Sie sind auf Seite 1von 15

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education

Mentoring and coaching educators in the Singapore education system

Pak Tee Ng,
Article information:
To cite this document:
Pak Tee Ng, (2012) "Mentoring and coaching educators in the Singapore education system",
International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 1 Issue: 1, pp.24-35, https://
Permanent link to this document:
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

Downloaded on: 04 October 2017, At: 22:47 (PT)

References: this document contains references to 60 other documents.
To copy this document:
The fulltext of this document has been downloaded 1484 times since 2012*
Users who downloaded this article also downloaded:
(2013),"Coaching and mentoring for self-efficacious leadership in schools", International
Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 2 Iss 1 pp. 47-63 <a href="https://"></a>
(2014),"Mentors as educational leaders and change agents", International Journal of
Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 3 Iss 1 pp. 18-31 <a href="

Access to this document was granted through an Emerald subscription provided by emerald-srm:608971 []
For Authors
If you would like to write for this, or any other Emerald publication, then please use our Emerald for
Authors service information about how to choose which publication to write for and submission guidelines
are available for all. Please visit for more information.
About Emerald
Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company
manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,350 books and book series volumes, as well as
providing an extensive range of online products and additional customer resources and services.
Emerald is both COUNTER 4 and TRANSFER compliant. The organization is a partner of the Committee
on Publication Ethics (COPE) and also works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive

*Related content and download information correct at time of download.

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

Mentoring and coaching
educators in the Singapore
education system
24 Pak Tee Ng
Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Learning,
National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the practice of mentoring and coaching in the
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

Singapore education system, to show the difference in philosophy in which these two concepts have
been applied and to discuss the issues and challenges involved in their implementation.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper reviews the mentoring and coaching systems in
Singapore through literature review and a critical analysis of the mentoring and coaching philosophies
and schemes for the different levels of educators.
Findings – This paper shows that mentoring and coaching are implemented in many areas of
the professional development of educators in Singapore. These include mentoring for trainee
teachers, beginning teachers, training school leaders and beginning school leaders; and coaching
in the performance management system of all teachers and school leaders. However, there are
inherent tensions in having an appraisal connotation in some mentoring and coaching platforms
in Singapore and in encouraging critical reflective learning and innovation in mentoring and
Research limitations/implications – As this paper is based on literature review and analysis, it
recommends empirical research around mentoring and coaching in Singapore. In particular, it
recommends research in examining the impact of particular mentoring and coaching schemes within
different contexts and the experiences of the participants in such schemes. It also recommends
research to address the questions of whether there will be enough coaches and mentors to meet the
emerging demand for mentoring and coaching in schools, as they struggle with their multiple roles in
school; and whether the mentoring and coaching system in Singapore is too formalized to encourage
Practical implications – This paper encourages practitioners to reflect on the inherent tensions in
having an appraisal connotation in some mentoring and coaching platforms in Singapore and to
embrace critical reflective learning and innovation in mentoring and coaching.
Originality/value – This paper is one of the few papers (and the most current) that review the
mentoring and coaching systems in Singapore. It forms a basis for future empirical research in this
Keywords Singapore, Teachers, Mentoring, Coaching, School leadership, Appraisal
Paper type Research paper

