NTUC First Campus partners Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to lead the way in uplifting the quality of education leaders and childcare practices through the launch of the first-of-its-kind Early Childhood Education Leadership certificate in the sector


29 June 2020

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More than 400 Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) leaders will benefit from this programme over five years.

NTUC First Campus (NFC) and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) have jointly launched the first-of-its-kind Early Childhood Education Leadership (ECEL) certificate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) sector, and take the lead in uplifting the quality of education leaders and childcare practices. This breakthrough programme places emphasis on both knowledge acquisition as well as ongoing on-the-job application. More than 400 ECCE leaders will benefit from this programme over five years. 

Pre-school professionals who successfully complete this programme will be jointly awarded a Certificate in Early Childhood Education Leadership by NFC and SUSS. With this Certificate, those who aspire to pursue a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with SUSS will be given a credit recognition of 40 credit units from the ECEL. In addition, eligible NFC staff who are taking the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and meet the criteria can apply for another 20 credit units under Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) [1] based on NFC’s Memorandum of Understanding with SUSS in 2018 (link). These 60 out of 130 credit units will enable them to complete the degree with just over half the time needed.

Through this collaboration, NFC and SUSS aim to: 

(i) build strong education leaders by enabling them to construct knowledge through inquiry and apply theory into practice at their workplaces so that they can be exemplary practitioners of key skills that uplift childcare practices in the sector 

(ii) support Early Childhood (EC) leaders in their career progression by providing opportunities for them to broaden their perspectives, deepen knowledge and hone their skills  

This one-year certificate programme achieves these aims by integrating classroom learning with structured workplace learning. It will be open to pre-school professionals who are currently in team leader positions. The first cohort will matriculate on 1 July 2020 and comprise nominated NFC staff who are Deputy Centre Leads (Vice-Principal equivalent) and have fulfilled the admissions requirements by SUSS. They will complete 4 practice-based courses and achieve the learning outcomes over a 12-month on-the-job application. The assessment structure will be purely based on assignments and how they apply what they learn to their own workplace so that they can study while continuing their jobs.

Overview of ECEL

As a leader of a network of childcare centres, NFC drew on its experience and expertise to design this practice-oriented leadership programme. This programme reflects and addresses challenges at childcare centres and strengthens the core competencies that are critical for the holistic development of education leaders. It focuses on growing leaders who are able to drive professional and personal development for themselves and their teams, think interdependently to resolve challenges in the workplace, identify innovative ways to transform and uplift centre practices, and build strong professional competencies– especially in the aspects of curriculum and pedagogical leadership.

The 4 courses are largely co-designed by SUSS and NFC and will be conducted by NFC’s senior leaders who have many years of experience and are well-recognised in the ECCE sector for their contributions. They are designed to empower the leaders with strong knowledge and skills to support children from all backgrounds.

The “Introduction to Pedagogical & Curriculum Leadership” course empowers participants to be strong pedagogical and curricula leaders. The “Quality Assurance for Early Childhood Education Leaders” course inculcates in them the principles, concepts and practices related to centre quality. The “Positive Early Childhood Education” course is an important precondition for fostering growth and learning while the “Supporting Preschool Children with Diverse Needs” course equips participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to support the well-being of children from less advantaged backgrounds.
For more details, please refer to Annex A. 

The courses will be conducted over a twelve-month period via classroom learning and experiential learning. Relevant academic resources will be provided to the participants including access to SUSS’ libraries and online academic resources for them to read, research, have discussions, reflections and evaluations.

While the participants progressively acquire new knowledge from the courses, they will concurrently undergo the on-the-job application over the same 12-month period. This enables them to immediately apply their new knowledge in their work environment. The participants will be mentored by Practice Specialists and Principals who will regularly observe, give them feedback, and explore ways to deepen and sustain the learning initiatives for them to strengthen their professional expertise and quality of their centres. SUSS will also meet the mentors quarterly to ensure the progress of the participants.

NFC and SUSS will be co-designing and co-delivering the on-the-job application aspect of the certificate programme to closely integrate theory and practice as well as co-assessing participants’ performance in their pre-schools.

NTUC First Campus’ CEO, Mr Chan Tee Seng, said: “Through our partnership with SUSS, we hope to combine the rigour and high standards that SUSS brings with strong practice-based application at childcare centres. NFC will invest more than S$3.5 million over 5 years to design and implement this programme with SUSS. Our goal is to empower pre-school professionals to perform their role as pedagogical leaders in their centres.”

SUSS Provost, Prof Tsui Kai Chong, said: “SUSS is glad to be a part of this meaningful collaboration with NTUC First Campus, to provide industry-relevant continuing education for our EC professionals as well as to grow the pool of leadership talent.”

Minister for Education, Mr Ong Ye Kung, said: “SUSS and NTUC First Campus have led the way for the Early Childhood sector by coming up with this breakthrough certificate programme for pre-school professionals – work-learn in nature, and tapping on industry to deliver lessons. This model of partnership, will enrich the offerings and choices for higher education, ranging from pure academics to highly applied and practice-based programmes. It is especially relevant in an industry like early childhood, where the ability to apply the new skills and knowledge in a classroom setting is critical. This is a fundamental aspect of SkillsFuture.”

[1] RPL is a form of assessment that recognises learning and capabilities that a person has acquired outside of formal education, largely through work experience.


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