FAQ: About NIE Training And Beyond (Part 1)

Note: The following set of advice was meticulously consolidated through personal consultations and extensive research over the world wide web. While Domain of Singapore Tutoring Experts attempts to put forth the most accurate information, it shall not be held responsible for any unintended misrepresentations. You may also wish to check out other relevant entries in our "Teaching At MOE" section.

(i) I am actually quite confused with the Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) scheme. Does that mean selected candidates have to undergo 6 months of untrained contract teaching followed by another 16 months of training at NIE? Will candidates be financially compensated whilst going through those 6 months of untrained teaching?

If you're successfully selected, you will be posted to a school for contract teaching. This can range from 6 months to a year because if you're posted to schools after August, you would have missed the start of the PGDE in July. Note that the July 2016 PGDE intake is the last cohort which will last a single year; from December 2016 onward the training duration will be stretched to 16 months.(Consult the programme handbook compiled by NIE HERE)

You'll be paid based on the GEO 2 (Untrained) salary scale, depending on your class of honours.

Do note that your school principal will have the final say over whether you actually get to move on to NIE. Some contract teachers leave MOE because they have been found to be unsuitable for teaching or they simply wanted out.

(ii) Just wondering, do you actually have any say as in deciding where you wish to be posted after training? Say for example I'd like to teach in my alma mater JC, how do I go about getting there?

You can make a request to the Principal of your former JC, and if he agrees, he can submit a request to HQ. Deployment is ultimately dependent on manpower needs. To be honest, for your first posting, you've little or no say at all. But after you're in the school for at least 2 years, you can request for a transfer elsewhere. Anyway, from understanding the present situation, JCs are quite seriously lacking GP teachers. Other subject teachers such as those for Math or Science are in excess, as such they are being told to head over to teach secondary and even primary levels.

(iii) Is it possible to work as a teacher and take up gigs as a private tutor at the same time, ie moonlighting?

The current cap on giving private tuition is 6 hours. MOE is however reviewing the state of affairs, so it is uncertain how long this practice of allowing teachers to moonlight will last.

(iv) Is it generally difficult for an individual with a degree in fine arts from NAFA / Lasaelle and teaching art at the secondary level to receive remuneration on the GEO 1 salary scale? I personally feel the GEO 2 salary scale pays too little (one receives as much as merely an administrative assistant would, which is unjustified).

It is probably quite hard as the number of applicants typically exceeds the number of available vacancies. Priority will be given to those who have held managerial/professional level positions in reputable organizations.

(v) I just started teaching after graduating from NIE in July. Currently serving my bond in a school with bad environment and culture; as such am contemplating waving the white flag. If I decide to break the bond, would the public service proceed to blacklist me, say even if I am able to pay off the liquidated damages?

It is hard to say outright if you will be blacklisted or not. Then again, it is never favourable to break a bond because future employers would think that you might once again call it quits at your convenience when you are offered a job /bonded position. That said, it probably should not affect your future job applications significantly. If you can demonstrate to them without a shred of doubt your capabilities and impress them at interviews, I don't see why they wouldn't want to employ you. I personally feel that it would not matter much if you are miserable at your current job. If you are worried that breaking your bond would affect future job applications, how about considering putting in a request to transfer to another school?

(vi) I seriously hate my school, can I request for a transfer asap?

You can request to be re-posted to another school or MOE HQ only after you have completed at least 2 years of service in the current one. Note though such a transfer will only land you in a government school [This would exclude those privately (independent) funded schools such as SJI(I) and ACS(I)]. However, you can join them after your bond is completed. ( 4 years for degree holders, 3 years for post-graduates)

(vii) First Class Honours graduate here. Completed my PGDE 2 years ago, received an across the board promotion of late. Received performance grades C for 2 years straight as GEO 1.1, and a C+ as GEO1A1. Are these results typical for a newbie teacher?

A C grade is deemed the usual average for teachers if you don't screw up royally. It's also hard to soar above C+ unless you are assigned some specific duties of reasonable visibility or high profile posts in the school. Sad as it is, one's teaching ability is way undervalued compared to his/her performance in other areas (unless you managed to conjure some special teaching program/technique that can ultimately be applied to every class apart from your own set of students). You probably also need to volunteer for extra duties or at least aim to be included within the CCA/Comms which are more highly prized (yes much more efforts are required, but they are commensurate with the rewards). A hidden pointer: if the school principal values your contributions a wee bit more than the rest of your peers , it might be easier on your part to attain a better performance grade.

(viii) Could you give me a typical breakdown of the workload involved, ie what proportion of the time is spent on teaching vs administrative duties?

Rough figures: 50% spent on teaching, 30% spent on CCAs and various miscellaneous projects; remaining 20% spent on administrative stuff.

(ix) Do all scholars generally get promoted faster (including local and lower tier overseas scholars such as those awarded the Teaching Scholarship (Overseas))? How is one ultimately selected for a stint at MOE HQ stint after fulfilling a minimum of 2-3 years of teaching in schools?

Without a doubt scholars get promoted faster. Then again, do note that scholars on the Administrative Officer (AO) scheme rise quicker than those on the Executive Officer (EO) scheme. If you wish to apply for stints at MOE HQ, you may try to make an application through the Annual Posting Exercise (APEX), though some vacancies are never advertised openly. In such instances recommendations are routed through the Principal and Cluster Superintendent before you are invited for a 'tea' session of sorts (also known otherwise as an interview). However do be reminded life at HQ is not for everyone. For most times you will find yourself basically stuck in a desk-bound job where writing ability is seen as an asset. That being said, if you can persevere, there is much to learn and bountiful rewards to be reaped thereafter.

(x) Will we ever get to know our Current Estimated Potential (CEP)? As in would we actually be informed by the Reporting Officer (RO)?

Officially your CEP would not be revealed to you. It might however be opportunistically communicated to you (subtly of course) when discussing about career aspirations; for example since there are minimal CEP grade requirements for filling Subject Head (SH)/ Level Head (LH)/ Head of Department (HOD) positions, the RO might hint to you upfront should you not qualify.