Friday 20 November 2015

MOE cuts back on hiring teachers

800 graduates and school leavers recruited so far this year, down from 1,300 in 2014
By Sandra Davie, Senior Education Correspondent, The Straits Times, 19 Nov 2015

Only 800 graduates and school leavers have made the cut to become teachers so far this year, as the Ministry of Education (MOE) continues to scale down the recruitment of educators.

An eight-year recruitment drive since 2004 has helped it to build up the number of teachers to more than 33,000 currently, said MOE, adding that the total number recruited this year is likely to reach 900 by the end of next month.

Of those hired so far this year, the significant majority are graduates and 15 per cent are mid-career hires.

But the number is still a big drop from the peak of its hiring drive in 2009, when 3,000 teachers were recruited. In the years after, the figure was between 2,000 and 3,000 a year. Then, in 2013, the number fell to 1,400, and last year, it went down a notch further to 1,300.

On the further cut this year, the ministry said: "While we have grown the size of the teaching force significantly over the past few years, our focus now is on replacing teachers who have left the service and recruiting more teachers in specific subject areas." These areas include art and music, the humanities, Tamil language and physical education.

In 2006, when MOE employed 28,000 teachers, it took steps to improve salaries and career prospects.

Around 85 per cent of teachers are graduates, and at the primary school level, seven in 10 teachers have a degree.

Eight years ago, the ministry improved pay and promotion prospects for mid-career professionals. That led to the number of mid-career teachers growing from 15 per cent of the teaching force in 2002 to nearly 25 per cent currently.

In August, MOE announced another pay rise for teachers which came into effect last month. Up to 30,000 teachers received a 4 per cent to 9 per cent increase in their monthly pay. All trained teachers will also get an annual special payment each September from next year, ranging between $500 and $700 in cash.

MOE has also announced a single salary structure for graduate and non-graduate teachers, in line with SkillsFuture's direction to recognise employees' skills beyond academic qualifications.

With more teachers, schools have been able to reduce class sizes at lower primary levels to about 30 pupils, and offer more "extras", such as the Learning Support Programme. Teachers also have more time to develop themselves professionally.

But with the ministry cutting back on hiring, more are disappointed at being turned away. Two graduates who failed to land a position as teachers said they were surprised as they had mastered the right teaching subjects and had some experience.

One of them, a National University of Singapore graduate who declined to be named, said: "I have always wanted to be a teacher and I picked subjects like English language and geography as my majors. I also chalked up experience volunteering as a tutor in tuition programmes run by welfare organisations."

The other, a 21-year-old overseas university graduate, suggested having a scheme similar to Teach for America, where fresh college graduates are recruited to teach for two years in low-income school districts.

He said: "There should be a scheme where those who have a passion for teaching can be given some training and tried out for a year. If they prove themselves, then they should be hired as full-time teachers."

Trainee teachers to get more hands-on practice
NIE to extend course for degree holders from 12 to 16 months, in efforts to raise standards
By Sandra Davie, Senior Education Correspondent, The Straits Times, 21 Nov 2015

To help teachers better respond to the changing needs of education, the National Institute of Education (NIE) will extend its one-year training programme for degree holders to 16 months.

The additional four months for the Postgraduate Diploma in Education will be used to provide more hands-on practice in the classroom and extra courses.

Trainees are now sent to the classroom for 10 weeks towards the end of the programme. Under the change, the extra four-week practice stint will be introduced earlier in the course.

During this stint, the trainees, called pre-service teachers, will return to NIE one day a week, and take part in discussions to help them better understand their role as teachers and strengthen their application of theory to practice.

There will be greater coverage of educational psychology and how to teach specific subjects. NIE will also introduce new courses on the role of the form tutor and on how to better engage parents.

Good news – in our continual joint efforts to raise the quality of teachers in Singapore, MOE and NIE are enhancing and...
Posted by Ministry of Education, Singapore on Friday, November 20, 2015

Another new course, Singapore Kaleidoscope, will help trainees gain a rich, multi-faceted perspective on Singapore.

The batch that starts its training in December next year will be the first to go through the new programme.

Acting Minister for Education Ng Chee Meng, who announced the change yesterday after visiting NIE, said Singapore's teaching force is of high quality, and that he was "deeply impressed by their commitment, dedication and heart for their kids".

But "given the complexities of the world ahead and future challenges", the teacher training programme needs to be deepened and expanded, he said.

The new programme will give teachers-to-be a better introduction to the profession, broaden their scope of learning and enable them to contextualise what they learn in the classroom, he said.

The greater coverage of educational psychology and teaching methods will also enable teachers to customise their lessons to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Director-general of Education Wong Siew Hoong said the extended programme is aligned with the aim of the Ministry of Education (MOE) and NIE to develop teachers who are not only grounded in their professional skills, but are also reflective and capable of inquiring into their own practice.

"All these will uplift the quality of teaching and learning in our classrooms, strengthen our work with our students and help our students develop competencies needed for the future," he said.

Professor Tan Oon Seng, director of NIE, noted that there is a need to prepare teachers for a more complex world.

He added: "The additional investment allows for better consolidation of professional learning and thinking as well as opportunities for deeper immersion into practice. With more time, pre-service teachers are also able to engage in more collaborative activities, develop stronger collegial bonds and build peer learning communities for longer-term professional growth."

Mr Bernard Lim, 26, a former financial consultant who is training at NIE to become a mathematics teacher, said the current 10-week practicum is too short. As it comes at the end of the course, trainees cannot really take the problems they face back to their professors.

So the extra four-week practice in the classroom earlier in the course would be useful, he said.

The Straits Times recently reported that MOE had scaled back on recruitment of teachers after exceeding its target of 33,000 teachers.

This year, it is likely to recruit only 900 teachers, down from the 1,300 hired last year, and fewer than a third of the 3,000 enlisted at the peak of its hiring drive in 2009.

MOE said it had expanded the teaching force significantly, and its focus now is on replacing teachers who have left the service, and recruiting more teachers in specific subject areas.

Graduate and non-graduate teachers to get same career progression; up to 9% pay raise
Enhancements to the Education and Allied Educators Schemes of Service
Investing in Our Teachers: Enhancement of Postgraduate Diploma in Education Programmes

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