Friday 27 June 2014

OECD TALIS 2013: Singaporean teachers youngest and best trained world-wide

Singapore teachers among the most hard-working: Study
They clock 10 more hours a week than their peers; and they are the youngest
By Sandra Davie, The Straits Times, 26 Jun 2014

TEACHERS here are some of the most hard-working in the world, clocking 10 more hours a week than peers overseas, said a study.

With an average age of 36, they are also the youngest across the 34 countries and economies surveyed in The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), which involved about 100,000 teachers and school leaders.

"The average age is 43, with Singapore having the youngest and Italy the oldest," the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which did the survey, said yesterday.

Singapore's 33,000-strong teaching force put in 48 hours on average a week, 10 hours more than the survey's average. But they spend less time teaching - 17 hours a week - compared with the average of 19, and more on marking or administrative tasks compared with peers elsewhere.

Mr Andreas Schleicher, OECD education adviser, said the fact that Singapore teachers work long hours may not be unusual as other workers here are also known to do so. "That being said, the fact that much of the additional time goes to administrative work and marking suggests that there may be room for reflection on how to structure the time of teachers more effectively," he added.

This is the first time Singapore is taking part in TALIS, with 3,109 lower secondary teachers from 159 schools. TALIS aims to help countries identify others facing similar challenges and learn from each other.

Singapore's Ministry of Education (MOE) noted that the Republic has one of the highest proportions of teachers trained in actual classroom practices before becoming teachers (98 per cent); and almost all teachers reported taking further courses. Most teachers - 88 per cent - said they were satisfied with their job, compared with the study's average of 91 per cent.

On the younger teaching force here, MOE said young teachers bring "diverse perspectives" and "renewed energy". They also devise innovative ways to engage students by using the latest technologies.

But support is there for young teachers, it said. They acquire the necessary skills and knowledge early on and are "systematically matched to experienced teachers who guide them in the art of teaching and building rapport with their students", it added.

As for longer working hours, Mr Wong Siew Hoong, deputy director-general of education (curriculum), said MOE appreciates that Singapore teachers want to do the best for their students.

But MOE will look into improving work-life balance. Mr Wong said the MOE hopes to provide more support by adding allied educators to help teachers. Mr Wong said the study "affirms that we have a committed, well-prepared and well-trained teaching force that is ready for the future".

Ms Ho Peng, director-general of education, said a key factor for Singapore's success in education is the quality of teachers.

Overall, TALIS found that most teachers worldwide feel unsupported and unrecognised in schools and undervalued by society, despite enjoying their job.

Fewer than one in three teachers believes teaching is a valued profession, in contrast with 68 per cent of teachers here. The OECD said countries where teachers feel valued tend to do better in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), its global study of 15-year-olds' abilities in maths, science and reading.

Teachers in Singapore are the youngest, but among the best-trained worldwide: Survey
Teaching and Learning International Survey 2013, conducted by the OECD, finds that training, professional development and mentorship more than compensates for the seven-year gap between the local teaching workforce and the global average.
Channel NewsAsia, 25 Jun 2014

Despite having the youngest teaching workforce among nations studied, the Republic scored well above the global average in terms of the professional development and mentorship of teachers, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 showed.

“A key factor for the success of our education system is the quality of our teachers. This has been painstakingly built up since the early 2000s. Teachers are key to the delivery of quality learning experiences for all our students," said Ms Ho Peng, Director-General of Education, in response to the release of the survey findings on Wednesday (June 25).

The survey, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), covers more than 30 countries, and required about 106,000 teachers and other school leaders worldwide - largely in lower secondary education - to fill in paper or online questionnaires.

In Singapore, 3,109 lower secondary school teachers and 144 principals from 159 schools responded to the survey. 


Singapore has the youngest teaching force among the countries surveyed, with an average age of 36 - seven years below the global average is 43, according to TALIS.

"We have a relatively younger teaching force due to the significant increase in the number of teachers in recent years. The younger teachers complement the depth and expertise of more experienced teachers who continue to be valued, and who provide professional support and mentoring for the Beginning Teachers," the Ministry of Education said in a statement.

However, the Ministry of Education compensates by placing a strong emphasis on training - for example, 83 per cent take a practicum in subjects they teach, compared to the 67 per cent worldwide. Almost all - 98 per cent - are trained in actual classroom scenarios before becoming full-fledged teachers, 9 percentage points more than the global average.

In addition, teachers are "well-supported in professional development, so that they continue upgrading their skills and deepening their competencies as teachers", the ministry said.

TALIS showed that 98 per cent of teachers participate in professional development activities, the highest of all nations surveyed, with a global average of 88 per cent. MOE noted that nine in 10 such activities are conducted at no expense to the teachers.

"Ensuring that our teachers are competent and professional is critical, to bring out the best in every student and prepare him or her to meet future challenges. We have put in place strong professional development support so that our teachers can hone their craft and upgrade their teaching skills throughout their career as educators," said Ms Ho.


The survey also found that Singapore has among the highest proportion of teachers serving as mentors for other teachers - 39 per cent, compared to the global average of 14 per cent. Two in five have assigned mentors, triple the 13 per cent global figure.

"Our experienced teachers serve as role models and mentors and play a critical role in deepening less experienced teachers’ understanding of the ethos of the teaching profession and the importance of nurturing the whole child," the MOE said.

