Wooing the best talent to teaching

NST, September 7, 2013

THE Education Ministry has raised the  bar on entry to the  teaching profession, with new trainees  to be selected only from the top 30 per cent of graduates.

The move is part of several measures to elevate teaching as a profession of choice by recruiting only the very best and equipping them with the tools and support to deliver high-quality outcomes for every child in every school.

Other measures include a new career package for teachers, which is expected to change the way they are selected, developed and rewarded throughout their careers.

According to Wave 1 (2013-2015) of the blueprint, the first changes will focus on improving the standard of teachers and strengthening support systems and working environments.

This includes running a targeted marketing and recruiting campaign, focusing on high-performers, and specific areas where there is a shortage of teachers, such as English, Science and male teachers.

The ministry is also committed to ensuring that by 2015, 60 per cent of primary school teachers and 90 per cent of secondary school teachers are graduates.

It will also implement a single instrument, effective next year, which outlines the expected competencies of teachers of different tenure levels across four dimensions: teaching and learning, professional values, non-classroom activities, and professional contributions.

Three different tracks will be formalised by the second wave (2016-2020):

A TEACHING track for teachers who wish to stay focused on teaching students;

A LEADERSHIP and management track for teachers who wish to take up leadership positions, whether at the school, district education office, state education department or ministry levels; and,

A SUBJECT matter expert track for teachers who wish to become teacher coaches and trainers, teacher training institute and Institute Aminuddin Baki lecturers, or curriculum and assessment developers.

For each of these tracks, the ministry will build off the instrument developed in Wave 1 to define how teachers' competencies are expected to evolve with each promotion.

It will also ensure that promotion opportunities are comparable across all three tracks, and that movement between tracks is possible.

Teachers will also have to deal with less administrative work with data collection and management systems to be streamlined to eliminate work redundancy.

A New Principal Career Package will also be rolled out in waves with more support and sharper accountability for improving student outcomes.

The selection criteria for principals will no longer be primarily based on length of service but will now factor in competency and training experience.

It will also be compulsory for future principals to undergo the National Professional Qualification for Educational Leaders principal preparatory training programme before they are promoted.

Incoming principals will also be required to complete a residency programme, where they will spend a month being mentored by the outgoing principal in his or her future school.

This will allow new principals to familiarise themselves with the school quickly and ensure training from an experienced mentor.

International evidence has shown that an outstanding principal, who is focused on instructional and not only administrative leadership, can raise student outcomes by as much as 20 per cent.