Budget debate: Peer sharing for early childhood educators; new schemes to improve pre-school quality

By 2024, up to 300 educators are expected to benefit from Communities of Practices. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Early childhood education will get a boost with new measures to better train and develop educators, including an initiative for seasoned pre-school teachers to share know-how and experiences with their peers.

The peer-sharing initiative, called the Early Childhood Learning Communities, will be launched next month, and participants will be guided to become curriculum and pedagogical leaders.

The changes were announced by Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling at the debate on her ministry's budget on Thursday (March 10).

These communities will cover four domains - early years competencies, outdoor learning, social and emotional development, and language and literacy.

Each participant will be part of the community for two years, and is expected to commit a minimum of 24 hours in the first year and 40 hours in the second, such as by attending their learning community sessions and professional development programmes customised by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

By 2024, up to 300 educators are expected to benefit from Communities of Practices - peer sharing and learning sessions - led by participants themselves.

Participants will also receive a professional development grant in their second year and an annual manpower relief fund will be available to their employers.

Ms Sun also announced a new Leadership Development Framework to strengthen leadership competencies in the sector, and drive quality improvements in pre-school centres. The framework will look at three areas - curricular and pedagogical leadership, strategic and administrative leadership and core leadership.

There will be a leadership training road map to guide potential and existing early childhood leaders in acquiring these competencies.

"Early childhood educators and leaders are crucial to driving the quality of education and care of our children," said Ms Sun.

ECDA is also developing a Quality Teaching Tool to establish a common standard for teaching in the local context. It will be made available to all pre-schools once developed, she added.

Another move to improve quality is the review of the Early Years Development Framework for educators of children aged three and below, said Ms Sun. The framework describes desired outcomes, key principles and suggested practices.

ECDA will be reviewing the framework, first launched in 2011, to include new areas such as the learning of mother tongue languages and creating an inclusive classroom environment. The refreshed framework will be ready by end-2023.

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