Raising the Quality of Kindergartens: Greater MOE Support
The Ministry of Education (MOE) will enhance its support to kindergartens through (a) a new Quality Assurance Consultancy scheme, (b) by making available more scholarships for the professional development of kindergarten teachers, and (c) in developing a guide to enhance teacher professionalism. These initiatives augment MOE’s existing efforts to raise the quality of pre-school education.
Enhancing Centre Quality
MOE has launched the Quality Assurance (QA) Consultancy scheme in partnership with the Association of Early Childhood Educators Singapore (AECES). The consultancy scheme will provide greater support to kindergartens in their journey to achieve certification under the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK). Kindergartens1 can apply for guidance from experienced early childhood practitioners and educators to help them review and enhance their centre structures, processes and teaching in preparation for SPARK assessment. To encourage more kindergartens to sign up for the consultancy, MOE will subsidise up to 80 percent of the QA consultancy charges. A similar consultancy scheme is also offered by MCYS to operators of child care centres.
Depending on the needs of the kindergarten, each kindergarten can receive up to five quality assessment consultation sessions, each lasting four hours, over a maximum period of six months. The QA consultant will work with the kindergarten to review and improve its programmes, structures and processes in preparation for SPARK assessment.
SPARK was launched in November 2010 to encourage pre-schools to strive for excellence in the holistic development of young children. Using the Quality Rating Scale (QRS) within SPARK, pre-schools adopt a structured approach to examine the effectiveness of their programmes and identify their strengths and areas for improvement. Pre-schools can also apply for quality assessment in the seven areas of Leadership, Planning and Administration, Staff Management, Resources, Curriculum, Pedagogy and Health, Hygiene and Safety. Although participation in quality assessment is voluntary, pre-schools are strongly encouraged to participate as a good rating is an endorsement of the quality of the pre-school.
As of 2011, 69 pre-schools have attained SPARK certification and another 53 have applied to be certified in the first half of this year.
Enhancing Teacher Quality
The quality of pre-school educators is critical to the quality of pre-school education. Since 2008, MOE and MCYS has invested about $8.1 million to expand the professional development and upgrading pathways for pre-school educators to pursue higher qualifications in early childhood education and in specialised areas. MOE and MCYS also provide subsidies for educators to attend courses and conferences for professional development.
To equip educators with the requisite knowledge and skills to develop children holistically, MOE and MCYS will offer more scholarships, teaching awards and bursaries over the next two years. MOE will offer 450 awards and scholarship for educators in kindergartens. These include 140 new teaching awards and scholarships in the following two areas:
- 100 new teaching awards for certificate courses. This includes the Teaching of Music and Movement course conducted by Republic Polytechnic. The first batch of 20 educators completed this course in February 2012.
- 40 scholarships for the new Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education degree programme offered by the Singapore Institute of Technology in collaboration with Wheelock College, which starts in July 2012. Applications for the scholarship begin in March 2012.
Enhancing Teacher Professionalism
Recognising the professionalism of pre-school teaching, MOE is drafting a guide on professional pathways for kindergarten educators. This guide will provide a developmental map for kindergarten teachers to aspire towards different career pathways through differentiated training opportunities. Based on their strengths, interests and aspirations, there could be varied career pathways in areas such as Teaching, Mentoring, Specialist or Leadership for pre-school teachers. A draft was distributed to kindergartens in November 2011 and MOE is currently seeking feedback from stakeholders in the kindergarten sector to continue to refine the career pathways to strengthen the professionalism of kindergarten teachers.
For instance, kindergarten teachers who are interested in music and movement can take up the certificate course in music and movement offered by Republic Polytechnic as foundation training. With more training in music and movement, teachers can then aspire to progress along the Specialist pathway and serve as specialist teachers for their kindergarten and peers. For the Mentoring pathway, experienced teachers can guide and mentor more junior teachers after they have attended training in mentoring. In attaining the competencies to take on different levels of responsibilities within each pathway, these teachers can look forward to a remuneration that is commensurate with their job scope and expertise.
Hence, the guide on possible career pathways will enhance awareness of the potential career prospects of kindergarten teachers, and allow kindergarten operators to use the guide as a reference to provide career advancement opportunities for their teachers. The pre-school sector will also benefit from increased teacher professionalism in terms of enhanced teacher quality and teacher retention.
- Kindergartens applying for the QA consultancy scheme must fulfil the following criteria: At least 75% of the kindergarten’s teachers have a Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education — Teaching (DECCE-T), while the Principal has a Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education — Leadership (DECCE-L) as well as a minimum of two years of teaching experience. Kindergartens must also have completed the annual self-appraisal for the previous year using the SPARK Quality Rating Scale and the action plan for the current year.↩