ACG Jakarta's New Prin­ci­pal: Shawn Hutchin­son


Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS -

ACG JAKARTA’s new prin­ci­pal Shawn Hutchin­son is a ca­reer ed­u­ca­tor with 23 years of ex­pe­ri­ence. Prior to his ap­point­ment in Jakarta he held se­nior po­si­tions in schools in Aus­tralia, Ja­pan, New Zealand, China and Viet­nam, and his mis­sion as he set­tles into his lat­est post is to main­tain the ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion of ACG Jakarta while im­prov­ing and up­dat­ing the school’s ser­vices wher­ever pos­si­ble. In­done­sia Ex­pat sat down with him just af­ter his ar­rival in July to talk about his goals, the school and the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion in gen­eral.

Wel­come to Jakarta, Shawn. Please tell us some­thing about your­self and where you come from.

I’m orig­i­nally from Ade­laide and I’m a coun­try lad at heart hav­ing grown up in the river­land of south Aus­tralia. I spent my early ca­reer teach­ing English and spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion in state and pri­vate schools in South Aus­tralia and moved fairly quickly into lead­er­ship roles in var­i­ous de­part­ments. I’ve been in lead­er­ship po­si­tions for 18 years now and I’ve been with ACG Ed­u­ca­tion for eight years. On an in­ter­na­tional level I spent time in Tokyo as prin­ci­pal of an in­ter­na­tional school there and then I joined ACG in Viet­nam as the found­ing head of the sec­ondary school. Af­ter Viet­nam I went to Bei­jing where I was Sec­ondary Prin­ci­pal of an IB world school, and af­ter that I was ap­pointed prin­ci­pal of a new ACG school in Tau­ranga on New Zealand’s north is­land. Af­ter that the op­por­tu­nity to come to Jakarta came up and I was very pleased to ac­cept the chal­lenge and get back to Asia.

What are your plans for the ACG Jakarta cam­pus?

First of all I want to grow and de­velop the school and its rep­u­ta­tion, and make sure that we align well with ACG Ed­u­ca­tion val­ues. We are very much part of an or­gan­i­sa­tion that be­lieves whole­heart­edly in ex­cel­lence in ed­u­ca­tion, qual­ity of ser­vice and pro­vid­ing a holis­tic ed­u­ca­tion for young peo­ple.

Tell us some­thing about ACG Ed­u­ca­tion.

ACG Ed­u­ca­tion is the largest provider of pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion in New Zealand. We own and op­er­ate seven schools, five in New Zealand and two in Asia, one in Viet­nam and the other here in Jakarta. Our three schools in Auck­land are the top three ranked in­de­pen­dent schools in New Zealand. We also own and op­er­ate pre- schools and of­fer vo­ca­tional train­ing in hospi­tal­ity, tourism and busi­ness. In ad­di­tion, we de­liver univer­sity foun­da­tion pro­grams for the Univer­sity of Auck­land, Auck­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and Vic­to­ria Univer­sity in Wellington. The com­pany was founded in 1995 by two pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tors, Sir John Gra­ham KNZM, CBE, the fa­mous New Zealand rugby player and pre­vi­ous Head of Auck­land Gram­mar School, and Dawn Jones CNZM. Their goal was to cre­ate a pri­vate school not af­fil­i­ated with any re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tion that was fo­cused on aca­demic ex­cel­lence while pro­vid­ing stu­dents with the per­son­alised care and sup­port they need to achieve their best.

Why do you think ACG ap­pointed you as prin­ci­pal of the Jakarta cam­pus?

I think some peo­ple see me as some­one who en­joys tak­ing on chal­lenges. I think ACG Jakarta has tremen­dous po­ten­tial and it has done some great things in its his­tory in a very chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment. I’m re­ally ex­cited about be­ing here with my fam­ily and I’m re­ally keen to con­tinue grow­ing and de­vel­op­ing the school, not just in terms of num­bers but also in terms of the qual­ity of the ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams we of­fer and un­der­stand­ing the needs of the chil­dren and their fam­i­lies.

Are your wife and chil­dren as happy to be here as you are?

My wife is from Ja­pan and my two daugh­ters have lived most of their lives overseas at­tend­ing in­ter­na­tional schools so we are all used to the ex­pat life. My older daugh­ter is 15 and is very much in­ter­ested in the In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate pro­gram here at ACG and she’s very ex­cited to be part of that for the next cou­ple of years. My younger daugh­ter likes to ex­pe­ri­ence new things and both of them are very open minded so liv­ing here and study­ing at ACG will suit them well. They are very much in­ter­na­tional kids with global mind sets so they should adapt very quickly. My wife and I came to Jakarta in Fe­bru­ary to have a look around so she’s well pre­pared for the chal­lenges of liv­ing in Jakarta. Ob­vi­ously the traf­fic is not one of the city’s best fea­tures but I’m sure we’ll learn to live with it. My wife is a free­lance writer and event man­ager so hope­fully she’ll pick up some work here as well, but we’ve only been here four days so far so the fo­cus is on get­ting the apartment or­gan­ised and mak­ing sure the kids are happy.

