Iain Sallis12 Dec 2016
When the word ‘principal’ comes to mind, one would imagine a tall, stone-faced teacher with thick-rimmed reading glasses, ready to make your life miserable for being late for class. Thankfully, the principal of Tenby Schools Penang isn’t quite the same.
Iain Sallis, more commonly known as Mr. Iain, has been in the education industry for 19 years and was brought up in the seaside town of Brighton, England. He graduated from Greenwich University, London with a teaching degree in Sciences and Physical Education. Later, he also graduated from Brighton University with a Masters in 2008, followed by the National Professional Qualification for Headship in 2009.
Besides his impressive list of qualifications, the principal also dabbles in training and writing professionally. “I have been affiliated with both Brighton and Sussex Universities in an advisory capacity, and also currently train leaders and write materials for the Institute of Education, London for the NPQH and NPQSL programmes.”
Pursuing a career in the education field came naturally to Mr. Iain as he had an interest in learning from an early age. He was big on learning new skills as a child and loved attending school. Coupled with his thirst for knowledge, Mr. Iain also had a natural affinity for leadership from a very young age, which was demonstrated when he became the manager of his school’s U12’s Hockey team at the tender age of 15. On top of that, he was also running his own tennis coaching business!
Tenby Schools Penang is unique for housing two schools within the campus, with students ranging from ages three to 18 years, and offering both International and National Private Curriculums within the same campus. The International School offers the UK National Curriculum with a focus on the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), Cambridge IGCSE and AS and A Levels, which offer over 20 different subjects.
Their Sekolah Sri Tenby, on the other hand, offers the Malaysian Ministry of Education-approved “Dual Language Programme”, which is a curriculum taught in a combination of both English and Bahasa Malaysia. Malaysian curriculum students also have the opportunity to enrol for IGCSE and A-Levels if they wish to.
Having just recently moved to Penang, Mr. Iain is tasked with overseeing four Heads of School at both the primary and secondary levels. He is also required to help the campus develop and ensure that the campus as a whole has a clear direction, even while it is observing two curriculums.
When asked about some of the key fundamentals he’d like the teachers here to follow, Mr. Iain brings up the principle of the ‘4S’ as a building block of the schools – self-improving, self-reflecting, student-focused and sustainability. Failures are expected and reflected upon to ensure improvements, and making learning sustainable to improve a student’s outcome.
“Schools can always improve and develop no matter what stage in their development. The main perk of learning centres is you get to watch people grow. Here at Tenby, I get to share and celebrate the fantastic achievements of our students.”
“This year we achieved our best-ever results in IGCSE and A-Levels and this was a proud moment to see the teachers, parents and students working towards some outstanding results. Sekolah Sri Tenby’s results are equally impressive with us gaining second in Penang state for our UPSR results last year,” he says.
Mr. Iain is undeniably proud of the great results achieved by his students, but he is also proud of the well-rounded education that they are getting, including finding success in the arts. “In October, we sold over 600 seats for our school production Rock of all Ages. This really did make the hairs stand up on my neck.”
However, Mr. Iain doesn’t take his job too seriously, keeping in mind that he works with young, trendy students. He is most known for taking selfies to capture Kodak-worthy moments around school, some of which can be found on the school’s Facebook page - so much so that these photos have been dubbed as the famous ‘Sallis Selfie’. “On one occasion this year, I was stopped by a parent in the shopping mall who requested a ‘Sallis Selfie’. I was holding my shopping bags at the time… it seems to be catching on!” he says.
Together with Principal Iain, Tenby Schools Penang strives to be known as a passionate, progressive, integrated, reflective and happy community. “Sometimes education can become so complex that schools become self-absorbed. At Tenby, we aim to provide a holistic, rounded education that creates happy, thoughtful and inquisitive human beings, ready to add value in the future world. I say in the prospectus, a sign of a human being’s achievement is not what they have done when they are 18, but what they have accomplished at 80.”