Mid-career teachers a rising trend

Mid-career teachers a rising trend

Monday, 14 February 2011

Media Type

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Education's push to attract mid-career teachers is paying off as one in four in the teaching service now belongs to this group - up from 15 per cent almost a decade ago.

The ministry also revealed in a statement to MediaCorp that, on average, 35 per cent of its teaching recruits have had at least one year of outside working experience since 2008.

That was when the ministry made salary and promotion adjustments at the policy level to entice the group into the profession.

The topic of mid-career teachers was broached last week when Education Minister Ng Eng Hen said it was no longer uncommon for individuals to have different vocations in their working lives, with many former engineers, architects and IT specialists now deciding to teach.

The group's resignation rate has averaged around 3 per cent in the past few years, comparable with the overall resignation rate of teachers, said the ministry.

A spokesperson said: "Those whom we recruit with working experience elsewhere bring with them different perspectives that have helped enrich learning in our schools."

The spokesperson added that the Civil Service, tertiary and private educational institutions, finance and insurance, health and social services, as well as manufacturing sectors make up the top five sources of mid-career teachers.

Teck Whye Secondary School principal Zach Ong, has noticed more mid-career teachers among the school's newly-posted recruits who currently make up about 15 per cent of its teacher population.

Their increase in numbers has made school learning more interesting, said Mr Ong, as mid-career teachers tend to apply their real-life knowledge in lessons instead of just relying on textbooks.

He said: "For example, you can have an (former) engineer teaching design and technology, where they build structures, and he or she will say 'we're not building it because I'm teaching you to do well in your exams but this kind of structure is commonly used in a bridge or certain highways'."

Mid-career teachers also tend to understand the importance of networking, he added, and are more willing to work with outside contacts such as town councils and community centres for school programmes.

But Mr Sharyl Lidzhan, 33, a mid-career National Institute of Education trainee who taught for a few months in East Spring Secondary School, said classroom management is one major challenge for them.

Referring to peers he knows who dropped out of the profession, he said: "They are so used to dealing with adults and can't handle dealing with students."

Still, Mr Lidzhan felt that the current support system - where new recruits are sent for a two-day teaching course and are paired with more experienced mentors to co-form a class - are adequate measures to prepare mid-career teachers for the switch.

He added: "The support structure is there but it may just be a personality issue for some of us."


Source: Today, mediacorp