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     FrontPage Edition: Tue 2 October 2007

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New initiatives for Normal (Academic) Course


Enhancing Learning Experiences for Students in the Normal Course

The Ministry of Education (MOE) and schools will be taking further steps to enhance the learning experiences of Normal Course students, who make up 40% of the secondary school cohort[1].
Additional resources, both manpower and financial, will be given to schools which have more Normal Course students.
Students in the Normal (Academic) Course [N(A)] will be helped in building stronger foundations for post-secondary education. Three schools will try out fresh approaches to learning in the Normal (Technical) Course [N(T)] course.
All in, the new initiatives will help students in the Normal Course engage better in their learning, and succeed in school and in post-secondary education.
These initiatives were announced by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education & Second Minister for Finance, at the 2007 MOE Work Plan Seminar on 2 October.
(A) The Education Associate Scheme
To provide additional support for secondary schools with Normal Course students, MOE will introduce a new Education Associate (EDA) scheme from 2008. The EDAs will provide additional manpower for schools, on top of the teaching force that is also being expanded.
The EDAs will work closely with trained teachers, focussing especially on the teaching of the Normal course. Their roles will include co-teaching with the teachers in classes and complementing the teachers’ efforts in providing pastoral support to students.
EDAs with the requisite skills, expertise or teaching experience, can also be deployed to teach special modules or subjects in applied areas, such as computer animation, digital music or drama. These could include existing Elective Modules and Advanced Elective Modules[2] offered by N(A) and N(T) students.
EDAs should possess post-secondary qualifications and have the passion, aptitude and skills to teach Normal course students.
MOE will provide them with a structured pre-service training programme to equip them with basic teaching skills. This will be a four-week full-time training programme in the National Institute of Education (NIE) where the EDAs will study topics ranging from educational psychology to classroom management and teaching strategies.
EDAs who are keen, and have demonstrated their suitability to become teachers, could be recommended by the schools to join the Education Service after they have served a minimum of two years.
The EDA scheme will be extended to all secondary schools with Normal course students in phases by end 2010. Priority will initially be given to schools with higher Normal course enrolment, or higher N(T) enrolment. We expect 37 schools to qualify for priority deployment of EDAs in 2008. Annex A provides the list of schools.
(B) Increase in Manpower Grant
MOE will also increase the Manpower Grant for secondary schools with Normal course students. Since 1999, Manpower Grant has been given to all government and government-aided schools to buy services of support staff or to employ relief teaching staff to supplement their manpower needs.
140 secondary schools will each receive about $20,000 more in Manpower Grant every year. A typical secondary school currently receives about $150,000 of Manpower Grant each year. In total, these schools will receive about $23 million in manpower grant yearly, up from $20 million currently. Schools could use these extra resources to engage additional staff to support programmes tailored for the Normal course students.
(C) Greater Support for N(T) Teaching
(i) Creation of HOD (NT) Position
Schools with a relatively higher proportion of N(T) students would benefit from having a key appointment holder dedicated to looking after the academic and non-academic needs of the N(T) students, as well as to oversee coordination and provide guidance for teachers who teach the N(T) classes. MOE will establish a key appointment position - Head of Department N(T), or HOD N(T).
Secondary schools with at least 20% of their student population comprising N(T) students, or with eight or more N(T) classes with a minimum of 30 students in each class, are eligible to appoint an HOD N(T) with immediate effect. This will be in addition to the existing key appointment holders that these schools currently have. 32 schools are currently eligible to appoint an HOD N(T) based on the criteria. Please refer to the italicised school names in Annex A.
(ii) Customised Training Programme for N(T) Teaching
MOE will provide further training for teachers who are passionate about teaching N(T) students and whose responsibilities are focussed on teaching these students. With the additional teachers provided to schools through the Adjunct Teacher Scheme, schools have greater flexibility in teacher deployment and specialisation across the courses within the school.
MOE will collaborate with the NIE and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) to provide a customised training programme that equips these teachers with in-depth skills for teaching and relating to N(T) students. The programme will include teaching skills and pedagogy for engaging N(T) students, classroom management as well as counselling skills.
MOE will also facilitate greater sharing of practices by tapping on the Master and Senior Teachers network to mentor and coach these teachers. The first customised training programme will be introduced from mid 2008.

Source: Press Release 2 October 2007

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