Do you think be­ing an ex­pat dad your­self and hav­ing your chil­dren at your school gives you an ad­van­tage as school prin­ci­pal?

On one hand be­ing a prin­ci­pal is about be­ing that ped­a­gog­i­cal leader, that per­son who is driv­ing in­no­va­tion and qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion and mak­ing sure that the fac­ulty is be­hind your vi­sion, and on the other hand its about the ser­vice side of the job, un­der­stand­ing what our stu­dents and their fam­i­lies want and need. I think find­ing that bal­ance is crit­i­cal in cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive cul­ture at the school. So yes, see­ing the school through a fa­ther’s eyes and lis­ten­ing to the opin­ions of my fam­ily helps me to bal­ance what stu­dents and par­ents need with the needs of the school ad­min­is­tra­tion and the fac­ulty.

How is ACG adapt­ing its of­fer­ing to the needs of mod­ern stu­dents?

ACG places great em­pha­sis on in­no­va­tion. We need our teach­ers to be pas­sion­ate and in­no­va­tive and we need them to adapt and be flex­i­ble, but most im­por­tant of all we need them to un­der­stand the child – not the class. We need them to un­der­stand each in­di­vid­ual child and how each child best learns in the class­room. We ac­tively seek and en­cour­age teach­ers who can strike that nice bal­ance be­tween the art of teach­ing and the sci­ence of teach­ing. We look for teach­ers who first and fore­most build re­la­tion­ships with stu­dents, un­der­stand the cur­ricu­lum, un­der­stand the qual­i­fi­ca­tion that the stu­dents are work­ing to­wards and then find ways that they can best sup­port them in that jour­ney.

What is the make- up of the ACG fac­ulty here in Jakarta?

We ac­tu­ally have a very di­verse teacher pop­u­la­tion here. We have teach­ers from the UK, Ire­land, Canada, Aus­tralia, New Zealand and South Africa and teach­ers’ as­sis­tants are suit­ably qual­i­fied In­done­sians. We look af­ter our teach­ers very well at ACG and that’s cru­cial to re­tain­ing the best tal­ent in this ed­u­ca­tion land­scape.

What are your thoughts on the home­work de­bate?

I think if a child needs a cou­ple of ex­tra hours of prac­tice in any sub­ject then there is no harm in them do­ing it at home. A cou­ple of hours read­ing a book to en­hance lan­guage skills is al­ways a good idea, but at the same time it’s im­por­tant to get chil­dren out into the fresh air as of­ten as pos­si­ble and get them in­volved in sports and other ac­tiv­i­ties. I also ad­vise par­ents to have their chil­dren do home­work in the com­mon ar­eas of the house like the kitchen ta­ble. By do­ing this they spend more time with the fam­ily and they feel less iso­lated as they study.

How do you feel about so­cial me­dia and its role in the lives of young peo­ple?

I think so­cial me­dia can be re­ally harm­ful for young peo­ple if it is not man­aged prop­erly. We spent the last four years at ACG New Zealand ed­u­cat­ing stu­dents about on­line safety, proper so­cial me­dia us­age and how much screen time they should have. We also ed­u­cate par­ents and teach­ers be­cause whether we like it or not, so­cial me­dia is a fac­tor and most stu­dents will ar­rive at school with some kind of screen. We al­low stu­dents to keep their de­vices with them, but we do not al­low them to use them dur­ing lessons. I am very pas­sion­ate about the use of tech­nol­ogy in the class­room, but I be­lieve it needs to be care­fully di­rected in the early years. When the stu­dents get older they should have a bet­ter idea of when and how to prop­erly use tech­nol­ogy as part of their study.

What is ACG’s pol­icy on bul­ly­ing?

We have a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy on bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment. I feel very strongly about this be­cause I be­lieve as a par­ent you need to know that your child can go to school and feel safe. Chil­dren should be able to be them­selves at school and feel com­fort­able in their own skins, know­ing that there is a com­mu­nity there that sup­ports them and cares for them.

What would you say to par­ents to make them choose ACG over other schools in Jakarta?

I would tell them that ACG School Jakarta is a safe place, it’s a car­ing place, it’s a place where your child will be lis­tened to, and it’s a place where par­ents will be wel­comed as part of the com­mu­nity. I wel­come in­put from par­ents and I like to be in di­rect con­tact with them. We have lots of cof­fee morn­ings, lots of in­for­ma­tion ses­sions and lots of events and ac­tiv­i­ties in­volv­ing par­ents all de­signed to make ev­ery­one feel they are a part of the ACG fam­ily.

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