"Supporting our young teachers is essential to helping them succeed: our young teachers acquire the necessary skills and knowledge early in their career from well-structured pre-service, induction and mentoring programmes, and are systematically matched to experienced teachers who guide them in the art of teaching and building rapport with their students."

Despite longer hours, teachers here say they're satisfied: Survey
Teachers here work 10 hours more than the global average, but satisfaction levels are on par with counterparts elsewhere, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 conducted by OECD finds.
By Chitra Kumar, Channel NewsAsia, 25 Jun 2014

Despite working longer hours than their counterparts in other countries, teachers here say they are "very satisfied" with their jobs, according to a survey - involving teachers and principals from 34 countries - conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 found that teachers in Singapore work an average of 48 hours a week - 10 hours longer than the global average.

Of their time at work, 17 hours a week are spent teaching, about two hours less than teachers elsewhere, according to the 3,109 lower secondary school teachers and 144 principals from 159 schools in Singapore who responded to the survey, the findings of which were announced on Wednesday (June 25).

However, they spend eight hours a week on planning their lessons, nine hours marking, and five hours on administrative duties - relatively higher than the global averages seven, five and three hours, respectively.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said it has made efforts over the years to ease teachers' administrative duties and support them in various functions so that they can focus more on teaching and learning.

"We will continue to support our teachers through providing them the kind of training, the kind of professional development that will equip them to do their work better. We hope to be able to support them through providing them more support in terms of allied educators, in terms of providing them work life balance through proper use of their teaching hours," said MOE Deputy Director-General of Education (Curriculum) Wong Siew Hoong.


Despite the long hours, most teachers in Singapore report high levels of job satisfaction.

About 68 per cent of those surveyed - well above the double the global average of 31 per cent - believe that the teaching profession is respected and valued in society.

The 88 per cent who said they are satisfied with their job is in line with the 91 per cent global average, TALIS showed, while more than four in five (82 per cent) say they would still choose to be a teacher if they were able to make the decision again.

The survey, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), covers more than 30 countries, and required about 106,000 teachers and other school leaders worldwide - largely in lower secondary education - to fill in paper or online questionnaires.

'48 hours? It's more than that'
Teachers here say OECD survey does not reflect their work week
By Amelia Teng, The Straits Times, 27 Jun 2014

TEACHERS in Singapore have criticised an international survey which found that they clock an average of 48 hours a week, saying they put in at least that amount.

The Straits Times spoke to 10 teachers, all of whom said the findings of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) - a Paris-based group of developed or developing countries - did not accurately reflect their typical day.

They said schooldays start as early as 6am and end 10 to 12 hours later - meaning at least 50 working hours a week.

Most of this time is spent teaching while the extra hours are filled with marking and necessary administrative work, including organising school activities.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said it has tried to ease their workload by hiring more teachers and support staff. Each primary and secondary school now has 14 more teachers on average than it did in 2004.

The Teaching and Learning International Survey, released on Wednesday, found teachers here spent almost twice the amount of time on marking and administrative work than their peers overseas. These duties take up nine and five hours respectively per week here, compared with global averages of five and three hours.

Teachers here cited large class sizes - 36 students compared with the global average of 24 - as a reason for this. Many also teach more than one class, meaning it takes longer to mark assignments, especially for essay-intensive and practice-heavy subjects such as languages, the humanities and maths.

One 30-year-old English and literature secondary school teacher said she spends eight hours marking scripts every week. She takes five classes, and mentors two groups of students on research.

The MOE told The Straits Times marking is "one way where teachers can find out whether individual students are learning".

Many teachers also give written feedback in addition to marks, which might explain the longer hours they spend, said its spokesman.

Teachers also said they are regularly tied up with administrative work, ranging from attendance records to planning trips to liaising with vendors for events.

A former secondary school art teacher quit in 2012 because she felt her weekly 60-hour work timetable, which included administrative work, was too gruelling.

"I had no time to invest in genuine lesson planning," she said.

A 27-year-old science teacher said days leading up to school events are packed with "ironing out details" and guiding student leaders in planning. He suggested having more support for logistical aspects such as food catering, as "it can be quite overwhelming for new teachers who need more time to plan lessons".

Like him, most teachers said such duties outside the classroom are "part and parcel of the job".

Another science teacher, who has taught for eight years, said: "Things like tracking students' grades and generating reports cannot be easily outsourced. Often, it's still work to give instructions to someone else to do the work."

The MOE said it will continue to support teachers so they can focus more on teaching.

Every school has an administrative team to assist in areas like finance, allied educators and school counsellors who provide emotional and learning support, its spokesman said.

However principals stressed that teaching is about caring for students in all aspects of school life.

Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) principal Peter Tan said: "Students may not remember the maths, science, geography after school. But they remember the interaction with teachers outside the classroom, in things like co-curricular activities. That's how teachers impart values."

How teachers spend their time:


ELSEWHERE: 38 hours a week

IN SINGAPORE: 48 hours a week


ELSEWHERE: 3 hours



ELSEWHERE: 5 hours


Administrative duties of teachers
- Planning school events such as camps, overseas trips, excursions and concerts.
- Liaising with external vendors and conducting reviews of events.
- Taking charge of co-curricular activities, such as accompanying students for competitions.
- Taking students' daily attendance records and generating reports.
- Conducting risk assessments of students' outdoor activities.
- Tracking students' progress, including their academic grades and other areas of development.
- Communicating with parents and superiors.
- Handling paperwork.

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