Mentoring and coaching are important concepts in the professional development of
educators. However, there are many definitions of each term and each term is
sometimes confused with the other. Between them, there are many areas of overlap or
International Journal of Mentoring similarities in both concept and practice. They are sometimes used interchangeably
and Coaching in Education
Vol. 1 No. 1, 2012
and at other times used together as a “unified package”. This paper examines the
pp. 24-35 practice of mentoring and coaching in the Singapore education system, showing the
r Emerald Group Publishing Limited
difference in philosophy in which these two concepts have been applied and discussing
DOI 10.1108/20466851211231602 the issues and challenges involved in their implementation.
Literature review: mentoring and coaching in education Mentoring and
In general, both mentoring and coaching are professional development practices coaching in
involving one professional helping another in a mutually enriching manner (e.g.
Anderson and Shannon, 1988; Clutterbuck and Ragins, 2002; Ng, 2005) to foster Singapore
learning and development based on an established relationship, premised on mutual
trust, respect and openness (Orland-Barak and Yinon, 2005; Timperley, 2001; Jeruchim
and Shapiro, 1992; Stowers and Barker, 2010). In actual practice situations, Douglas 25
(1997, p. 83) observes that “although the mentoring/coaching process varies in different
organizations and across different relationships, it typically involves a relationship in
which an experienced manager provides help, advice, and sponsorship to a junior
manager”. Properly implemented, mentoring/coaching can have a positive impact on
the performance and well-being of educators (e.g. Ng, 2005; Onchwari and Keengwe,
2008; Tolhurst, 2010).
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

Ng (2005) takes the position that although both concepts are very similar and are
underpinned by professional learning, there is a slight difference in emphasis.
Coaching is more concerned with learning for performance and takes a short- to
medium-term perspective. Mentoring is more concerned with learning for professional
growth and takes a medium- to long-term perspective. The skills, techniques and tools
are similar. When one professional helps another, he or she may play the role of coach
and mentor at the same time, shifting in emphasis depending on developing situation.
For example, if a department head is helping a junior teacher with classroom
management, he or she is adopting a coaching stance to help this junior teacher
improve immediate performance. If this department head is asking the same junior
teacher to reflect on his plans for professional development, this department head is
adopting a mentoring stance to help this junior teacher in his longer-term growth. This
aligns quite well with Yariv’s (2009) position on the main distinction between coaching
and mentoring – coaching is where one primarily aides another in task-specific
improvements through reflective enquiries and guided instructions for the benefit of
the one being coached; mentoring involves advice-giving and mind-set conditioning.
From this angle, mentoring then is considered a broader concept than coaching,
since the emphasis of coaching is on job-specific tasks for improvement of skills and
performance (Simkins et al., 2006). However, while it is possible to position mentoring
as a broader concept, with coaching positioned as a tool for improving immediate
performance, it is also possible to position coaching as a more immediate concept, with
mentoring as a logical extension for long-term growth. This paper uses the term
“mentoring/coaching” (M/C) when the concepts are used together and the terms
“mentoring” and “coaching” individually when it is necessary to split them for
discussion. There are a few salient points of M/C to note that are relevant to our
subsequent discussion, namely:
. M/C should not be considered as a panacea for all problems in an organisation;
. M/C is effective provided the mentee/coachee is willing to learn;
. M/C applies to all levels of personnel, not just classroom teachers; and
. M/C is not just about imparting knowledge and skills, but also about gaining
organisational awareness and enhancing psychosocial well-ness.
First, M/C should not be considered as a panacea for all problems in an organisation.
In particular, M/C should not be “applied as a solution in a problem department or to a
IJMCE problem employee nor solely as an orientation activity” (Donnelly and McSweeney,
1,1 2011, p. 271). There is a lot more to making the M/C relationship work but some
organisations assign staff to one another “with the assumption that a common
workplace will be enough to make the relationship work” (Donnelly and McSweeney,
2011, p. 271). It is also true that M/C can emerge organically without being part of a
structured programme (Carter and Francis, 2001). Through the case study they
26 conducted, Carter and Francis (2001) observed that mentoring relationships, although
not formally designated by the school, emerged among beginning teachers and non-
beginning teachers who were teaching and collaborating on similar subject areas.
Furthermore, with the aim of providing “guidance mixed with professional space”
(Carter and Francis, 2001, p. 255), the kind of mentoring relationships that developed
over the course of the year were characterised by strong mutual respect and
commitment. The beginning teachers in the study attributed their survival and success
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

in their first year of teaching to such mentoring relationship traits.

