Our steps include more efficient utilization of resources, better monitoring of finances and improved management of staff.
When the government schools were adopted there were little or no structures established for administration and no clear policies being followed to regulate processes like admissions, promotions, attendance and punctuality.
Our reform started with strengthening the administration. Over the years, an admission policy based on merit and equity has been established; SOPs to govern staff attendance, behaviour and performance developed and implemented and a performance-based student promotion policy introduced.
At the time of adoption, our schools were missing basic facilities, with issues ranging from a lack of safety and security to encroachment of the school premises by various elements.
We renovated the school facility to upgrade and provide missing facilities like functional bathrooms, safe wiring, clean drinking water; constructed modern facilities like computer labs, art studios, daycare, an auditorium and playgrounds; and hired full-time private security to safeguard the campus.
Thanks to years of teacher absenteeism and a weak administration, student interest was quite low at the beginning of our school reform journey, resulting in poor attendance and empty classrooms.
To catalyse the process of change, we introduced extra-curricular and co-curricular activities for senior students, such as sports, art and a variety of exploratory learning modules. We also began to provide counselling to habitually absent students and their parents and introduced a minimum of 80% attendance as a requirement for promotion to the next grade.
Like in most government schools, parents were not afforded the attention they deserved as primary stakeholders at our schools before we stepped in. From the outset, we strived hard to change this mindset among the school staff by establishing the practice of regular Parent Teacher Meetings every term, an open door policy encouraging two-way communication, Parent Orientations for all new programs. Today we not only have over 80% attendance at PTMs from both fathers and mothers, but also see several parents volunteering at and participating in various awareness workshops at the school.
A culture of convenience and complacency had set in the school staff, leaving no space for learning and growth. Coupled with low expectations from students this led to a compromise in the overall quality of learning both within and outside the classroom.
To encourage staff ownership and promote a healthy culture of peer learning, we have established teacher-led committees, offered regular development opportunities and workshops, as well as held vision setting exercises and staff appreciation events.
Absenteeism, lateness and a practice of missing classes even when in school were the norm among the teacher body when we took charge. Noticing the dire need for on-ground accountability, we established a system of monitoring teachers’ attendance, punctuality and discipline with the help of Section Heads and our own on-ground management staff. Regular communication with the Education Department was established to ensure corrective action as well as positive reinforcement where needed.