done. She even used her own daughters to make the May Ball a success. She was focused and persevered through the obstacles.
    (4) In your view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?
    She could have communicated better with her teaching staff. Additionally, she was rather nonchalant at the high number of resignations within her staff.

    (5) In your view, to what extent did she provide sufficient spaces where the voices of teachers could be heard and negotiated agreement could be reached?
    She did not provide sufficient avenues for feedback. Most of her meetings were like lectures from her to her staff. She was also “preachy” by quoting the Bible. She only listens to the staff when they “raised” their voice or when they spoke to her in a one-on-one situation.
    (6) What could/should she have done to work better with all the teachers?
    She needs to improve on her communication skills vis-a-vis her staff.
    (7) What are your vision and aim as an educator?
    Deep inside me I believe that I am idealist. Education should be for the pursuit of attaining a certain level of understanding on why we are here and what is our role in the grand scheme of things be it in the present and the future. I would always ask myself what is the cause and effect of our existence. And I would get my students to constantly ask themselves the same set of questions. Knowledge is about seeking the truth. However, I am much influenced by the Pragmatist ideas that there is no absolute truth. Everything is contextual and that includes the acquiring and the spread of knowledge. At the same time, living in Singapore does not allow us the luxury of taking the Idealist approach. Education is part of the paper chase in order to stay ahead of the competition. I may not fully subscribe to this believe system but I am pragmatic enough to know that the Realist approach is necessary to survive comfortably in Singapore. Ideas alone and the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of itself is not going to feed the family.
    (8) How does your values shape and influence your vision and aim of education?
    It determines the way I teach. Even though I teach in a Technical College, I try to infuse values into what I teach. For instance, I would ask my students whether, if they are working in a bakery and at closing time there are excess food; would they throw the food away or give it to charity? I would tell them what I would do but would never tell them what they should do. Another way is the projects that I choose. For the past 3 years I have been bringing students to carry out Community Involvement type of project in Indonesia. They are called Youth Expedition Projects. My first project was to help do minor renovations in Jogjakarta and the subsequent two was to assist in an Orangutan Conservation Project in Bukit Lawang. Through these projects, I hope that my students will be more responsible global citizens.

  20. 2) What do you think is her vision of, values in, and aim of education?

    Marie’s vision of Education is anchored on holistic learning encompassing music, language, Mathematics, religion, sports etc. She adopted a combination of both pragmatism and realism as she steered the students towards learning lessons from what they enjoyed most. Student Rory was given an opportunity to learn from something he loved best – cars and his love for cars. Student Lucher was invited to help out in the memory garden. Where management of teachers were concerned she went with a structured approach demanding lesson plans, behavior change including their approach to disciplining students.
    Similarly she demanded a values driven culture both among teachers as well as students. Teachers were told that their appearance starting with dressing should change and that they need to be mindful of the language used in disciplining students eg she told a teacher not to tell her student that he was “invisible” reminding her that he probably has heard enough of that. Students were called on to take ownership for their school as she told them things like “the school belonged to them”, that there was nothing wrong in gum chewing except there was a time and place for that.
    Closely linked to the values driven approach is her emphasis on cultivation of moral character, civic mindedness, developing reasoning through practical experiences as seen in the similar examples in talking to and subtly educating the students. It was evident that she firmly believed that learning for life is the aim and purpose of education

    3) In your view, what did she do that was right?

    I am of the opinion that she did many things right in the context and circumstances that she was faced with. Beginning with her strong leadership which was explicit in the following examples:
    – demanding a culture of discipline with teachers
    – interacting personally with students
    – participating in student’s activities sports, dance etc
    – engaging parents, providing opportunity for a parent to become a volunteer in the school
    – influencing a change among teachers

    (4) In your view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?

    Undoubtedly there were areas where she could have managed things better. I can’t say she failed but I think she could have better engaged the teachers in dealing with several situations rather than trying to solve everything on her own. In this area she could have better engaged the teachers from the start by explaining her stand and reasons. For example when she wanted them to do lesson plans she only said that it would help her to know what’s happening in the class.

