Yay!!! Better training for our teachers!!
Good response from pre-school operators to relief teacher scheme
SINGAPORE — A training programme to groom a pool of relief pre-school teachers has been well-received by pre-school operators, which can tap these teachers when they send their full-time staff for training, be it a one-day course or diploma programme that would require a teacher to be out of the classroom three times a week.
The NTUC SEED Institute, which runs the programme, said since its launch last July, it has trained more than 150 relief teachers — mainly back-to-work women and homemakers who are in their late 30s to early 50s — and about 80 per cent have been matched to pre-schools.
The institute, a Continuing Education and Training centre for the early childhood sector, has enhanced its programme and plans to continue to expand the pool of relief staff.
This comes as the Government continues its push to enhance the quality of childcare in Singapore, with the launch of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Master Plan last November, which sets out structured professional development road maps that outline new teaching and leadership pathways and will provide guidelines on the recommended number of hours of training for teachers.
Having a pool of relief staff — to encourage more early childhood professionals to attend training — was also among the support measures the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) was looking at.
First rolled out as a three-week course that teaches trainees how to perform routine care activities — such as feeding and toileting — the programme has since been enhanced to offer longer in-class and practicum hours.
The changes bring the programme in line with what is required on the ground, said SEED Institute, which developed the programme with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and ECDA.
Deputy director of programmes at SEED Institute Kok Siat Yeow said the enhanced programme, which started last month, helps relief staff to be better equipped in the care and support of young children’s development and learning.
“The pool (also) comes in to provide pre-schools with an extra pair of helping hands, especially when staff go for continuing professional education and training, (are) on leave or medical leave etc,” Dr Kok added.
ECDA said childcare centres are now allowed to designate up to four days for CPD training, while keeping the centre open. “Relief staff may supplement centres’ manpower needs during these CPD days,” said its spokesperson.
Under the enhanced curriculum, the trainees have to spend 80 hours in class and 30 hours on field practicum. In addition, they are required to clock at least 20 hours of relief duties at various pre-schools after they have completed their training.
The relief teachers do not teach — they help with activities such as play, storytelling, songs and routine care.
SEED Institute said the additional in-class hours allow for more classroom interaction, while the longer practicum hours will give trainees more opportunities to apply what they have learnt at the pre-schools.
For pre-school operators that do not have their own pool of relief teachers, having resources such as SEED Institute’s programme is a welcome relief.
Principal of Pegasus International Pre-school Shyan Campos Lim schedules training for each of her staff at least twice a year, during which she would request for a relief teacher from SEED Institute.
Likewise, the principal of Childhood Builder Preschool, Ms Ang Bee Leng, has a long-term arrangement with a relief teacher from SEED Institute to fill in whenever one of her teachers attends weekly trainings for her diploma course.
“It helps us a lot when it comes to routine care. At least there is somebody to help us and we’re not (as) short-handed,” she said.
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