Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Education whether the Ministry has conducted reviews on teachers’ workload following the introduction of hybrid learning in schools.
Mr Chan Chun Sing: The Ministry of Education (MOE) monitors our teachers’ workload through periodic surveys and polls, and various forms of staff engagements, including school visits by senior management. Such feedback gives us a holistic appreciation of the workload, so that we can adjust our policies and programmes as necessary.
From the internal surveys conducted over the last five years, the work hours that our teachers reported during term time has remained stable, averaging 50 to 53 hours per week. MOE works with schools and partners to manage the work demands on our teachers. For instance, MOE has enhanced IT systems such as Parents’ Gateway, to significantly streamline administrative processes. To reduce the workload and stress on teachers and students over the past two years, we have reduced the coverage of national examinations, and removed some school-based examinations.
MOE recognises the exceptional demands on our education system due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, our teachers have borne the brunt of it by taking on more responsibilities to ensure our students continue to learn in a safe environment. We have also had to move much faster in adopting blended learning as part of our response to the disruption caused by the pandemic. Home-based learning, as part of blended learning, provides opportunities for students to grow as self-directed learners. But it also means that our teachers have to adapt and learn to design effective lessons and develop suitable resources for home-based learning. Recognising the need to support teachers in this effort, MOE offers professional development programmes, and has made available a growing set of curriculum resources for teachers to use on the Singapore Student Learning Space, our national online learning platform.
We will continue to see how best to keep workload manageable for our teachers. For example, schools have been given greater flexibility to pace the implementation of certain initiatives, including deferring implementation if this helps to spread out staff workload. I want to also highlight two aspects about workload which are not covered by a singular measure of hours worked in a typical week: first, to ensure teachers are not expected to respond at night and over the weekends to parents and students unless it is an emergency; second, to ensure that teachers are given sufficient protected time during the school holiday period to take a proper break. We will continue to uphold these guidelines and we also urge parents to support us in this effort.
MOE will also work closely with schools and school leaders to further strengthen well-being support in the following ways. First, strengthen teachers’ knowledge and practical skills for self-care and emotional literacy. MOE provides well-being resources and organises workshops for teachers in areas such as managing difficult conversations and stress management. Second, enhance school culture for well-being by working with school leaders to foster a supportive culture of transparency, trust and open communication with teachers. MOE encourages school leaders to communicate expectations to help teachers better manage their workload. Teachers can also access well-being resources, including approaching the Wellness Ambassadors in their schools or calling the Whole-of-Government Counselling hotline.
Teachers are the pillars of our education system. Our focus is to ensure that teachers continue to be well supported and their workload remains sustainable in the long term. We care for their well-being and will continue to work with all stakeholders, including school leaders, parents, and the teacher unions, to support them.
Ministry of Education
15 February 2022