Himmat Singh Dhillon, Headmaster at The Lawrence School Sanawar

Himmat Singh Dhillon

Interview with Himmat Singh Dhillon, Headmaster at The Lawrence School Sanawar

Mr. Himmat Singh Dhillon is Head Master at The Lawrence School Sanawar, formerly Principal of GEMS Education Dubai, GMA Gurgaon, and Principal/CEO of GEMS Education, Fujairah. Principal Gandhi School Jakarta. Head of English & Housemaster The Doon School Dehradun.

Tell us a little about yourself

Prior to leading The Lawrence School, Sanawar, Mr. Himmat Dhillon was with GEMS Education, UAE. By sheer dint of hard work, integrity, and dedicated service, he proved himself and made his mark as a Head of School/Principal CEO in the UAE.

Mr. Himmat Dhillon was previously Principal & CEO of GEMS Our Own English High School, Fujairah, since 2014. Prior to this, he was Principal of The Gandhi School, Jakarta, Indonesia from 2008 to 2013.

Mr. Dhillon, an alumnus of The Lawrence School, Sanawar was formerly Head of the Department of English at The Doon School, Dehradun. He is the son of a retired Army Officer Lt. Col. D.S. Dhillon and Dr. Asha Dhillon who is an educationist. His wife Mrs. Raman J. Dhillon is also an educationist. They have two daughters and two dogs.

Can you share an overview of your background and experience in the field of education?

  • Mar 2020 – Till date:    Headmaster, The Lawrence School, Sanawar.
  • June 2019 – Mar 2020: Executive Principal, GEMS Modern Academy, Gurgaon.
  • May 2019 – Mar 2020: Principal Consultant at the Corporate Office of GEMS EDUCATION, GEMS EDUCATION, Dubai.
  • June 2014 – May 2019: Principal and Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Our Own English High School, Fujairah.

As the Headmaster, what would be your vision and goals for The Lawrence School Sanawar? How would you ensure the school’s continued growth and success?

My personal as well as professional leadership vision is in complete synchronization with the Vision of The Lawrence School, Sanawar.

The Vision of The Lawrence School, Sanawar is:

To establish ‘The Lawrence School, Sanawar as the best coeducational residential School in the nation!

The Path:

To produce a well-rounded, self-confident, positive young person with

the following attributes:

  • An inquiring and fearless mind.
  • Respectful of others’ viewpoints.
  • Believes in the values of social justice and equality.
  • Leadership skills across the spectrum — social, political, commercial,
  • and cultural.
  • Ability to stand for others and self.

In order to make this a reality, I have undertaken the following:

Leadership and Management – Ensuring that The Lawrence School, Sanawar is led by people who value others, their voice, and their need for choice; with particular emphasis on their strategies for raising standards and making Sanawar a school that is able to deliver an education that will equip our students to navigate the world of the future.

We encourage staff at all levels to take up leadership roles and shoulder responsibilities so that even as they grow as administrators and curricular leads they strengthen the fabric of the school.

Management, including pastoral care of pupils/staff, communication, financial planning, controls, and administration will be reviewed and fine-tuned.

Concurrently we have opened up all domains wherestudent-ledd initiatives can be carried out safelytoo give the students an edge in their lives after passing out.

It is this very facet that will differentiate between a product of the average Indian Public School vis a vis a Sanawarian.

Students’ Achievement – This is boosted by ensuring that every student makes progress. This over time will promote higher student attainment across the school.

This is made possible through a process that includes an Ipsative Assessment. Improvement in the levels of attainment and the rate of pupils’ progress over time is tracked and monitored.

It has been communicated to all stakeholders that our expectation is that all students attain a minimum level of C1 and not just be satisfied with attaining passing marks.

This is gradually put into practice with academic support and extra help is given to those who are unable to make the grade. It is to be expected that the student attainment progresses to B1 over a period of five years.

Students’ Personal and Social Development, and Their Innovation Skills – This is the real reason that a Sanawarian education instills value and confidence into the students.

Every student is expected to pursue a hobby, play a seasonal sport,and take part in Public Speaking and outward-bound activities. 21st Century Skills, Leadership Skills, and Life Skills are inculcated.

The intention is that Sanawar emerges as a crucible for student leadership. There remains an emphasis on Duty, Morality, Values, Inclination towards Social Work, Community Service, Inculcating a desire to remain Healthy always by adhering to nutritious and natural food, healthy living, good habits, making informed, healthy and correct choices, mentoring and helping other students in studies and personal development by collective study and sporting programs are some of the important features.