  21. 5) In your view, to what extent did she provide sufficient spaces where the voices of teachers could be heard and negotiated agreement could be reached?
    Personally I didn’t think she had provided much of a space where voices of teachers could be heard. There were small things that she did though that had semblance of “space” for eg she had canvassed for support for teachers to work with her to stop the practice of licking students out during the break time and one or two responded; she impressed upon teachers need for their presence at the ball explaining that it was part of true education and 3 teachers turned up; at one point she started to tell them that she recognized their dedication though it was their duty and they were accountable to higher authorities.

    While these were not ways for “negotiated agreement to be reached” but in subtle ways and through some of the actions (as mentioned above, the responses of some teachers and eventually more of them, showed an unspoken agreement to come together in the interest of the students and the school.

    (6) What could/should she have done to work better with all the teachers?
    Perhaps she could have created better platforms for discussions. One of the things she could have started of doing is tapping on their knowledge of students, and working out strategies to turn around the school together. That is the role of a leader.
    By her instructional actions towards staff, she could have subjected herself to “administrators satisfice rather than maximise” their strengths and therefore failed to “examine all possible behaviour alternatives” which could have translated to better support from her team. (Chua and Sison). There was little room for discussion most of the time.
    Having said that, her leadership approach may have been necessary given the short time frame she had to turn around the school. To some extent her actions may have been deliberate. Leading by example is a management style which, in this case, worked wonders as teachers saw the results of her actions and behaviour towards students which eventually changed the culture of the students and the school.
    (7) What are your vision and aim as an educator?
    I believe that the vision and aim in education cannot be articulated in single word or phrase. There are stages of growth in human life and education spans across one’s life time. Hence my vision and aim as an educator would grow and expand through the various stages of one’s life. For example, from the age of an infant to toddler and even pre-school, it’s a period for “cognitive development” where learning should take the ‘form of discovery and ‘holistic , then comes the age for primary leading on to secondary education where education should be structured with “systematic curriculum, organised under various disciplines eg mathematics and science concurrently developing the love for the finer arts. This stage will soon be replaced by an important phase between teens and adulthood. Here’s when the learning from infant hood through early childhood becomes the reference for the chosen pathways that one undertakes. Knowledge at this stage is something to search for to achieve desired outcomes in life.
    Learning continues even as one enters matured adulthood where a combination of values, knowledge (technical or otherwise) becomes relevant and applicable as the form live skills for earning and living. Even as and when one transcends gracefully from this phase to the older adulthood, so does learning transcend beyond self to family and community.
    The phases in education go through philosophical stages where combinations of idealism, realism, pragmatism are inherent in the learning journey of one’s self.
    Just like the butterfly so is the life of a human where life-long learning is the way to freedom of choice and contentment.
    (8) How do your values shape and influence your vision and aim of education?
    Respect, discipline, honesty and dedication are some of the values that underpin the basis of my believes in education. Hence I am quick to allude to classical ideas of education where the cultivation of moral character, civic-mindedness and social obligations (Classical traditions of educations; Tan and Wong) are foundations of education.
    While I ‘m not able to quote an existing curriculum in the local context I was privileged to have visited the Chinmaya Foundation in India where lessons from primary to secondary was infused with values. Lessons are taught drawing reference to values for eg respect for systems was infused in a biology lesson on organs which formed part of a internal systems (respiratory, digestive etc). Examination questions including mathematical questions were framed in consideration of human values and included a reflection for students to explain the relevance to one’s social obligation to society. This was during a recent Learning Journey undertaken in July this year to study the education framework in social settings in India.
    The experience has reinforced my views and believes on the importance of values in education to grow holistic individuals for the betterment of society and themselves.

  22. (1) The three things if I were Marie Stubbs are understanding the presenting situation through generative conversations and hearing perspectives, setting clear goals and directions through establishing common grounds and last but not least, garnering the staff, stakeholder and student support.

    (2) Her vision was to transform St. George’s into a school with a disciplined and orderly environment where students can learn and grow both academically and in their character. As depicted early in the show, she always made time to connect with the different students that come her way. Her aim of education is a mixed of realism and pragmatism. For example when she arranged for Debbie to be the stage manager and for Rory to go for the job experience as a car mechanic to equip him with the knowledge to succeed in life. One of her other aim of education was for the children to grow and direct their own life e.g when she shared with the parents that she was “not opposed to the children to chewing gum or wearing baseball caps” and that “there is a time and place” for such things.

