Talking Heads: Interview With James Sweeney From OWIS Singapore

Head Of School, OWIS Nanyang & Suntec

James Sweeney OWIS Singapore

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 living in the city.

In this edition, we say hello to James Sweeney, Head Of School, OWIS Nanyang & Suntec at One World International School (OWIS).


    1. Do you have a nickname? While I don't typically have a nickname, my family has affectionately called me 'Jimbo' since I was young. I suppose that's the closest thing to a nickname I have.

    Where were you born and where did you grow up? I take pride in being a 'Brummie', having been born and raised in Birmingham, UK.

    Where do you live in the city and why do you love it there? Currently, I reside in Bukit Batok as I look for a more permanent place. I'm only starting to explore the area, but my experiences have been positive so far. The excellent food and the efficient transport facilitating city exploration have been brilliant.

    What's in your lunchbox? I genuinely enjoy the school lunch at OWIS. It's exceptional. Outside of that, I often find myself gravitating towards a hummus and pita bread combo.


    1. What are your 3 favorite children's books? We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, The BFG by Roald Dahl, and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.

    2. What or who inspired you to become a headmaster? Numerous moments and individuals have inspired me on my journey to becoming an educator. If I had to single out one, it would be my history teacher from secondary school, Jim Doherty. His unique ability to connect with all students, underpinned by his humor, made him an outstanding figure. His engaging lessons and exceptional communication skills truly inspired everyone in the classroom.

    3. Describe your school in 5 words or less: Aspirational, welcoming, kind-hearted, and caring.

    4. What's your favorite thing on your desk and why? A music box crafted by students from my previous school holds a special place on my desk. The students initiated a charity to aid hard-of-hearing migrant children in Beijing, inspiring me with their benevolence. This music box serves as a cherished memento from that experience.


  • Primary Running OWIS Singapore


    1. What is the best way for parents to be involved in their children’s education? Parents should be present for their child, showing interest in their school life by asking questions and providing support when required. As a child progresses through school, they should be given increasing autonomy, but parental guidance, inquiry, and support should always be readily available when needed.

    2. Any tips for parents when applying for schools? Singapore has a wealth of educational choices, which can be overwhelming for parents. It's crucial to remember that just because a school is good doesn't necessarily mean it's the right fit for your child. Parents should consider the school's values and practices and not be distracted by facilities alone. The essence of a school lies in its values and the community's ethos. Parents should engage with various school members to ensure the institution's values align with theirs and that these values inform decision-making at every level.

    3. What's the best advice a teacher or principal ever gave you? A piece of wisdom from a former colleague when I assumed my first headship has remained with me: "Remember, not everyone is you." It sounds simple, yet it's fundamental in guiding my approach to leadership. Just because I can or cannot do something doesn't mean the same holds true for others. We must strive to understand and consider all perspectives before deciding on a course of action.

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