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New centre to provide training, mentoring for pre-school teachers

The Lien Foundation and St James' Church Kindergarten unveiled their pre-school practicum centre on Tuesday (Aug 12) to offer hands-on training and coaching for teachers.

SINGAPORE: In a move to raise the level of training for pre-school teachers in Singapore, the Lien Foundation and St James’ Church Kindergarten on Tuesday (Aug 12) unveiled their pre-school practicum centre at Harding Road.

The centre will provide structured training for the practicum component of a pre-school trainee teacher’s diploma, degree or master's course. It aims to help develop the teachers in areas like classroom management, lesson planning delivery and curriculum development, among other things.

A common problem among pre-school teachers in Singapore is the lack of hands-on training and coaching during their attachment, said the Lien Foundation. Chief Executive Lee Poh Wah said it is crucial to ensure pre-school teachers are meaningfully engaged and mentored by experienced practitioners at critical points of their training.

"They have challenges coping with classroom realities because of inadequate training. While the government has invested significant resources over the years to train early childhood pre-school teachers, I think that more thought needs to go into how we can get teachers to acquire practical skills and professional values through high quality practice," said Mr Lee.

At the new centre, trainee pre-school teachers will receive close guidance from host teachers and mentor supervisors who are specifically in charge of this programme.

The centre opened in April and 15 trainees - from SEED Institute, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic - have since graduated from the programme. The centre is able to train up to 300 pre-school trainee teachers each year.

Ms Jacqueline Chung, senior principal of St James' Church Kindergarten, said trainee pre-school teachers would have "dedicated mentor supervisors who do not have other work to do but to see to their needs". She added: "In most schools, teachers or the leaders of the school would be busy with other aspects of their work."

Siti Suhailah is one trainee who has completed her session. She said: "One of the most important things this practicum centre has done is to rekindle my passion for early childhood education. Having a good mentor, especially direct practicum teachers who are there to focus one-on-one with you, is really good.

"For other schools which do not have a practicum centre, it is the teachers in class who have to dedicate their time. And they can maybe only dedicate 15 minutes of their time, for example, if they have the time to spare."