As Professor Ng puts it: “The way that Singapore has approached these changes matters even more than the changes themselves (2017, p.179).”  Dr Lim Lai Chang at Singapore Management University made the case even more strongly: “It doesn’t matter what your model is, just stick to one and do it well.”  Success is not a result of any one policy: “Every part of the system is integrated and interacts intensely together to develop and implement a coherent and sustainable action plan (Ng, 2017, p.188).”, Singapore’s approach can be interpreted through the ‘control factors’ described in a recent Cambridge Assessment report (2017). Holdsworth: In your opinion, how does a principal’s job in the US differ from a principal’s job in Singapore? Holdsworth: Singapore students rank highly on global assessments. Education in Singapore: 8) Which policies can England borrow? Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Singapore’s Education System To Go Through Major Restructuring. How has this been achieved? Ng: I’d say dealing with different demands from different stakeholders. Perhaps individual teachers have had to give up something too, in order to ensure that every student receives consistently effective teaching. They should not simply follow a top-down approach to education reforms. Some 30% o less academically inclined students take vocational and technical subjects, and schools build close links to institutes o technical education and polytechnics. We’re also opening more pathways for students to find success in their own way. As a result, principals in Singapore work more in a “centralized decentralization” paradigm, an approach that aims to achieve “strategic alignment, tactical empowerment.”. Required fields are marked *. But visits to other countries have left me in awe of a lesson, a school or a training approach. Holdsworth: How do you go about changing the culture of an entire system to reach those new goals? Good teachers are the pillars of a good education system, which develops the citizens and workforce of the country. Professor Ng compares the chance of being taught occasionally by a maverick genius as in Dead Poets Society with Singapore’s approach: Singapore “does not leave it to chance whether children meet a caring teacher (Ng, 2017, p.144-5).”  A well-functioning system need not rely on a few inspired, heroic, Stakhanovite teachers and leaders. Conversely, the report offers Singapore as an example of the “conscious pursuit of ‘coherence’ across control factors (Cambridge Assessment, 2017, p.30).”. My final post discusses what England can learn from Singapore; this post begins that by underscoring the need to: Previous posts in this series: How have you worked to expand on that success? No single thing in Singapore left me thinking: ‘We have to do that’. They test very well. Education in Singapore: 6) ‘The best trained teachers in the world’. Once there, they design excellent curricula and effective support for teachers: this creates a virtuous cycle; good support and leadership attracts and retains teachers, and so on. But essentially, this is our step-by-step process to changing the culture: Holdsworth: What are the strengths of the education system in the US? Ng: In Singapore, it’s quite clear that the principal is both the head of the school and a member of the leadership fraternity that leads the entire school system. Education in Singapore: 1) Making sense of Singapore’s priorities I returned from Singapore with few anecdotes about methods we should adopt in schools or classrooms immediately, but in awe at the coherence and alignment of the education system and the effects it has had. In recent years, Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) has also announced several changes to the education system for primary and secondary school students. Holdsworth: Without extra funding, what’s one thing the US could do to improve its education system? Principals are pulled in so many directions and they are faced with very tough decisions if they want to ensure the best education for their students. Build greater consensus about the purposes of education. When the going gets tough, the tough will have what it takes to get going! Consider all the control factors in planning change. It is more than filling a vessel with knowledge—it is to light a fire in our young people. Educational reform in Singapore: from quantity to quality. So, if there is no secret ingredient, what is the secret of Singapore’s success? This is what Singapore is constantly changing to become – an excellent system of schools for all, not a system with some excellent schools for a few (Ng, 2017, p.188).”, In this, Singapore has been successful – but a tightly aligned system incurs costs too. A Cambridge Approach to improving education: Using international insights to manage complexity, NCEE (2016). Education in Singapore: 3) Why do students like school? Singapore had created a system of ‘high averages’ with high levels of post-secondary participation in further training and education. Singapore’s Education Reforms Singapore’s education system has been much lauded for its achievements in ... and improve teaching and learning in the areas tested. Moreover, teachers, academics, teacher educators and policy-makers know one another, having all progressed within the same, small system.