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The Centre for Escalation of Peace had organised a year-long Asia-Pacific Schools Initiative (APSI) in 2017. The educational programme brought together students and teachers from 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. We endeavoured to create a network of future leaders, developing and nurturing in each one of them the capacity to exercise “Leadership through Serene Strength”. In 2018, we continued to build on that foundation and extended the programme to the School Leaders. The School Leaders’ Retreat aimed to bring together principals of the schools that were part of the Asia Pacific Schools Initiative in 2017 and also extended the network to the other principals in the Asia-Pacific Region.

The rationale for the current retreat stemmed from our philosophy that ‘leadership is more action than mere position’. Creating buy-in, driving optimism, genuinely connecting with team members and having authentic conversations to “lead” a group is very different from simply “managing” one. This applies to educational institutions as much as it does to corporate groups.

The programme addressed the unique challenges of a school leader in the complex and fast-changing world of learning. Designed specifically for school heads, the programme equipped participants with ideas, skills and practices to create and lead collaborative result-oriented teams. Sessions and learning items focused on distinguishing technical and adaptive challenges in running a school, creating alignment and commitment among team members, and nurturing a win-win mindset. The sessions included engaging activities, reflection, sharing and discussions to co-create insights and learning based on an experiential learning approach.

Some of the significant insights we gathered are:

•           Identifying elements that make a ‘person of substance’

•           The process of building trusting relationships

•           Common vocabulary to be used in education

•           Nuances involved in preparing students for careers that do not yet exist

•           Best practices on reflection

•           Conversations about qualitative assessment

•           Understanding different leadership styles

Overall the retreat proved to be successful in helping the participants and organisers fathom the challenges and the scale of change facing schools and education, in general, while helping us identify strategies and interventions to deal with them.

To read the detailed report about the programme, please click here.

If you would like to know more about the activities and outcomes of the school leaders retreat, please get in touch with us at