Parliament: Teachers to get SkillsFuture road map and more support to hone their skills

From this month, teachers are encouraged to work towards having at least 20 hours of professional development in each of six priority areas over a period of five years. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE

SINGAPORE - Teachers will receive more professional training, with a new SkillsFuture road map drawn up for them, so they can better meet the changing needs of students.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday (March 4) listed six priority areas that the Ministry of Education has identified.

This is part of an updated road map for teachers, called SkillsFuture for Educators, in line with the national movement to keep learning.

"The most important common success factor for all the changes we are making is our teachers," said Mr Ong, during the debate on his ministry's budget.

From this month, teachers are encouraged to work towards having a "proficient" level of practice - which is not more than 20 hours of professional development - in each of these six areas over a period of five years.

One key area is in assessment literacy, or being able to gauge students' progress and learning gaps through different types of assessment, as schools move away from an over-emphasis on academic results.

Other areas are learning how to teach classes of mixed-ability students, supporting those with special needs through a wider range of teaching strategies, and using inquiry-based learning, or getting students to play a more active role in learning.

The last two focus areas are making use of digital technologies to reinforce learning, and being equipped to teach students values that will build their resilience, as part of the changes in character and citizenship education.

Mr Ong said that feedback from teachers contributed to these six areas of interest.

"Our teachers were very forthcoming with their input because they want to learn, be good at what they are doing, and grow in their careers. They do not see professional development and teaching duties as a zero-sum game," he said.

"But to make sure the training is useful, it is important that teachers decide for themselves the kind of training they need."

Currently, teachers have 100 hours they use every year for professional development, which includes courses, research projects or peer networking groups.

Completing these 100 hours is not compulsory, although most teachers here take advantage of them, according to past studies by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The revised training requirement is within this existing load of 100 hours per year, said an MOE spokesman.

"The actual professional development hours for some teachers will be less, as they may already be at the 'proficient' level for some areas of practice.

"As teachers have five years to space out their professional development priorities, the introduction of SkillsFuture for Educators will be manageable within the overall workload of teachers," she added.

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Yishun Town Secondary principal Sharon Yeo said the road map will help teachers select areas of professional growth and enable them to better implement curricula changes.

"Teachers have different years of teaching experience and will appreciate having customised learning based on their varied professional developmental needs," she said.

Her school has also put in place programmes in line with the six priority needs, such as conducting training for teachers to design assessments that will motivate students to learn, as well as to guide teachers to provide a more inclusive learning environment for students with special needs.

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