Second, for M/C to be effective, the mentee/coachee must be willing to learn. The
learner’s acceptance of responsibility for his or her own progress is the key to the M/C
process (Ng, 2005; Tolhurst, 2010). According to Ng (2005), having good mentors/
coaches satisfies only half the equation. The other half of the equation to make the
process fruitful for both parties is to have responsible and self-motivated learners.
A good learner is intrinsically motivated and not driven by an external party. He or she
is an active participant in the M/C process of learning and is always “present”.
Mentees/coachees who merely depend on their mentors/coaches to “dispense wisdom”
and tell them what to do are not going very far. A positive attitude on both sides is a
key ingredient to successful M/C.
Third, M/C applies to all levels of personnel, not just classroom teachers. Leaders
benefit from M/C. Robertson (2009) suggests that approaching leadership in a
synergistic and trusting partnership in M/C nurtures in organisations a culture that is
open to challenges and change. The concept of partnership implies “entering the
relationship as an equal learner” and that it “requires a willingness to listen, to change
and adapt, and to connect and engage others in the learning journey” (Robertson, 2009,
p. 40). This will involve a number of different leadership development tools to maximise
effectiveness (Blackman, 2010). Moreover, M/C is not restricted to an experienced person
helping an inexperienced one. In particular, peer M/C can be a very effective tool for
professional development (e.g. Ng, 2005; Rhodes and Beneicke, 2002; Le Cornu, 2005).
Fourth, M/C is not just about imparting knowledge and skills. In a person’s
professional development, M/C actually helps him gain organisational awareness (e.g.
how the organisation operates culturally and politically) and psychosocial well-ness
(e.g. personal support, professional identity, role-modelling) (Beech and Brockbank,
1999). This helps him make significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking
(Clutterbuck and Megginson, 1999). Moreover, through role-modelling, the mentor/
coach affects the attitudes and beliefs of the mentee/coachee (Ng, 2005).

Mentoring and coaching are practised in the Singapore education system as part of the
professional development of educators. This paper is guided by the following research
. What are the platforms for the practice of mentoring and coaching in the
Singapore education system?
. What are the differences in philosophy in which these two concepts have been Mentoring and
applied? coaching in
The next two sections examine and present the platforms of mentoring and coaching in Singapore
the Singapore education system. Mentoring and coaching are separately examined to
show the differences in philosophy in which these two concepts have been applied. The
examination involves a review and critical analysis of published academic papers and
key government statements and documents on the policies and practices of mentoring 27
and coaching. The major findings are now presented in the next two sections.

Findings: mentoring in the Singapore education system

The Ministry of Education (MOE) in Singapore has used mentoring for many years as
a key means of developing pre-service, beginning and experienced teachers
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

professionally. Mentoring is also a powerful means of learning in school leadership

development (e.g. Bush and Chew, 1999; Chong et al., 1993). In the earlier years of the
1980s, the rationale for mentoring was that the mentoring relationship “proliferates
organisational norms and culture, ensures hard-learned knowledge and skill are
transferred to younger colleagues, improves the overall performance of the work
group, and provides a steady supply of trained personnel” (Chong et al., 1990, p. 21).
However, more recently, the nature of mentoring changed to a more collaborative and
mutually beneficial approach between mentor and mentee, as Lim (2007) elucidates:
Mentoring traditionally serves as education of the less learned from the more learned. The
Singapore experience reveals that it has since extended beyond such confines to co-creating
knowledge in learning relationships that have features of friendship, collaboration and
mutual learning (p. 435).
There are currently various platforms for mentoring in the Singapore education system.
These platforms address mentoring needs of pre-service teachers, in-service teachers
and school leaders. Mentoring is included in programmes offered by the National
Institute of Education (NIE), which is an autonomous institute within the Nanyang
Technological University where all teachers in Singapore are trained. Mentoring is also
included in school-based programmes, initiated by the MOE. This paper now discusses
how mentoring is practised in the professional development of educators in Singapore,
using the following categories of educators as illustrations: pre-service teachers,
beginning teachers, school leaders in training and beginning principals.

