We continue the Little Steps Talking Heads series, where parents can meet, greet, and get tips from Singapore’s Heads of Schools! Get personal with these fabulous personalities and find out what makes them tick, their advice for parents navigating the schooling scene, and their favorite things about life in the city.
In this edition, we say hello to Dr. Neil Hopkin, Headmaster of Dover Court International School!
1. Do you have a nickname? Not that anyone says to my face!
2. Where were you born and where did you grow up? I was born and grew up near Nottingham in England, not far from Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood fame.
3. Where do you live in the city and why do you love it there? I live near Buona Vista, which is great for travelling around Singapore and is also close to Dover Court International School.
4. What’s in your lunchbox? I don’t tend to eat lunch as that is when most staff will take the opportunity to have a brief meeting with me. Sometimes I will have a cup of vegetable soup (sweetcorn is my favourite).
1. What or who inspired you to become a headmaster? My parents were both teachers and I learnt a love of learning from them, especially my father, who was a physicist and also my form tutor. I think it was in my genes to become a teacher. Becoming a principal was then simply a growing awareness that I could contribute something to schools beyond just classroom skills. Early in my career I was surrounded by staff that encouraged me and guided me in the journey towards headship.
2. Describe your school in 5 words or less! Fostering ambition, empowering independent learners.
1. What’s your favourite thing on your desk and why? A picture of my wife and son. I am lucky to have them both in my life.
2. What are your 3 favourite children’s books? The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl: such wonderfully imaginative storytelling. Winnie the Pooh: Evokes fond childhood memories of that ‘silly bear’. Mr Gum series by Andy Stanton: the modern version of Roald Dahl?
1. What is the best way for parents to be involved in their children’s education? It depends on the age of the child to some extent, of course. In general terms though, communication is key. Be interested in their interests, don’t ask what they did at school today, ask what they learned at school today. Support the breadth of their learning, by giving them a diverse range of experiences in sport, music, the arts, science and technology. Limit their ‘screen time’ to no more than two hours a day and never let them surf the web unsupervised. Read: with them, to them, alongside them. Laugh, enjoy life together and help to support their development of a sense of perspective. Make mistakes and role model resilience in learning from them and overcoming them. Be positive, even when things go wrong. Forgive, constantly.
2. Any tips for parents when applying for schools? The Principal is key to school development. Make sure that you can see their intent: do they have your child’s whole development at heart? Do they know how to unlock the talent your child has? Do they truly understand how to inspire great learning in their staff, their students and their learning community? If you find someone that can do this, then you have found the school for your child.
3. What’s the best advice a teacher or headmistress ever gave you? When you focus on problems you will have more problems. When you focus on possibilities you will have more opportunities.
Dover Court International School
301 Dover Road, Singapore
+65 6775 7664