MOE teacher backs Leon Perera’s suggestion that cutting class sizes can benefit students

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A Ministry of Education teacher, Eugene Ng Ming Teck, is one among several others online who has expressed support for Workers’ Party (WP) member Leon Perera’s suggestion that cutting class sizes can benefit students.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (7 Nov), the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) had cited studies showing how smaller class sizes could improve grades and student development and said:

“Smaller classes may help level the playing field and enhance equality of opportunity for students from disadvantaged families.”

Perera also called on the MOE to conduct a trial to find out whether slashing class sizes would have a positive impact on students’ results.

Besides this, Perera noted Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng comments in a previous parliamentary exchange on the same issue that smaller class sizes can be found in situations like remedial classes.

The WP member opined that attending remedial classes may stigmatise lower-performing students and affect their self-confidence, besides eating into students’ free time.

Ng Chee Meng responded:

“It is teachers and how they teach that makes a critical difference, not just the class size. We should not fixate on a single dimension of success in education.”

He added that MOE invests in teacher quality, which is the most decisive factor in educational outcomes, according to him: “Instead of reducing class sizes across the board, schools deploy teachers flexibly into smaller sizes for students who need the extra support.”

The MOE teacher, Mr Eugene, acknowledged that while the way a teacher delivers a lesson makes a difference in improving educational outcomes, “any teacher from the most capable to the least’ would agree that a smaller class size would help.

Outlining several reasons why having smaller class sizes would improve educational outcomes, Mr Eugene backed Perera’s suggestion and called for the government to halve class sizes.

He added that this would help Singapore rely less on a tuition classroom model, as well.

Netizens responding to the teacher’s post predominantly agreed with him:

Trevor Chan You also need to look at the type of students you have in the class, smaller class size just means higher chance of having lesser problematic kids to work with.

Lionel Fah I feel for this. My kids have benefitted from a smaller class size. In the U.K. and their current international school, the number of teachers to students is 1:12 in a class, I think it is wrong to “quantify” the success of teaching to exam results of kids. So, to even attempt to correlate the 2 together is a distraction to what education is about. I want my teachers to engage my children and stimulate them intellectually, develop their character and a positive mindset to what may come their way in the new world. Results is not the aim… agree with you totally Eugene Ng Ming Teck

Ahmad Matin They can implement this now as it is an opportune time. The merging of schools means that the problem of not having enough physical classes is not an issue. The reduction of intake for trainee teachers means that they could have not cut the intake and proceed to have smaller classes. But MOE still does not want to take this opportunity and insists on looking at teacher to student ratios.

One netizen offered an alternative viewpoint:

Melvin Cty: Having a smaller class size would certainly bring about some benefits at a class level. But at a systems level, it means having to hire more teachers which means we either have to pull talent away from another sector or we will need to lower the quality of teachers hired. Both ways of augmenting the teaching force have wider implications.

Mr Eugene responded:

“I think there is a run-on effect. A smaller size classroom leading to a more enlightened workforce could augment the entire economy. It also means more will want to teach. 

“Somehow I feel we going about it abit chicken and egg. Not sure where to start or how to do it. So better stick to tried and tested. But I thought the Teachers deserve to be heard on this issue.”

Read Mr Eugene’s full post here:

“It is teachers and how they teach that makes a critical difference, not just the class size.”
– EDUCATION MINISTER (SCHOOLS) NG CHEE MENG

I’m a teacher. I agree it’s not just class size but how a teacher delivers the lesson.

BUT ask any teacher from the most capable to the least and they would tell you a smaller sized class would:-

1. greatly facilitate learning
2. foster greater bond in teacher-student-peer relationships
3. deepen the depth or widen the scope of what can be taught
4. increase engagement between teacher and EACH student 
5. facilitate better classroom management
6. provide that little bit more space and time…just that little bit more…

To say that research is inconclusive on classroom size producing better results is in itself inconclusive.

Why not work towards an ideal? 
Why not be the change the world can see? 
If it was inconclusive why did MOE reduce P1 and P2 class sizes from 40 to 30 about 7 years ago? 
Why base on research when you can just talk to any teacher and they more or less would tell you:

“Yes! A smaller size class would help!”

How about a quick research data:-
Typical Singapore Primary class size : 35-42
Typical Singapore Tuition class size : 5-12

So why don’t we halve the SG School classroom and hopefully rely less on the tuition classroom?

There is always an ideal we can be.

"It is teachers and how they teach that makes a critical difference, not just the class size."- EDUCATION MINISTER…

Posted by Eugene Ng Ming Teck on Tuesday, 7 November 2017

75 COMMENTS

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    Ng Chee Meng you lousy army general stop talking rubbish. You clearly have no idea about teaching. More than 50 years ago smaller class sizes was already advocated. Till today nothing’s changed . PAP ministers like Ng Chee Meng are clearly useless appointments.
    A waste of money.

    Let me ask him why are tutorial classes in the university so small not in hundreds as in lectures?

    No wonder our education system produces so many idiotic people like him.

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    AS I SAID BEFORE, IF DAFT SG CAN VOTE FOR THE ROTTON PAP GOVT FOR SO MANY DECADES, IT SHOWS THESE DAFT SG MUST HV “LIKED” THE ROTTON PAP IN EVERY ASPECTS INCL THEIR SHIT CHARACTERS

    THEN, IS THERE A NEED TO SEND THEIR CHILDREN TO SCHOOLS FOR EDUCATION AND TO BE STRESSED OUT?