Pre-service teachers
Pre-service teacher education in Singapore is based on an “Enhanced Partnership
Model” (NIE, 2009, p. 40) characterised by the tripartite relationship between NIE,
MOE and Singapore schools. These three stakeholders work closely along the whole
continuum of teacher education. This model taps on the proven strengths of NIE’s
university-based approach while emphasising a close collaboration with MOE and
schools, in order to strengthen the theory-practice link. It also specifies accountabilities
for each stakeholder, which may be more prominently weighted at different points in
the teacher education continuum, starting from initial teacher training to the early
stages of a teacher’s career and further in their professional development (NIE, 2009).
An integral part of the pre-service programme is the practicum, where trainee teachers
practise their teaching at schools over a ten-week period on average. Mentoring is critical
to the success of the practicum. Each trainee teacher is assigned a cooperating teacher
(CT), who is the mentor and whose class the trainee teacher will teach. The CT also
IJMCE inducts the trainee teacher into the school at the beginning of practicum, sets expectations
1,1 for professional behaviour and guides the trainee teacher in improving his or her teaching.
Because each school in Singapore usually takes in a number of trainee teachers each
time, the school actually appoints a School Coordinating Mentor (SCM) to oversee the
mentoring process for all the trainee teachers in the school. As group mentors, SCMs
are expected to establish rapport, provide encouragement and support the trainee
28 teachers in their professional development. An integral part of the mentoring process
is to provide support for the trainee teachers and this involves constant communication
with the trainee teachers to share, discuss and help resolve personal and professional
concerns. The SCMs also act as the liaison persons between NIE and the school. These
SCMs work closely with the CTs to monitor the progress of the trainee teachers and
immediately address emerging concerns and issues between the CT and the trainee
teachers, coaching and mentoring both the CT and the trainee teachers in the process.
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

This is an interesting feature of the mentoring process for trainee teachers.

To prepare the mentors and strengthen the theory-practice nexus, the Structured
Mentorship Preparation Programme by the NIE has a staged developmental feature
that builds the mentoring competencies of the SCMs, addressed in stages to match the
corresponding needs of the trainee teachers. This includes (NIE, 2009, p. 67):
. familiarisation with NIE programmes, including terminology and concepts
derived from educational research;
. helping SCMs make explicit their implicit understand of their own practice, and
reflecting on the adequacy of those understandings;
. mentoring skills;
. organising and facilitating learning community discussions, e.g. Professional
Learning Inquiry Sessions and Professional Learning Communities; and
. scaffolding of classroom observation and feedback techniques.
Beginning teachers
After the pre-service teacher education at NIE, the MOE provides the Structured
Mentoring Programme (SMP) for beginning teachers the moment they start work in a
local school. Literature has shown the importance of mentoring to the learning of
beginning teachers (e.g. Carter and Francis, 2001). Launched in 2006, the SMP aims to
provide systematic guidance and support for beginning teachers, by providing
continuous training in different areas of teaching such as basic counselling, classroom
management, reflective practice, student assessment and parent-teacher rapport.
In this two-year programme, beginning teachers attend six core-learning components
that are practice-oriented follow-ups from their pre-service teacher education. They
also attend yearly dialogue sessions, around April and September, organised at the
zone or cluster levels. Experienced teachers who serve as mentors are provided with a
training programme from MOE to equip them with mentoring skills. To provide a
platform for mentors to network for mutual learning and support, professional sharing
and learning sessions are organised regularly by the MOE.