Students’ voice is encouraged and their creativity is given ample opportunity through the Arts, Publications, Theatre, Public Speaking, and Innovative activities.

Teaching and Assessment— A Teacher Enrichment Centre has been established. There are regular and relevant Continuous Profession Learning sessions for staff at all levels so that the required skill sets and competencies can be honed.

The planning and organization of lessons; The challenge and pace of teaching; The quality and range of opportunities for learning, including the development of policies, schemes of work, Annual Plans of Work, Pedagogical Planning, curricular planning, and assessment, recording, and reporting; Relevant resources, workshops, and Continuous Professional Learning and Development sessions are organized and resources deployed to address the above as per the needs of our Community of Learners.

We proactively train educators to recognize that student success is a complex process and equip them to be able to measure it by using the correct tools.

As an ideal school, Sanawar strives to foster an environment that works hard to develop authentic measures for assessing student learning.

An important strategy underlying this is attracting and retaining teachers who are knowledgeable, care about student learning as well as learners’ well-being, and adapt their instruction to meet the needs of their learners.

Curriculum – While all Learning Outcomes will be covered, this iscenteredr around the core of The Sanawar Curriculum.

This includes components like The Campus as A Curriculum, The Dodransbicentennial as a Curriculum, and The Round Square Ideals as a Curriculum.

We are most sanguine that here is a Curriculum that extends beyond books and borders and is anchored in international-mindedness for the benefit of the students.

Students are regularly sent out on Educational, Cultural, Historical, and Sociological exchanges and tours in addition to the Hikes and Camps.

The Senior Management Team firmly believes that it is imperative to create a school climate and an environment that is visionary, forward-looking, and progressive and works hard to make the curriculum relevant to the lives of students.

Coding, Robotics, AI, Innovation, and STREAM are offered to all students. Every student is expected to know and be interested in our Nation as well as be interested and eager to learn about and appreciate the different nations with their disparate cultures and customs.

Our students are global citizens who are knowledgeable about the world they live in. The focus is very much on individual dispositions whether it is academic/athletic/extracurricular/ activities or specific subjects that are particularly interesting to the child.

The Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of Students – We cannot overemphasize this area. It is expected that the pupils’ are role models and display exemplary behavior, attitudes and work habits.

The school environment, as well as the curricular and extra-curricular offerings are designed in a way that ensures it is a safe learning space for students.

The school conducts group activities in moderation and in small, carefully managed groups and insists on orderly boarding houses, classrooms and hallways.

As a community we value kindness, caring, empathy, good citizenship and self-regulation. Sanawar actively advocates and enforces an anti-bullying program.

The Lawrence School Sanawar has a rich history and tradition. How would you uphold and promote the school’s heritage while also fostering innovation and progress?

  • It is correct to say that The Lawrence School Sanawar has a 176 years of legacy which is a very rich history and tradition.
  • We have taken every step to uphold and promote the school’s heritage while also fostering innovation and progress The Facilitated Virtual Learning Programme is a solid testimony to the forward thinking that enabled Sanawar to roll out a virtual education programme so that the academic and extra-curricular interests of our Community of Learners would be safeguarded. Other examples include:
  • Innovation and Robotics Lab.
  • A.I. Lab.
  • Usage of I pads for learning.
  • Coding. Girls Who Code.
  • Teachers Enrichment Centre.
  • Student welfare and development are paramount in an educational institution. How would you ensure that The Lawrence School Sanawar provides a nurturing and inclusive environment that supports the holistic growth of students?
  • In our school we have the following systems in place to look after the Holistic growth of students:-
  • House Staff ( for Pastoral Care) :- Every child is attached to a Residential House and is being looked after by a Housemaster, Matron and a Tutor who looks after the needs of every child staying under their care right from morning till night. 
  • They cater to the students’ needs in academics, participation in games, hobbies and in other school curricular activities like House Shows, Debates, and Quizzes as well as monitor their health, emotions, well-being, etc.
  • The School has a well-defined Child Protection Policy which is mandatory for every member of the school associated with the children to read, understand and adhere to.  Every student studying in the school goes through the contents of it and is encouraged to respect the guidelines given in it.
  • Student Council Meetings: – This is a body in the School where student representatives from all classes put up their recommendations to the Senior Management Team of the School which is chaired by the Head of the School, the Headmaster. This body includes as members the various Heads of the Departments of the School and works unitedly for the betterment and wellness of all in the School.
  • Counseling Cell: – The School has a Counseling Cell for the Juniors (from Class 5th to 8th) and for the Seniors (From Class 9th to 12th) where students are referred as well as go on their own for their well-being, improvement and guidance.
  • Career Guidance: – The School has a tie up with a Career Guidance Organization which provides all possible support in testing students’ aptitudes and guiding our school students to decide the field of their interest and choose careers after making them aware regarding the various career options / courses available in the colleges in the country and abroad and also helps them to prepare for their admissions to institutions of higher education.