    SIMPLY LEARN FROM THE ROTTON GOVT DIRECT BASED ON THEIR EXAMPLES, SUCH AS HOW TO CURRY FAVOUR BOSSES, HOW TO CHARACTER ASSASSINATE OTHERS, TELL LIES TO FOOL AND CHEAT OTHERS, ETC.

    ROTTON PAP IS THEIR “DIRECT” TEACHERS!! NO NEED TO GO TO SCHOOLS AT ALL. STAY AT HOME AND LEARN FROM DIRECT EXAMPLES.

    BY LEARNING DIRECTLY FROM ROTTON GOVT STILL CAN SAVE UP THEIR TIME, ENERGY, MONIES ON EDUCATION, LESS PRESSURE ON THEIR CHILDREN, ETC.

    I HV NO INTEREST IN THE ROTTON PAP EDUCATION – ONLY PROPAGANDA.

    I ONLY INTERESTED IN PM JOB TO REPLACE LHL. THIS IS THE ONLY POSITION WITH NECESSARY POWER TO MAKE CHANGES IN SG.

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      Ya but the PM boh chap. Look at the performance of the MOT and CEO of SMRT. They create massive massive problems to millions of commuters daily but they still get to keep their jobs and get pay rise . All at our expense. Yet 70% are happy with that. If LKY were the PM they would have been dressed down in parliament and sacked long long ago. We suffered for 5 long years and still continue to suffer.
      What kind of people has the education system produced?
      We have huge classes which produced 70% unthinking sheep all consumed by propaganda.

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    The current teacher:students ratio is way too lop-sided and it’s no wonder that some parents cited that the ‘real’ learning takes place outside school, especially when teachers are running the m dash daily with the avalanche of assignments, projects as well as deadlines in every marathon academic year.

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    If based on NCM’s logic, than we can deploy the bestest nurse to look after 40 patients in ICU lah?!!! Have some compassion for teachers and students. It shows again that if one doesn’t fully understand the value of education and learning, and cannot engage in open dialogue that is mutually respectful (be it with workers party or just the people he or she serves), one’s outlook of things is so myopic.

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    The call for smaller size classes has been going on for decades. The top fellas in MOE are either deaf or don’t care, or both. Besides that, teachers are bogged down with so much work load that leaves them with very little time to do what they are suppose to do in the first place….TEACH!!!

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    “Ng Chee Meng comments in a previous parliamentary exchange on the same issue that smaller class sizes can be found in situations like remedial classes.”

    Typical asinine reply from the Yes men, Its like saying when the shit hits the ceiling we always have remedial classes. Same approach with train issues, health issues, immigration issues, security issues etc etc.These overpaid buffoons don’t even think anymore! WTF!!!!

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    Singapore has great curriculums and teachers. But teachers are stressed out with the mountains of papers to mark and too much admin duties! This hampers their efficiency and dampens their passion as their main role is to teach and INSPIRE. If we have uninspired teachers, we will end up with soul-less students. Thus this makes our workforce having no motivation to excel. MOE, please do not downgrade this teacher. He knows the system’s faults and is an inspiring role model for other teachers and his students to speak up for what is right despite knowing the possible consequences.

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    #MOE’s argument trying to qualify their insistence on huge teacher to student ratios (reality is 1:40/42 for primary schools) does not hold water. Their rationale is that quality teacher matters (more than class ratios).

    Dear overpaid policy makers at MOE: have you tried making a very good and edible cake with VERY GOOD, VERY HIGH QUALITY BUTTER, but with just a knob on a recipe that asks for 250 grams of it?

    Good luck on your cake.

    #Singapore #MinistryOfEducation #ridiculous #WhyTeachersQuit #Rubbish

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    Any teacher would agree smaller class is better. When a class is smaller, each children has more individual time with teachers, or a teacher have more capacity to pay more attention to each child, and help them and guide them better with whatever they cant understand or weak at in the subject taught, hence increase their understanding better, and in turn create better grades. And perhap lesser kids needing remedial. Its common sense. It even more perplexing how an education minister for school could not see this as an issue and still be in denial when alot or majority of teachers who have first hand experience prolly agree its an issue.

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    You all must have the knowledges that Singapore need more citizens come forward n join the the MOE as teachers are shot supply n many tetired teachers were called back n teach the children temperarily untill the permenant ones are employed.Those temperary teachers are paid handsomely by MOE until such times when the permanent teachers are employed.Without those temperary teachers our country will be doomed.So you all understand the current situation of MOE delima.Tks

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    Teacher to students ratio not impt, Rubbish! He himself was a quality “PAPER” general, why didn’t he lead the whole army by himself then,….why is there a need for 1 Sect Comd : 7 Soilders, 3 SC per platoon, 1 PS : 1 PL, etc….must as well 1 scholar lead 1 whole Bn.

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    This bloody ‘general cleaner’ should not even be in this ministry. Parents and teachers know better than this clown. When feedback is given to these buggers, they’re always on a defensive. It’s time, no ‘generals’ be put in government positions. They know nuts sadly