School leaders in training

School leadership is a critical factor for successful school reforms (Sergiovanni, 1996;
Leithwood, 1998; Sergiovanni, 2000; Leithwood et al., 2008). Therefore, in Singapore, a
lot of attention is paid to groom school principals who can competently lead schools
and reform them. In particular, the Leaders in Education Programme (LEP) at the NIE Mentoring and
is a milestone programme that prepares selected education officers for principalship in coaching in
schools (Ng, 2008a).
One key learning platform in the LEP is mentoring. Each participant of the Singapore
programme is assigned to a suitable principal, addressed as the “principal mentor”, for
mentoring. The underlying principle behind this is that “as what good principals know
and practice is largely tacit, the LEP includes individual mentoring of participants by a 29
suitably assigned principal. The transmission of values from experienced school
leaders to aspiring leaders is fundamental as schools are given more autonomy to
make decisions in complex situations” (LEP, 2011, p. 10).
The principal mentor also hosts the LEP participant’s Creative Action Project (CAP),
an important project undertaken by the participant as part of the programme. The
purpose of the CAP in the principal mentor’s school is to give the participant an
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

opportunity to propose and work on a value-adding change in a school. As part of the

project, the LEP participant is required to reflect on the implementation challenges of the
project. This project offers a platform for starting fruitful and reflective conversations
between the principal mentor and the LEP participant, although mentoring goes beyond
the confines of the project to embrace a much more holistic scope.

Beginning school principals

Beginning principals face many challenges and issues (Shoho and Barnett, 2010;
Walker and Qian, 2006) and need help from their established counterparts in finding
their footing in the first year of principalship. The Academy of Principals (APS) in
Singapore provides such a mentorship scheme in collaboration with the MOE.
Launched in March 2007, the scheme is a one-year mentoring programme that aims to
provide support to these beginning principals through a close relationship with
experienced ones. The APS (2006) expounds:
Under this scheme, new principals will have the opportunity to learn from and establish close
rapport with experienced principals, benefiting from professional as well as psychological
support during their first year in office. The mentoring scheme is designed such that new
principals will be given the choice to work with their preferred mentors; and the mentor-
mentee pairing is free to determine the partnership model, including the frequency and form
of interaction between the parties.
The APS further clarifies that the mentoring scheme also allows principals to take
ownership in “grooming their peers, facilitating an active transfer of valued tacit
knowledge of school management” (APS, 2006).
Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was then the education minister, explained the
complementing roles of the mentoring done in the LEP and the APS Mentorship
Scheme in the continuing professional development of school leaders in Singapore:
New Principals, no matter how well educated and how well trained during the Leaders in
Education Programme (LEP), will rarely achieve the same instinctive feel for doing their jobs
as more experienced Principals. But we can certainly shorten the runway and help them take
flight with confidence as leaders in education. We can do so by leveraging on the tacit
knowledge and expertise of our school leaders and building communities of practice that
encourage transfer of this knowledge (Tharman, 2007).
Through the APS Mentorship Scheme, the quality of school leaders across the system
will be enhanced because the process of mentoring will enrich both the new leaders and
the established ones (Tharman, 2007).
IJMCE Findings: coaching in the Singapore education system
1,1 According to Yariv (2009), the main distinction between coaching and mentoring is
that coaching involves mainly task-specific improvements while mentoring involves
advice-giving and mind-set conditioning. According to Ng (2005), coaching is more
concerned with learning for performance and takes a short- to medium-term
perspective; while mentoring is more concerned with learning for professional growth
30 and takes a medium- to long-term perspective. The main platform in the Singapore
education system for the practice of coaching is in the Enhanced Performance
Management System (EPMS).
The EPMS, which was introduced in 2003, is a competency-based performance
management system that serves both as the performance appraisal system for all
education officers in Singapore as well a developmental structure that facilitates their
professional learning in support of their performance. There are three stages to the
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

