Our Teacher Education and Development JourneyWe have come a long way in teacher education and development, building on the efforts of the past. Guided by our vision to ‘Lead, Care and Inspire’, our focus today is on professional development and continuous learning which meets the needs of our teachers in a fast changing landscape. At the same time, teacher ownership and teacher leadership are fostered as we learn from one another. Amidst the changes, one thing remains the same: we share the commitment of previous generations to bring out the best in every child, by upholding the ethos and code of conduct for our profession. This zone traces the professional development of teachers in Singapore from the 1950s to the present, illuminating significant milestones along the way.
The Early Years (1800 – 1979)
1800s to 1945: From Pupil-Teacher System to Normal Training Model
No formal structure for training teachers existed in the early years, other than a rudimentary system where pupils were handpicked to help teachers maintain discipline and teach junior classes. The pupil-teacher system eventually transitioned into a two-year part-time Normal training system from 1907 to 1941.
1950: A Training College for Teachers
At the end of World War II, an overwhelming shortage of locally-trained teachers led to the establishment of the Teachers’ Training College (TTC) to train English medium teachers. TTC subsequently conducted training of teachers in vernacular schools, following the recommendation for equal treatment of the four main languages.
1955: Charting a New Course for Education
The Ministry of Education (MOE) was formed with the goal of charting a new course for education in Singapore and carrying out the necessary reforms. Since its founding, MOE has actively implemented and formulated policies on education structure, curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.
1960: A Unified Training System
The dual system of part-time and full-time training at TTC proved inadequate for producing enough trained teachers for the growing number of schools. A three-year single in-service training system was introduced where teachers were trained at TTC in the morning, before assuming teaching responsibilities in schools in the afternoon.
1966: Training Teachers in Media Use
The use of audio-visual resources became an integral part of professional teacher education in the 1960s. This was particularly significant when the Singapore Educational Television Service was established in 1966 as a production centre for instructional television programmes within MOE.
1973: Formalising Teacher Education on a National Level
TTC was replaced by the Institute of Education (IE), marking a milestone of organisational change in teacher education. Under its first Director Dr Ruth H. K. Wong, IE established itself as a significant institute for both pre-service and in-service teacher education, as well as education research.
1976: Improving Quality of In-Service Courses
MOE formalised in-service administration with the setting up of the Committee on In-service Courses, with IE representation. This was later replaced by the Staff and Training Branch, to reconceptualise in-service provision as part of an overall staff development strategy.
Transforming Teacher Education (1980 – 1997)
1980: Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Educational Technology
Following a review of the education system by MOE in 1978, the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore (CDIS) was established to develop a range of local teaching materials. Instructional materials included a wide range of AV resources, with an emphasis on teacher education in Educational TV programmes.
1984: Developing Teachers to be School Leaders
The Diploma in Educational Administration (DEA), a one-year full-time in-service programme, was introduced. It stemmed from a desire to promote excellent teachers to school leadership positions to allow MOE to increasingly devolve the responsibility of educational management to school principals. This evolved to become the Leaders in Education (LEP) Programme in 2001, which focused on innovative and future-oriented leadership.
1991: A New Phase for Teacher Training
In July 1991, IE and the College of Physical Education were merged to become National Institute of Education (NIE), which in turn became a part of Nanyang Technological University.
Our Mission Continues (1998 – Present)
1998: By Teachers, For Teachers
The establishment of the Teachers Network in 1998 was a concrete move towards promoting teacher ownership of professional learning, with ground-up teacher development initiatives.
2003: Teacher Work Attachment (TWA) Programme
The TWA programme encourage teachers to take up work attachments in other organisations to broaden perspectives, which could be infused into classroom activities for students. It also helps them understand skills which students need in the changing workplace.
2005: Expanding Opportunities for Lifelong Learning
The Professional Development Continuum Model was implemented by MOE in collaboration with NIE, to empower teachers to pursue professional upgrading and in-service course accreditation.
2007: A Whole-School Approach for Professional Development
The School Staff Developer position was created in 2007 to help school leaders look into systematic professional development of teachers and staff within a school.
2009: Fostering Teacher-led Learning Communities
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) were set up in schools to promote professional collaboration and excellence among teachers, so as to facilitate improved student learning outcomes.
2010: A Leading Academy for Teacher Development
Academy of Singapore Teachers (AST) was established on 1 September as a leading academy championing professional excellence and development for the teaching fraternity.
Built on the foundation of the former Training and Development Division and Teachers Network, AST, together with the teacher academies and language centres, continues the work of providing all educators with quality learning opportunities while advancing its philosophy of ‘teacher-ownership, teacher-leadership.’
2017: A Model for Pedagogical Excellence
The Singapore Teaching Practice, a model of teaching and learning built on past experiences, was introduced to guide and strengthen effective teaching and learning. Jointly developed by local educators and researchers, it articulated the beliefs of the teaching fraternity and distilled teaching practices that worked in our Singapore context.
2020: Launch of SkillsFuture for Educators (SFEd)
In line with the “Learn for Life” movement, SkillsFuture for Educators (SFEd) serves as a professional development (PD) roadmap for teachers to focus their efforts in prioritised Areas of Practice according to four levels of Practice in each area.
Launched in 2020, SFEd supports the continuing professional growth of our teachers.
Into the Future...and Beyond
The effort to develop teachers into skilful professionals, able to bring out the best in every child, is a relentless one. As the education system evolves to meet future needs, so too must teachers, as each generation builds on the foundations of the last.