No spike in teachers leaving in past 5 years, says Sota

There has not been a spike in teachers quitting, the School of the Arts (Sota) said yesterday, after one of its students created an art piece paying tribute to the school's ex-teachers.

The school said turnover rates have remained constant in the past five years.

As part of a class activity, Year 6 student Calleen Koh had on Tuesday put up a performance piece where she sat down in front of the staff-room door and wrote down the names of teachers who have left Sota on at least 20 pieces of paper.

Then, to remember these teachers, she folded each piece into a plane and threw them towards the door one by one.

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Former Sota teacher Mark Rozells' Facebook post, in which he shared his appreciation of the work and its subsequent removal by the school, created a buzz online.

Calleen, 18, told The Straits Times that she was overwhelmed by the response, and thankful. "From what I see, it created a platform of discourse for many of the parties involved, and opened up emotions I have never seen before in some."

The school explained that it had removed the work on Wednesday as it had been put up without its knowledge and goes against guidelines.

"At Sota, we encourage our students to express themselves creatively, and our school grounds form part of our students' canvas and performance platform," said a spokesman. There are, however, guidelines for displayed works, such as the need to "provide a description for the artwork and the display period", he added.

When asked about teachers leaving, the school said: "In 2012, the staff turnover rate was 12 per cent under the founding principal. The rate remains the same under the current principal."

The current Sota principal, Ms Lim Geok Cheng, took over from founding principal Rebecca Chew in 2012. Sota was founded in 2008.

Sota added that staff left over the years for various reasons, such as moving overseas, taking on new jobs and returning to the Ministry of Education after a secondment.

Mr Rozells, who taught literature at Sota, left in March after seven years to take up a new role at SIM International Academy. "I had a good experience at Sota," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2017, with the headline 'No spike in teachers leaving in past 5 years, says Sota'. Print Edition | Subscribe