process: performance planning, performance coaching and performance evaluation

(MOE, 2005).
During performance planning, teachers set professional development goals at the
start of the year. This goal setting is done with his or her reporting officer, often the
head of department. In performance coaching, the teacher meets his or her reporting
officer periodically throughout the year to review performance and discuss progress.
Here, the emphasis is on the provision of feedback and support for performance
improvement. While most sessions can be done informally, there is a formal mid-year
review where proper documentation is a requirement. During performance evaluation,
conducted at the end of the year, the reporting officer formally appraises the teacher by
systematically crosschecking actual performance against performance goals set by the
teacher in the beginning of year. Feedback for improvement is also given.
The performance evaluation process of the EPMS determines the teacher’s
performance and therefore performance bonus for the year. It also determines the
“current estimated potential (CEP)” of the teacher, which is the basis for promotion of
the teacher to the next level (Lee and Tan, 2010). According to Minister Tharman
To sustain a high performance culture in any knowledge-based profession, we also need a
robust and fair system of appraisal and performance management. Teachers who have done
well have to be duly recognised and rewarded, while those who need help to improve their
performance should be coached by their supervisors [y]. We are moving along the right
track. In fact the idea of performance-based pay to recognize teachers for good performance is
now gaining support internationally. In the United States for example, several school districts
in cities such as Denver, Dallas and Houston have introduced performance-based salary
structures and performance bonuses for their teachers. The United Kingdom too also
implemented a performance-related pay policy, where teachers who passed defined
performance thresholds could look forward to progressing to a higher pay scale.

Discussion: issues and challenges for mentoring and coaching in Singapore

While literature has pointed out the benefits of mentoring and coaching, there are
many challenges when it comes to their actual practices (e.g. Young et al., 2005;
Bullough and Draper, 2004). Of course, there are the conventional problems of whether
there are enough experienced educators to perform that role for other educators, and
whether busy teachers have time for coaching and mentoring others. But these are
technical problems. This concluding section examines some inherent tensions
regarding the nature of M/C in Singapore.
First, there is a tension between the developmental and appraisal nature of M/C in Mentoring and
Singapore. Theoretically, M/C is premised on a developmental philosophy, rather than coaching in
an appraisal philosophy. However, in Singapore, because coaching is used in the critical
area of appraisal linked to remuneration and career advancement, M/C has an Singapore
unintentional appraisal connotation. There is tension reconciling the two (Ng, 2005).
From a learning angle, M/C emphasises formative assessment (assessment for learning)
but appraisal emphasises summative assessment (assessment on learning), and both 31
are often in conflict with each other (Black and Wiliam, 2003; James et al., 2007).
Formative assessment involves feedback that leads to professional growth (Smith and
Tillema, 2003) and aligns to personal goals (Zimmerman, 2000). Summative assessment,
on the other hand, documents and appraises work performance to measure learning
that has already taken place, often externally initiated or mandated (Tillema et al.,
2011). Certain researchers point out the incompatibility of the developmental and
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

