Work-Life Balance At West Spring Primary
It’s common knowledge that Singaporeans are a hardworking bunch. With our city-state having the longest working hours in the world in 2016, no wonder 1 in 2 Singaporean employees find work-life balance here dreadful.
This doesn’t seem to be a problem for teachers from West Spring Primary School though, as their school promotes a healthy work-life balance thanks to its principal, Mrs Jacinta Lim.
A Life After Working Hours
To ensure her teachers are able to strike a well balanced work-life lifestyle, Mrs Lim imposed rules for them to adhere to.
- Teachers are banned from replying to work-related emails and texts before 7.30am and after 5pm on weekdays, as well as over the weekend.
- Teachers get two days in the work week when they’re allowed to leave immediately after class, at about 2pm.
At first, some parents cast aspersions on her methods but Mrs Lim didn’t waver and encouraged her staff to “sing the same tune”, reported The New Paper.
Her initiative was recognized by the Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy in 2014, winning the Work-Life Leadership Award.
On top of that, West Spring was listed in the 15 exemplary employers by Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices last year for their considerable employee welfare that included coaching programmes, cohesion events and guidance in career growth.
Pros & Cons
Mrs Lim’s efforts are admirable and appears to be having the desired results in her school, but could such a guideline be implemented in other institutions?
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of this scheme and whether it’s advisable for other schools to follow suit.
1. Beneficial for students
An energized teacher will conduct lessons in a more purposeful manner, potentially allowing students to grasp concepts quickly.
Engaging lessons are always welcome, and serves to interest students on the topic at hand. This is especially so when dealing with a dry syllabus.
Mrs Lim believes in this too and said “When my staff is well rested, they will be happy teachers. When they are happy, the children will be in good hands. It’s what I tell parents during briefings too.”
2. Jovial working environment
As you may know, happiness rubs off others and having a group of jolly teachers will only serve to liven the mood around the school.
Students and teachers alike will be less likely to drag their listless souls to school on the weekdays.
3. Passion for teaching
A healthy work-life balance will prevent teachers from burning out easily, ensuring their passion for educating remain at high levels.
Perhaps this might prevent teachers from leaving the service as mentioned above.
1.Difficult to supervise
It is almost impossible to clamp down on certain rules. In an attempt to ensure her staff sticks to the rule, Mrs Lim simply nags at them.
Once the teachers are out of the school gate, who’s to say they aren’t going to head home and reply to work-related emails and messages?
2. Might not work for higher education
Allowing teachers 2 days per working week to leave immediately after class ends might be feasible in a primary school, but the same cannot be said in institutions of higher education.
In secondary school and junior colleges, students often stay back after school hours to seek teachers for consultation sessions.
Furthermore, parents of primary school children can always help out with their kid’s queries and school work as the assignments are simple.
But secondary school, polytechnic and junior college students need help from professionals as the concepts they deal with are of a much higher level.
Role Model For Other Institutions?
West Spring Primary’s work-life balance model seems to be going well for them, but it remains to be seen if this rule is a one-size-fits-all approach.
Regardless, teachers should be respected and recognized for immersing themselves in such a noble job where the hours are long and the work is stressful.