There’s a new face walking the halls of St. Joseph’s Institution International school in Singapore. Meet the incoming High School principal, ROISIN PAUL.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Holywood, County Down, Northern Ireland – a little seaside town five miles from Belfast. I’m moving to Singapore from Sheffield, England where I’ve lived for the past 16 years.
You have undergraduate degrees in history and religious studies. Did you always want to go into education?
Yes, I wanted to study history from a very young age and become a teacher. My inspiration came from my elementary teacher, Mr McMahon, who embodied everything a great teacher should be. It was when I moved to London that I became interested in religious studies because of the multicultural and multi-religious dimension of the city – I was fascinated that so many different people could live together in one place, seemingly very peacefully, unlike Northern Ireland. It made me want to teach other young people about what I’d learnt, so I could help them understand the global society we live in. I studied at Brunel University, West London College.
How long have you been teaching?
For 27 years. During this time, I’ve also trained as an Ofsted School Inspector, been a Lead Teaching and Learning Consultant for Ireland’s Education Authority, and undertaken my Headship and Executive Headship qualifications. I was the Headteacher at Sheffield’s Silverdale School, whose results at GCSE are in the top five percent of non-selective schools nationally, with A levels in the top one percent. Then I helped found Chorus Education Trust, which comprises three high schools across Sheffield and Derbyshire, as well as a Teaching School that trains over 100 new teachers every year. I was the Executive Headteacher there.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
I’m particularly proud of establishing a new school in Northern Ireland, which brought together Roman Catholic and Protestant students marking a significant milestone in the development of integrated education in Northern Ireland. In recognition of the success of this, I was acknowledged by Her Majesty the Queen. Why did the role at SJII convince you to make such a big move? Intercultural learning and the Lasallian ethos resonate powerfully with me. I love that the school’s multi-faith and intercultural community is core to its global values. It’s an exceptional school, with fantastic students and staff and brilliant facilities. It ticks every box, and I know that I can add value with my experience from the English state system. I’m delighted that my two daughters will also be joining SJII as students; I couldn’t want a better education for them.
What are three things you bring to every school where you work?
A passion for learning, integrity, and a resilient, can-do attitude. We are all lifelong learners, and learning is what keeps us excited and engaged in life. I encourage an open and transparent system of decision-making at all levels so that everyone feels they’ve had a chance to contribute their views and understand why decisions have been made. I hope that I’m a role model to other women so that they can be future leaders, too.
Quick fact about Roisin:
• First job: Working in a sweet shop
• Book she never tires of reading: A Thousand Splendid Suns
• Favourite sports team: Any Irish international team – netball, soccer, rugby
• Favourite travel spots: Cambodia, Vietnam, Palestine/Israel, Washington DC, Italy and Ireland!
Read more about living in Singapore: