Leading a school means being a teacher, I feel, not merely an administrator and Public Relations face. One needs to interact directly with the students to get the feel of the school from their perspective and to allow fellow teachers to regard one as a capable colleague, not only as The Boss. Angela Williams is one of the founders of Bloomfield Hall Schools – currently she is functional as the Principal at Bloomfield Gulberg..
- Please introduce yourself, tell us about your background in education and what interested you in applying for this job?
Ans. I originally came from London to Lahore in 1983 with my husband, Nadeem Qasir, author of ‘Pakistan: the Political Economy since 1947’. I was Principal and English teacher at our original Jail Rd branch on the canal from 1984. In 1990 we founded Bloomfield Hall in Multan with 23 students; it now has over 4000, I am delighted to say!
My degree is from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and I took my PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) from Sheffield University in 1975. I taught in a number of schools in the UK before coming to Pakistan.
Having worked over the years in our school in a number of different capacities – teaching A level English literature, O level language and literature, Class 7 history and English language, Class 4 language, Study Skills at our sister institution UCL, directing school and college plays – I took semi-retirement in London. I very soon found out, however, that I just was not the retirement type! I returned to Lahore to Head our Gulberg branch in 2015 and am thoroughly enjoying the experience.
2. Principal positions require intense time-management. Give instances of how you organize your day to meet the various demands and commitments required as a school principal
Ans. Our lovely receptionist Ms Nidaorganises my appointments for me, fitting them around my teaching timetable and meeting schedules.
I have a once-a-week meeting with all our coordinators together to discuss whole-school matters, and fixed times to meet individual coordinators regarding their particular age-group of children.
3. What is your philosophy of leadership? How would you lead a school-wide initiative expected for an entire district?
Ans. Leading a school means being a teacher, I feel, not merely an administrator and Public Relations face. One needs to interact directly with the students to get the feel of the school from their perspective and to allow fellow teachers to regard one as a capable colleague, not only as The Boss.
One needs to ensure that, for any initiative to go forward successfully, one has one’s team’s enthusiasm and full co-operation; this can only be ensured by having good relations among team members, and an open relationship which allows for disagreement, discussion and consensus.
4. How do you build a positive school culture or climate? Give examples of how you would do that here?
Ans. Positivity in school, I feel, emanates from the Principal’s office and is inculcated within the staff members so that the children can sense the mood of the school as a happy, positive one; it’s essential that teachers come to school happily, looking forward to their day with the children and with their colleagues. Teachers should be monitored and guided in such a way that there is no sense of resentment, embarrassment, nor, God forbid, humiliation.
Keeping an eye on staff relations is also conducive to a happy atmosphere: teachers who come to school to gossip about colleagues or to make catty remarks in the staff room should simply not be there. The children are given plenty of incentive to do well and to behave appropriately; we present certificates and awards for many aspects of children’s development. We have zero tolerance of bullying in Bloomfield Gulberg and children are aware of the behaviour expected of them if they witness it.
5. How do you recruit and maintain quality teachers and staff members?
Ans. Fortunately, we don’t have a high turn-over rate among our staff; most have been with us for a very long time. When we do need someone new, we have a file of applicants to which we turn. Treating staff with respect and friendliness and paying them satisfactorily is the way to keep them.
6. What advice would you give to a new teacher on his or her first year?
Ans. Actors are advised, “Learn your lines and don’t bump into the furniture!” In the same concise manner, one could advise teachers: “Know your subject matter and plan your lesson.”
But additionally, of course, I would advise anyone wishing to enter the teaching profession not to do so unless they really like children. One’s job as a teacher is a joy if one likes kids and a hell, I would imagine, if one doesn’t.
7. What advice would you give to the parents when you meet them?
Ans. Read with your children! Listen to your children! Talk to your children! And when you’ve done that, read with them, listen to them and talk with them some more. And when you’ve done that, read…..
You get the general idea.