How would you encourage and promote academic excellence among students while also emphasizing the importance of character building and extracurricular activities?

The Lawrence School Sanawar prides itself on its strong sense of community and alumni network.

How would you engage with the school’s community, Including parents, alumni, and staff, to foster collaboration and support?

  • For the above we have the following in place:-
  • Annual Prize Giving Ceremony:-Every year the School organizes an Annual Prize Giving Ceremony for the students doing well in academics and other activities at the school. Students are given prizes for doing well in the Board Exams, in their respective Class, scoring higher grades in a particular subject in their Class, etc. During this ceremony students are also given prizes for showing their interest and doing well in the various extra-curricular activities of the school.
  • Scholar’s Tie:-To encourage students to do well in studies continuously and to achieve academic excellence, the Achievers for three consecutive years are rewarded with the Scholar’s tie.
  •  Imagine & Inspire :- The School organizes various seminars / workshops for

the students by the distinguished Alumni of the school as well as those who have done    very well in their professions under the Imagine and Inspire programme to motivate them to do well in their careers and to be responsible citizens of the country.

  • Prefectural Body: – To inculcate leadership, empathy and management skills among the students and also to imbibe them with a caring nature the school has a well-established and planned system where Prefects (student leaders) are elected from the senior most class of the school and are given responsibility to look after and guide the students under their care. These student leaders help the school management in its day to day running and in planning for the wellness of the pupils and of the school.
  • School Management Committee (SMC):- This Committee comprises of Senior management team of school, President of The Old Sanawarian Society, Parent representatives and of eminent educationists who go through the various development plans required for the benefit of the institution.
  • Annual Hikes/Camps: – Every year the school organizes various excursion trips and expeditions which provide opportunities for the students to learn to appreciate the nature of the environment, collaboration (team work), challenge themselves and develop their physical endurance. 
  • Editorial Boards/Clubs: – School provides for many student-led Editorial Boards and Clubs that offer a vast range of opportunities to the students for their academic and personal growth and development. They provide a platform for the students to explore their interest, socialize, build leadership skills, critical thinking and to develop public speaking skills.
  • Inter- House/School Debates & Quizzes: – The School provides ample platforms for the students to enrich their knowledge enhance their communication skills, build upon their critical and logical skills by organizing various debates, competitions and quizzes at school and House level.
  • Inter-House/School Sporting Events: – The School provides immense opportunities to make sure that every child plays a sport and takes part in competitions either at the House or at the School level. It helps students in gaining self-confidence, increasing their self-esteem and learning how to work collaboratively to achieve a shared goal and foster team spirit.
  • Hobbies: – Apart from academic learning the School also provides numerous technical skills to express students’ creativity, improve their artistic skills and to develop their manual dexterity, etc. by providing various Hobbies in its extra-curricular repertoire.

How do you approach faculty recruitment, professional development, and retention to ensure a highly qualifies and motivated teaching staff?

  • Selection Procedure:-The Staff of the School is selected through a process in which due diligence is carried out by a Selection Panel/ Committee after obtaining applications through advertisements posted in the national newspapers. The panel which constitutes various members as per the school policy also includes an expert in the Subject / area of specialization and the suitable candidate is selected purely on his / her merit, skill sets and their professional credentials.
  • Continuous Development Plans: – To cater to the needs of the stakeholders of the School as well as to be up to date with professional standards which are changing with time the school organizes various development programs for its staff to update /upgrade their skills.
  • Opportunity to Grow: – To keep the staff motivated and encouraged towards doing well for the institution the School gives equal opportunities to its staff to grow professionally in their field.
  • Staff Welfare / Well Being / Wellness: – In order to foster a stress free and happy environment for its staff, the School has its own welfare and wellness schemes. One example is The Staff Club. This carries out rejuvenating activities for the staff.
  • Medical Support: – In addition to a Resident Doctor and School Infirmary, the School has put in place a facility for staff to meet uncalled medical challenges.  The School has medical insurance cover for its staff and their spouses (as per the school policy).

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