Shawn Hutchinson , Principal of ACG School Jakarta – Family Values Key to Quality Education

Story By
Utami Nindhita

ACG School Jakarta recently welcomed their new Principal, Mr Shawn Hutchinson. With his passion for educating children and a strong leadership background in schools all over the world , he brings a strong vision for the future of the school.

 I : Please share more about ACG. You offer the International Baccalaureate Program and Cambridge qualifications in Indonesia, how is ACG different to other international schools?

 S : ACG Education is the largest provider of private education in New Zealand. We own and operate seven high-achieving schools: five in New Zealand, one in Vietnam and the other here in Jakarta. Our three schools in Auckland are among the top-ranked independent schools in New Zealand.

ACG was founded in 1995 by two professional educators, Sir John Graham KNZM, CBE, the famous New Zealand rugby player, and Dawn Jones CNZM. Their goal was to create a private school not affiliated with any religious organisation that was focused on academic excellence while providing students with the personalised care and support they need to achieve their best. Our schools still stand by those values today.

In Jakarta, we are proud to be an international school that provides a safe, caring and supportive environment where family values of respect, responsibility, and compassion are at the heart of everything that we do.

Our students get the best of both worlds – internationally recognised programmes and qualifications in small, personalised classrooms where our expert teachers work with each child to support them, guide them and inspire them.

I : What are the biggest challenges in education?

S : The greatest challenge we face in education is to support children to become self-motivated, independent, self-regulated, courageous, resilient lifelong learners.

I : Looking at the list of ACG activities, providing the students with various after school programmes, how do you see those activities impacting on a student’s future?

S : At ACG School Jakarta, we truly believe that the old adage of 'a healthy body equals a healthy mind' and it is absolutely true.

Because young people nowadays spend a lot of their time online, many are less active than children were in the past. So, sport at school is more crucial than ever in the digital age.

PE is compulsory here up to the end of Year 11. During this time students spend up to 80 minutes each week learning the fundamentals of a whole range of sports. They’re strongly encouraged to play a sport, get involved in something they are passionate about and to continue once they leave school.

We aim to provide our students with the five key elements of a holistic education – academics; student well-being; sport, activities and the arts; experiential education outside of the classroom; and leadership and service. Participation in any extracurricular activity can improve motivation, concentration, confidence and teamwork.

I : How do you see yourself as an individual and as an expert in education?

S : I’m originally from Adelaide and, having grown up in the river land of South Australia, I’m a country lad at heart. I’ve been in leadership positions for 18 years now in schools in Tokyo, Vietnam, Beijing and Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island. I’ve been with ACG Education for eight years before Jakarta.

On one hand being a principal is about being a pedagogical leader, the person who is driving innovation and quality of education and making sure the faculty is behind your vision. On the other hand, it’s about the service side of the job, understanding what our students and their families want and need. It’s finding that balance that is critical in creating a positive culture at the school.

Seeing the school through a father’s eyes – my two daughters attend ACG School Jakarta – being directly involved and listening helps me to balance students’ and parents’ needs with those of the school administration and the faculty.

I : How do your life values influence you in managing the school?

S : My educational philosophy is a combination of my philosophical beliefs, and educational and life experiences. Along with my experience working in government, independent and international school settings have prepared me well to be an educational leader who empowers and prepares compassionate and resilient learners for life.

Schools need to be places where every person is respected as an individual, where each person can learn in a safe and supportive environment that encourages risk taking, and where students feel empowered. Schools, more than any other place in society should be places where differences are not merely tolerated, but celebrated.

As a pedagogical leader, I believe that it is my responsibility to know and model what is expected of staff. My expectations are that a community of learners will be created where all staff work collaboratively, learn from one another, and where professional development is ingrained in the fabric of the school. I need to be an active listener, fair, caring and a knowledgeable educator who engages and inspires my faculty.

An educational partnership between parents and the school should exist in order for students to succeed. Each school has a unique culture and it is important that I am sensitive to and appreciative of the culture of the school as I work with students, parents, faculty and non-teaching staff. My strong work ethic has allowed me to develop the leadership skills to build a trusting and caring learning community at ACG School Jakarta.

I : Where do you see ACG in the next 5 years? What are ACG’s future development plans?

S : Over the next five years at ACG School Jakarta; to maintain high academic standards; to build a reputation as an outstanding provider of international education; to recruit, develop and retain inspiring teachers; to strengthen the wider ACG School Jakarta community; and to enhance the name of the school and raise its standing on a local level.