    (3) Personally, I felt that there were a great number of things that she did that were right. The one that comes out at the top for me is that she recognize that the children as children and not beasts or kids as she rebutted the reporters at the beginning of the film. It is with this belief that she was able to see past the misbehavior of the children and direct them towards hope and transformation with firm, loving hands. On the other hand, I felt that she could have engaged the staff more at the beginning. As she has rightly pointed out as the movie progress, all of the staff had stuck to the school through it all. Those who would leave would have left already. Though disheartened and disorientated, there was a common stake which I felt she could have capitalized on more so that the changes could have been done with their input and thus instilling ownership, direction and hope that would create greater payoff to her vision and aim of education.

    (4) As a school leader, I gravitate towards what Marie Stubbs has said –“I cannot make you learn but I want you to want to learn…” Many a times, there are good programmes, objectives and initiatives rolled out and designed for both staff and students. However, due to real-life concerns and, perhaps, even limited understanding of these programmes and initiatives, many may choose to either not participate or just do for the sake of doing – thus undermining the good that had been intended. I believe that many educators have chosen the profession because they believe in the worth of the call even as they believe the potential in each child confided to our care. I also believe, just like Marie Stubbs, that inside each child is immense potential and hope that is uniquely his or hers – all just waiting to be actualized and recognized. Thus, through creating platforms to tap on generative discussion, understanding perspectives and enabling everyone to see past the stress, workload, deadlines and assessments of the moments (the gadflies!) many choiceworthy ends were achieved. Personally, I feel that a leader not only needs to have a clear understanding of that future picture. More importantly, one needs to be able to set out a clear, achievable roadmap, taking into consideration diverse perspective and leading the way, achieving and celebrating successes with the team.
    (5) In the beginning, I was surprised that not much spaces were provided for the voices of the teachers to be heard. It was not explicitly depicted as to the reasons or Marie’s perspective on the staff, but that eventually led to a sort of “French revolution” of sort.
    I thought that by while delineating clear guidelines and hearing the teachers’ thoughts and perspectives, addressing their concerns and simply by hearing them out (relationship building), she would have garner greater support and positive energy to move forward. Although I must say that she was really working under very great constraints of time.

    (6) Integrity at its lowest level can be just equitable to honesty. However, at another level it tells of one who is consistent in behavior, speech and action. The highest level of integrity, to me, is when one has been true to his or her God-given talents and abilities. This value has helped shape my vision and aim of education. I believe that no single person is at the receiving end of instructions or education. Simply put, nobody is a blank slate. Even the youngest child comes with a myriad of experiences that is valid to him or her. I cannot overemphasize on the power and influence of the community in learning and character education. Therefore, even as I seek to bring out the best in every child as an educator, I seek too to bring out the best in my fellow educators so that they can realize their call and potential as educator and thus contribute to the character development of these young lives confided to our care.

  23. Q1
    a)Impart my vision to the teachers seeking their partnership in transforming the school
    b)Impart my vision to the students seeking their cooperation in transforming the school
    c)Execute the vision as a collective whole harmoniously to realize the goal for St Georges’ School

    Q2 Her vision is attuned to the aim of education. To lift the school out from needing special measures to a school of good standing, which she has ultimately achieved.

    Q3 )
    She sought understanding from her teachers and students to work together to build notorious school to school of good standing – a school where the teachers are proud to teach because the students are of good behavior, diligent to get good results and there are mutual respect and loving concern for one another.

    Q4) She failed to communicate convincingly her idea to the teachers in particular because she was perceived as an unreasonable demanding boss and wanted things to be done fast like lesson plans to be planned fast and well. The teachers resented her idea. Even the administrative staff, Judy, could not keep up with her demand to send out letters to parents within a very short time. As many as 7-8 teachers resigned and even Judy herself. She could have taken more time to explain to them and give time more time to adapt to the new demands.

    Q5) She did not allow more time for the teachers to voice their opinions. She shared her vision and expected them to flow along. She seemed dominant and executed what she planned even with very little support. For instance, when she initiated the Ball for the upcoming school leavers, not many teachers supported and helped her. Nevertheless, her efforts paid off.

    Q6 )Again, she should have taken more time to explain her vision for transforming the school and implemented it at a reasonable pace for the teachers to follow.

    Q7) I shared Ms Marie Stubbs’ vision of transforming a school of sub-standard to a school of good standing.

