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Advice for family considering Singapore?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by roamingteacher, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    Thanks so much Rebecca for ayour insights - very helpful indeed.
    Anyone else for the outstanding queries - c'mon...don't be shy!
  2. norfolktime

    norfolktime New commenter

    I live in Singapore with a child. It is a fantastic place to raise kids. Safer than home, green spaces and a good standard of living. Expensive at times and for certain things (lamb etc) but managable. Summer all year long so we live a very outdoor lifestyle. We have travelled quite alot already as there are always excellent airfares to be had. Accom very expensive but if you look around you can get something near most schools accom allowances at the moment. It all depends on the housing market at the time. We live in a nice 3bed condo and pay $3000. Jobwise I have really enjoyed working here.
  3. Hey there RT,
    Myself and my husband returned from Singapore last year.We're a mixed couple too! I would strongly suggest that you DON'T work for the MOE!! I'm assuming that you'd like to see your other half and children regularly!! Not if you work for government schools!!! Hours are extremely long and you will have to work weekends.
    As you're both teachers, I would recommend that you look for work in the International School sector. I've worked for international schools before in Asia and had a fantastic experience. The best ones in Singapore with an excellent benefits/salary package are Tanglin Trust and UWC. I know that the latter are looking for an English/drama teacher at the mo! These schools should give you an allowance for your children's education too.
    Childcare is hit and miss.. every nanny/maid is registered by the government and often are very young girls. My Singaporean friends have had nightmares which has resulted in them having to take leave to sort things out but there are brilliant nurseries which are slightly more expensive but more reliable and better level of care.
    Don't bother with a car, public transport is so cheap and very reliable! Taxis work out cheap too for long journeys. I would recommend living on the East Coast as the beach is there so at least you can spend time there.
    If I'm honest I think there are better places for you to go.. could you e-mail me your e-mail add and i can go into more detail!
    Take care [​IMG]

  4. Hi,

    I have just read your posting with great interest. I have a telephone interview with the MOE in 10 days time. I would be going as a single female teacher. I'm already on UPS 1, 9 years teaching esperience plus a managment position in my current UK school so I am not prepared to drop my current salary or status. However, I would like to work overseas.
    Are the MOE really that bad? Can you give me some very direct questions to ask them during the interview? I must admit I have asked them directly about salaries in an email and received an evasive response.
    I'm happy to pass on my email address to you for a personal response. Please reply to this posting.

    Thanks very much.

  5. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    Thanks Phats for your advice. As it now stands, I've accepted a job in Malaysia which I think better suits us so Singapore will be for visits only. And I echo the advice about MOE - avoid, as the pay is dreadful and I haven't heard much good about them form my research. Best of luck though for anyone heading there - I'm sure it really is great for the right people.
  6. I worked for the M O E two years ago. I advise anyone thinking about them to avoid it.
    I have so many thinks to say about the MOE that it might seem farfetched or even fiction. However it is all true. I left in two years ago, after a year of hell. Below are the main reasons why:
    1) The MOE will lie, lie and lie again to get you over there. Then once you are there, lie again. A contract is merely a piece of paper, worth nothing, as they can and will change it whenever it suits. You are not a teacher but a Civil Servant, a Government Officer and therefore bound by the Civil Service Act and treated more like a military officer: expected to follow orders without question and never complain.
    2) They never pay what they say they will. They add bonuses (civil service) which may or may not be paid, to the total. It took six months of emails and calls to get what was legally mine. Plus they withheld a months pay to pay taxes, so they force you to leave the country first, and wait for what is legally yours. Then they take their little cut...Result is you might never get it.
    3) The schools vary. Mine was terribly old fashioned and very much a dictatorship. Staff don't exist except to secure the Principal's bonus. Forget trying to introduce modern ideas (why I was recruited, as a moderniser) the school simply ignored me, then made my life hell forbeing more qualified than the HOD.
    4) Working hours. 0700 to whenever they let you out. Including weekends. Even if your lessons finish before 1300 you will not be allowed to leave the campus.
    5) Vacations: I spent most of the "holidays" in college. It is compulsory and if your HOD orders it, don't argue. CCAs activites will fill up a huge amount of your time, usually evenings and weekends.
    6)Racism, sexism and elitist. All three are there, despite the propaganda. And I was on the recieving end of all three.
    7) No help in finding accommodation. They will expect you to find and arrange this yourself. And it is very expensive, on a par with London. Cost of living is very high (which of course MOE lied about). In fact once you are there, expect no help at all from them, for anything, they simply don't care.
    8) MOE is always desperately short of teachers. Always. Long hours, **** pay, awful management, and worse still, a very backward and old fashoned attitude. Singapore is a communist dictatorship, and treats people accordingly. We had 18 year olds, waiting for results, and those who had completed national service, teaching classes, just to make the numbers up. Primary school hours are 0700 to 1900, secondary is similar.
    9) MOE makes it sound easy to use Singapore as a base for travel. ***. IF you get permission to leave the country (I kid you not, you have to ask for the Prinicipal's and then MOE permission) you have to hope the HOD doesn't put you on a course or drop you into something. Because they can cancel your leave at any time.
    10) It is always your fault. Never the system that stresses the kids to illness or exhaustion. Never the system that is so negative, so spiteful and bureacratic. Never the political interference at all levels. Singapore is perfect, only the people (usually teachers) are failures. And this policy is pursued at all levels...
    11) The kids are exhausted and stressed. The suicide or self harm rate is never published. The most stressed person in my college was the full time counsellor. Says it all!
    12) Your time is MOE time. Your life is MOE owned. If you and your wife both teach, don't expect any compassion, or to be in the same school (they split up two married couples delibrately from my starting group). All emails and computer usage, even private in your apartment, is monitored for any content they deem inappropriate. Your ID number is like a tag and is used on everything. Big Brother is watching you always.
    To summarise: of the teachers from 8 countries who started at the same time, not one of us stayed past a year. If the school gives you a ***** grading, the MOE pays for you to leave the country (it never asks what went wrong, it is always YOUR fault). If you ask to leave, then you forfeit the gratuity and must pay your own way home.
    Although I met some wonderful people, I will never go near the place again. It is a dicatorship, a racist and sexist hellhole and despite the F1 race, a third world country.

    If possible, please seriously reconsider going there. The PAP (the local Peoples Action Party or the communist thugs depending on who is talking) uses the fact that foreign teachers go there to endorse their political stranglehold.
    This is a long rant. But consider this: after I left, the MOE has never provided a reference for anyone. And not even to confirm employment dates. Which means never being able to provide reference for future employement.
    They send very nice emails to lure you in, then once there, you are on your own.
    Please reconsider. As you might have gathered, I am still bitter about it now. And thanks to the no reference policy, I have never been able to teach again. In fact any job is difficult as they simple refuse to respnd to emails or phone calls.
    I am happy to email you, if you need further details, and am glad to be of assistance. Some go there and are very happy. I was not one of them and neither were my fellow colleagues.
  7. Hi RoamingTeacher,
    I wonder if you would be able to reply to my post regarding teaching in Malaysia - see above? I see you ended up there. I'm moving to KL shortly and looking for advice/school recommendations/insights.
    I've just turned down one offer from a school with a 'Fair view' - but they have upped the offer and left it open. There's something about it which makes me unsure and I wondered if you know anything about the school at all?
    Hope everything is going well for you out there!

  8. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    SF - you've got mail but I haven't heard much bad about KL and what negative comments have been made have been vociferously denied by many. I'm not there yet - 2.5 weeks to go YAY!
  9. Tanglin and UWC are the only places worth considering in Singapore.
    My wife is dark skinned and was definitely treated differently to me (white) whilst there.

    I taught at an international school, but, from what I have heard, everything I have read on here about MOE i suspect to be true.
  10. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    Thanks noicey for your post. Although I've accepted a post in Malaysia, it's good to know it was the right choice.
  11. I totally agree with all the points above
  12. I totally agree with all the points above, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES work for the MOE
  13. I went for an interview down in London the other week and have since been offered a one year contract teaching Music for the MOE. Have you got any experiences you would like to share goddessangela? Any more details on why it is so bad. I have always wanted to try teaching abroad but do not want to do it if I'm not going to enjoy. It is a big step to take and want to make sure I am making the right decision.

  14. Hi Hird456
    I was in singapore and worked for the MOE for a year (two years ago). I posted some of my experiences on this thread earlier this year. I did have others but felt that it wouldn'tbe believed.
    It was a big mistake going. The m o e are and always be a terrible 'organisation' to work for.
    Consider these:
    Why is Singapore always so desperate for teachers, at all levels and for all subjects? Why do they need so many foriegn teachers? Because the m o e is such a poor employer, the hours and pay are **** and the contract is worthless. Because the 'system' is perfect, it is always the teacher that is the failure, not the overtired pressurised and brainwashed zombie-like schoolkids. It is the teacher who has to be available 24 hours a day, on a civil service contract that is better suited to North Korea or Cuba. And be aware that all emails will be spied upon (my private ones to family were read out to me by my principal as a warning that anything critical of the school is sufficient for a charge of 'bringing the moe into disrepute' punishable by jail or fines. That was my gmail account they hacked into, and one I never accessed from a school computer but my own laptop in my flat!)
    If you want further info, send me a message and I will give you the full details of my year there. Please, for your own sake, don't go.
  15. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    It would be Fair to say that some schools are worse than others in Malaysia; how much were you offered and how much did they up it to? Let me know cause I'll tell you if that's Fair for the area.
    Malaysia is great, don't listen to disgruntled fairies living at the bottom of the garden.
  16. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    Pm me where you'll be heading. Say hello when you're here. Malaysia is great and most Bill and Bens like it here. Cheaper than Singapore, and the same kind of decent friendly populus.
  17. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    I've currently got an application pending for Singapore, though not MOE. However, an earlier comment about needing permission to leave the country surprised me. Is this just for MOE staff, or is it also the case for international schools?

    I spent 3 weeks over there on business many years ago, but I certainly don't recall any restrictions on travel.
  18. Seems the threads have done their job. I have never been to S'pore - probably never will, but the school mentioned is hopefully now a no go place to those reading.
    Has anyone got the name and address of the Head? I would like to write and tell him what a top chap he is.
  19. Hi David
    It was my comment you read.
    A teacher employed by moe is not actually a 'teacher' but a Civil Servant (the correct title is GEO or General Education Officer). The Civil Service Act applies and therefore, all those employed by moe need permission to leave the country, even for weekends. (It is a bit like an armed forces contract!)
    Supposedly, this does not include Jahore in Malaysia, but in reality staff needed to get permission from HOD, principal then moe (the FTMU for expat teachers). Getting permission was dependent upon whether the HOD or principal granted it! Often they did not for quite trivial or bloodyminded reasons....
    Best avoid moe altogether. As for the internationals/privates, I can't help there, as they had totally different contract systems. Anyway, hope this clarifies things.
  20. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Thanks for that, tubeofglue. I'll most certainly follow the advice about MOE. The school I applied to is an international/private one.

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