This short article, structured as a series of ten questions and answers, has been produced specifically for preschool or kindergarten teachers who are looking to be international teachers in Singapore.
Minimum requirement for teachers in the local school system in Singapore is a Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education.
Teachers who have qualified outside of Singapore will need a similar or higher level of qualification.
If you do not have this qualifications, but have a passion for preschool teaching, then it could be possible to start as a teaching assistant at an international school and then gain the experience and formal teaching qualifications to move into a role as the class teacher.
Standards will vary from school to school but typically would include:
- 5 years post qualification teaching experience
- Preschool teaching experience
- International teaching experience either in Singapore or at another location
It is possible for local teachers in Singapore and for non-international teachers from other countries to make the transition to being international teachers. It should be noted that most international schools will reflect the demands of their parents for high levels of native English proficiency. Some schools will have specialist teaching roles for Mandarin or music teachers where different criteria will apply.
The best teachers all have the following personal characteristics:
- Love of preschool children – the younger age groups in particular are very challenging and the job is not for everyone
- A passion for education that extends to a commitment to self-improvement
- Great planning skills
- A commitment to the education and care of their students that goes beyond the terms and conditions of the employment contract
The main differences in the roles are:
- The goal is to Prepare children for an international education that could be anywhere in the world (as opposed to preparing a child for the Singapore Education System)
- More focus on process of education and less on formal results
- More hands on and more play focused including letting children learn from mistakes
- Building a solid foundation and letting each child learn at their own pace – activities are differentiated according to the needs of each child
However, it should be noted that the Singapore system is changing with an increased focus on a more child centred approach.
This is unlikely unless the school has the time and resource to closely mentor a new teacher and the new teacher is able to demonstrate excellent potential to quickly grow into the role.
Yes his is fairly common. All teachers need to be approved by either the MOE (Ministry of Education) or the Early Childcare Development Agency (ECDA) – depending on the type of preschool) and employment is also subject to granting of necessary work permits by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Foreign teachers are allowed to work if they are PR’s, have employment passes or have a letter of consent from the MOM for those on dependant passes. It should be stressed that employment passes and letter of consent are not automatically granted.
Yes. most schools like to employ teacher who believe in and ideally have experience in the philosophy adopted by the school.
However, flexible teachers who wish to adapt and learn a new philosophy can be very successful.
Yes – and this can be particularly attractive for teachers with young children. Although existing teachers given option first. Part-time roles would typically be 5 days a week for 3-4 hours a day.
Terms structures vary in international schools – and there maybe 2,3 or 4 terms. Typically the total number of weeks required for teaching or being at the school is around 40-44 weeks in the year for teachers.
Being an international preschool teacher is specialised job. There are probably 20-30 preschools that focus on international children (out of a total of more than 2,000 preschools in Singapore).
However, staff turnover is fairly high (as many teachers have partners in international roles and move from one country to another). As a result an experienced preschool international teacher should be able to find a suitable position within 2-4 months on average.
As we all know teaching is not a well remunerated profession. However, international teachers with suitable experience can expect to earn more than teachers at local pre – schools. The premium can be between 30-50% and will vary from school to school.
By Katie Terry, Rain Trees Kindergarten
About Katie Terry
Katie Terry has over 15 years’ experience of teaching in the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore. She has taught at kindergarten and primary level including children with special needs.
Katie is a Director of Rain Trees Kindergarten in Singapore – a small international preschool and kindergarten. If you are interested in a position at the school please contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the school website: raintrees.flywheelstaging.com