    Q) I shared Ms Marie Stubbs’ view of bring the school out of its notoriety to a school of good standing. Her great courage, resilience in the midst of opposition both philosophically and physically, even slanders and wrongful accusations, she did not give out what she purposed to do. She is truly a modeled principal, though she could have given more time for both teachers and students to move along with her vision of transformation at a reasonable pace.

  24. (1) If you are Ms Marie Stubbs, what are 3 things you will do as the principal? Rank them in order of priority.
    1) Be very firm right at the start that such behaviour cannot be tolerated. Set in place rules, routines and clear consequences for discipline to be upheld in school.
    2) Engage staff in envisioning and believing in the potential of the children, to create collective purpose
    3) Set clear criteria for achievement in school and define what is meant by successful learning in this school
    (2) What do you think is her vision of, values in, and aim of education?
    I think Stubbs believes that all children can learn. She believes that each child has potential and that education should offer these children opportunities to maximise those potential so that they may experience success to progress. She could be more pragmatic in her approach to empower children with the K,S,A so that they can make wiser choices in life. She also likes to engage them in activities that are not confined to the textbooks or classrooms.
    (3) In your view, what did she do that was right?
    She is decisive in adopting an open concept to managing the school. She emphasizes on openness, transparency and inclusiveness in the running of the school. This is important in promoting a no-blame culture where issues and problems are discussed openly and there is no point hiding the issues that would eventually lead to bigger problems when hidden or ignored or “it’s not my business”.
    (4) In your view, what did she fail to do or do adequately? What should she have done?
    It may have been wise for her to spend some time to listen to the teachers and find out what each of them believes in as an educator, why they had come to teach/teach in this school. The teaching is going to happen only when the teachers believe in what they can offer the children in terms of education. If the teachers do not innately believe in what they do as educators, she ends up fighting the battle alone and at the very end, she will find herself shrouded in staff disengagement. While setting clear expectations for teachers to ensure that the children’s experiences are sound, Stubbs may want to also care for the teachers on a more personal note so that they feel that she is not only thinking of the children’s welfare but also theirs. There may also be historical reasons leading to the state that some teachers may hold information to. This can facilitate troubleshooting and quicken the pace for change by eliminating already tested solutions.
    (5) In your view, to what extent did she provide sufficient spaces where the voices of teachers could be heard and negotiated agreement could be reached?
    I feel that as in the earlier point, she had failed somewhat in engaging the hearts of the teachers although she did do so with the children. She is quite authoritative in her communication with the staff and appeared to care only for the children.
    (6) What could/should she have done to work better with all the teachers?
    I believe holding dialogue sessions with specific groups of staff will greatly enhance mutual understanding between school leader and staff. Of course, the sessions must first be non-threatening and a no-blame culture must be set before issues could be raised and for individuals to even be motivated to take up the challenge to resolve them. She could also start working on a PD plan for the staff to level them up in terms of TnL pedagogies or management skills to empower them.
    (7) What are your vision and aim as an educator?
    I think I would wish for the children to be confident, sincere yet humble individuals with big hearts. Confidence empowers them to be who they are, to stand up against odds, to be rugged in the face of challenges, to pick themselves up. Sincerity is the basis for building lasting relationships with people and this forms a support network for the children as they grow and help buffer the knocks in life. I feel they also need to have space in their hearts for more than themselves, to care and show love for others beyond self in order to be useful human beings in life.
    (8) How do your values shape and influence your vision and aim of education?
    My values are deeply influenced by my upbringing. Typically Asians, my parents ground me in Confucian values of which filial piety, respect and sincerity were emphasised. No matter how hard their living was, they found space to help others and give and treat others with a ‘good heart’. They are generally reserved in expressing aloud or in public with good sense, that one should not be loud or rude in speech. My experiences later on in life did however lead to the realisation that a critical level of confidence must remain to allow people to ‘react’ to injustice or when things are not done with much logic, to speak out against things that do not work and to develop a certain ruggedness amidst challenges of work and life in general. Keeping quiet will not help anyone. Hence this confidence I feel children must have too. I do also strongly feel that being able to love and care for others is an important trait children should grow up with. It makes them wholesome and their life purposeful. And when they grow old, they look back with little regrets, to a life filled with warm thoughts and shared affection.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: