In this Meet & Greet, we speak to Alec Jiggins who helms the brand new EtonHouse International School at Orchard, a first of its kind boutique campus offering an education pathway from primary through to secondary and high school.
Introducing Alec Jiggins
Alec is an experienced educator and administrator from England. He has 6 years of experience in an international leadership position and 11 years in a classroom environment, successfully leading schools through IGCSE and IB candidacy and accreditation. His successes are down to his methodical approach to problem solving, skills he gained through his army training. Teamed with an acute business acumen developed while working as a publisher in the commercial sector, Alec also possesses a holistic pedagogical approach.
An IB Consultant and Council of International Schools (CIS) team member and workshop leader, Alec embraces the initiative in his school where every child is encouraged to maximise their potential whether it is academically, culturally or through sporting achievements.
Learn more about Alec in our exclusive interview with him:
1. Full name/ Nickname?
Alec Jiggins. I have a middle name, which was only ever used by my parents when I was naughty (and that was not very often). I have no nicknames as such, Jiggs perhaps.
2. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in South East England, in the county of Essex. I grew up in the countryside, an idyllic upbringing close to nature. I spent most of my childhood playing outdoors, riding my bike for miles at a time, riding horses, walking with my dogs, and all of these experiences led to my passion for outdoor education.
3. What inspired you to become a educator?
In many ways, I became a teacher by accident although I had worked with students in voluntary roles for many years. We are the sum of our experiences and I was fortunate to have many great teachers at school, and what made them stand out went far beyond their subject knowledge. It was their genuine interest in improving the lives of their students through education. That is my vision too “Students do not care what you know, until they know that you care”.
As a teacher and leader, I feel that I can make an impact on the students in my care. I try to get to know my students as people, to listen to them, and to work with them so that they can reach their potential. I fully believe in holistic education, and after 14 years of working with the International Baccalaureate Diploma, I am convinced it is the best pre-University education on offer today.
4. Tell us something about your background and experience as an educator?
I started working as a volunteer with students participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I did the programme myself as a teenager, and it helped me develop in so many ways. I wanted to support others in that growth.
I studied education at Manchester Metropolitan University and did my teaching practice in schools in deprived areas. I was humbled by how hard the staff worked to improve outcomes for the children and those colleagues taught me lifelong lessons. I then chose to work in similar schools in the UK before moving into internationals schools. I have taught in Colombia, Chile, Montenegro, and Ecuador.
5. Where were you based before Singapore?
Ecuador was home for the last three years. It is a beautiful country with warm, friendly people. I was privileged to lead a great community of teachers, parents and students.
I also got to witness humpback whales in the wild, journey deep into the Amazon jungle, and visit the Galapagos Islands. As a school leader I had to manage contingency planning for volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, as well as the regular fire drills.
6. Are you looking forward to living in Singapore and why?
Coming to Singapore is the realisation of a dream for our family. Singapore is recognised as having some of the best innovations in education in the world, as well as being an amazing place to live. I feel honoured to be joining EtonHouse, which is respected for the quality of education it provides. As a family, we are really looking forward to exploring the region, understanding the culture, and enjoying the food.
7. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy a range of sports like cycling, running, and swimming. I am also something of a whizz in the kitchen and like to learn new styles of cooking. I read a lot and really enjoy writing. I have the ambition of writing a novel (or three) in the future.
8. What part of your job as a Principal do you enjoy most?
The collaboration with students, parents and colleagues. To be a truly “Stand Out” school, it takes everyone working together and leading that is great fun and hugely rewarding.
9. What is your most memorable moment in your years of teaching?
I feel privileged to make memorable moments every day, each member of the community has the power to teach me something new. For me, education is about learning from one another.
I led a large group of students and staff on a trip to Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City) in Colombia, quite literally hidden deep in the jungle. It was a wonderful journey of discovery (and hundreds of mosquitoes). Cuidad Perdida is a place of great natural energy, and its effects reduced 85 teenagers to an awed silence for hours.
10. What is the most critical component of education in the 21st century?
Focusing on values and people – collaboration, communication, cooperation, commitment, resilience, perseverance, honesty, tolerance, responsibility and trust. We all have a responsibility to one another and to our planet .
Meet Alec at the EtonHouse Orchard open house where he will talk about how the school can benefit your child.