Teaching course for IB Primary Years programme

An early childhood training institute has tied up with an Australian university to certify teachers for the International Baccalaureate (IB).

The year-long course will equip teachers to impart the IB curriculum to three- to 12-year-olds. It will be conducted by faculty from the University of Melbourne (UOM) as part of a partnership with the Asian International College (AIC).

The course, the first of its kind here, will take in its first batch of 20 students in July and will be conducted on a part-time basis. Participants - they must have an undergraduate degree or a teaching qualification - will be taught by UOM faculty, who will visit here every three months.

Coursework covers areas like the use of assessment in helping students learn through projects, practical work and reports, as well as the principles of an inquiry-based curriculum.

Students can earn a postgraduate certificate in education in the IB Primary Years programme. The qualification is the same as that awarded at the UOM, one of 23 institutions around the world to offer IB educator certificates.

The University of Hong Kong is one of those offering IB teaching qualifications.

The International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), which has an office here, also conducts teacher training workshops.

In Singapore, there are 29 IB schools, most of them international schools. Of the total, 17 offer the Primary Years programme, including EtonHouse Preschool in Newton, Chatsworth International School and the Australian International School.

AIC head Swapna Pawar told The Straits Times that an advantage in taking the course, which costs $13,992, is that it allows teachers to work and study at the same time. "This qualification is something like an MBA, so teachers who have it will be better paid than those without it," she said.

Applications opened last month and close on May 26.

Mr Ian Chambers, director of the IBO in the Asia-Pacific region, said: "With demand for IB programmes growing at over 30 per cent per annum across the Asia-Pacific region, there is a corresponding demand for IB-proficient teachers who not only know IB programmes but also demonstrate pedagogy centred on developing the whole child through inquiry-based learning... We are sure the growing number of IB World schools in Singapore will benefit from a growing pool of IB-ready educators."

The AIC is part of the global education group Knowledge Universe, which operates the Learning Vision, Pat's Schoolhouse and Odyssey, The Global Preschool brands. It has trained more than 5,000 preschool educators in the past 15 years. This is its first foray into IB training.

The IB curriculum is characterised by a broad-based approach focusing on inquiry and reasoning, making use of a student's natural sense of curiosity. As well as the primary years programme, there are courses for the middle years and diploma programmes.

Pre-school teacher Jhoanna Hipulan, 35, is one of 14 applicants who have signed up for the course so far. "I want to expand my knowledge of education, and learn different teaching approaches," she said. "What I also like about the course is that it allows me to work and study at the same time."

ateng@sph.com.sg