Trainee teachers who quit have to give one month’s notice
SINGAPORE: Starting this month, trainee teachers will be required to give one month’s notice before resigning.
In lieu of notice, a trainee who decides to quit will be liable to pay back a month’s salary.
Apart from giving the Ministry of Education (MOE) advance notice, the notice period will also serve as a “cooling-off period” for the trainees to carefully think over their decision, according to an email sent on July 31 by the National Institute of Education (NIE) to inform trainees of the new requirement.
The email, which was seen by Channel NewsAsia, said: “This notice period for trainees is critical as prior notice to the employer and as a cooling-off period for trainees to carefully deliberate their decision to leave the course and service with liquidated damages.”
Previously, trainee teachers who decided to quit did not have to give any notice period, according to the 2011/2012 Trainee Teacher Handbook. Nevertheless, they had to pay liquidated damages, comprising the remuneration and tuition fees for their entire course.
In response to Channel NewsAsia’s queries, the MOE explained that the new requirement brings trainee teachers “in line with all public service officers”.
“All MOE employees (including trainee teachers in NIE) are required to serve one month’s notice of resignation,” said an MOE spokesperson.
More than 2,000 teachers graduate from NIE every year. According to the MOE, the total number of teachers here has already surpassed an earlier target of 33,000 by 2015.
When queried about the trainee resignation rate, the MOE spokesperson added that it is less than two per cent annually in the past three years.
School leaders whom Channel NewsAsia spoke to generally agreed that having a notice period would help trainee teachers consider their career choice more carefully.
However, Teck Whye Secondary Principal Ong Kong Hong pointed out that schools would have to manage the situation “carefully” when trainee teachers decide to quit while serving their practicum. “(These trainees) may continue to interact with students while they are serving notice,” he noted.
Nevertheless, Mr Ong said that some trainees who encounter challenges during their practicum might conclude prematurely that teaching is not for them.
The one-month notice period would allow them to enjoy a fuller teaching experience, resulting in a possible change of heart, he said.
Trainee teachers who declined to be named noted that providing one month’s notice is in line with the business practices of most companies. However, some felt it will only prolong the agony of those who have made up their mind to quit.
A former trainee, who quit recently, added: “It might only be beneficial for those who decide to quit on the spur of the moment.”