evaluative use of performance appraisal (Longenecker et al., 1987; Murphy and

Cleveland, 1995). In fact, if remuneration considerations (e.g. performance bonus) also
enter into the equation, a person may not always receive accurate feedback regarding
his or her strengths and developmental needs (Harvey, 1995; McNerney, 1995).
In the EPMS, an officer is both coach and reporting officer. From the coachee’s
perspective, there is a dilemma of whether one should allow oneself to show one’s
learning weaknesses knowing that the coach/reporting officer will eventually have to
assess one’s achievement. From a coach’s perspective, there is a tension of how
“accurate” one’s feedback could be given that performance systems tied to rewards
have a norm-referenced rather than criteria-referenced ranking element. Herein lies the
tension – whether formative and summative assessments can coexist and be used “to
scaffold a meaningful appraisal for growth and the attainment of teaching
competence” (Tillema et al., 2011, p. 142).
So, if appraisal is involved in the M/C process, it changes the dynamics and nature
of the M/C relationship. To be fair and transparent, it is important to disclose the role of
appraisals in the M/C process and have a shared understanding of this (e.g. Tillema
et al., 2011). However, this then requires both sides to develop a trust for each other and
a belief in the fairness of the system. But it takes time to cement that trust in a coaching
or mentoring relationship (e.g. Lim, 2005; Ng, 2005; Robertson, 2009). Without trust, the
process of M/C then simply becomes a task to complete an appraisal form and to meet
external demands that are outcome-oriented and rewards-motivated. Then the
“appraisal-reward” nature of the M/C schemes may compromise the intrinsic
developmental process involved in the teachers’ and school leaders’ professional
growth. Furthermore, an “appraisal-reward” connotation may compromise the honesty
and veracity of the whole M/C process.
A related challenge is therefore associated with motivation. There is a strong
tendency for M/C to become reward-motivated since it is tied to high stakes, such as
whether one passes a teacher training programme or whether one receives a sizeable
performance bonus. Extrinsic reward is not wrong but it may erode an intrinsic
motivation for authentic professional development. Yet, for M/C to be really successful,
a good learner who is intrinsically motivated is important (Ng, 2005).
It is not impossible to reconcile the two roles – developer and assessor. Indeed many
people have played these two roles simultaneously over the years. But there will be
tensions and the effectiveness depends on factors such as trust and the level of
leadership displayed by the assessor. If the reporting officer can give genuine feedback
so that improvement can take place, in a way that is encouraging, and that he is fair in
IJMCE his appraisal at the end of the year, these roles can be still reconciled, albeit rather
1,1 precariously (Ng, 2005).
Second, there is a challenge of whether M/C in Singapore encourages innovation or
replication. Modern teachers face many issues and challenges that are values-conflicted
and have no simplistic solutions. In Singapore, teachers are encouraged to be engaged in
curricula and pedagogical innovation to transform the education system (Ng, 2008b).
32 Therefore, critical reflective learning and breakthrough thinking that leads to innovative
solutions become very important. But there is a tendency for M/C to become a “learn
from the master” process, promulgating yesterday’s solutions for today’s problems. There
is also a tendency for M/C to be a panacea for problems that are actually not so simplistic.
M/C in Singapore potentially suffers from a pre-specification of correct behavioural
responses or performance indicators (e.g. Ng, 2008c, 2010; Tan and Ng, 2007; Tan, 2008)
with qualitative indicators which emphasise “qualities of judgement and decision-making
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

which are indicative of capacities to make wise and intelligent responses in novel and
unpredictable situations” (Elliott, 1991, p. 313). This is particularly important in an era of
school management where marketisation and performance of education have “subjected
teachers to the micro-management of ever-tightening regulations and controls that are the
very antithesis of any kind of professionalism” (Hargreaves, 2000, p. 169). To achieve a
real education transformation, teachers cannot simply replicate the existing practices
of more senior members. Rather, the M/C relationship should stress the importance of
encouraging teachers to challenge existing thinking and bring change out of the tension.
Therefore, the important issue is not about having M/C platforms. It is about the
nature of M/C itself. Teachers should be encouraged to include critical reflections in an
M/C relationship, to challenge assumptions, create knowledge and deal with larger
issues in ambiguous environments (e.g. Ng, 2008b; Ng and Tan, 2009). Teachers need to
move beyond technical concerns (Elliott, 1993; Louden, 1991) so that they may
critically reflect on broad issues in teaching and learning. M/C in Singapore should
therefore provide a platform for innovation, not mere replication.

In summary, this paper shows that M/C is practiced in the Singapore education system
among professionals at various levels and there are good structural provisions for such
practice. Educators in Singapore benefit from M/C but there is tension in the close
association of M/C with performance appraisal and reward system, in a system that
exhibits a high level of performativity. While this paper has examined the philosophies
and implementation of mentoring and coaching in Singapore, there is a paucity of
empirical research around M/C, in particular the impact of particular M/C schemes
within different contexts and the experiences of the participants in such schemes.
There are also questions of whether there will be enough coaches and mentors to meet
the emerging demand for M/C in schools, as they struggle with their multiple roles in
school; and whether the M/C system in Singapore is too formalised to encourage
innovation. There is therefore considerable scope for further research work in the use
of M/C in the professional development of educators in Singapore.

Academy of Principals (APS) (2006), “New principals get additional support with mentoring
scheme”, available at:¼26 (accessed 22 December 2011).
Anderson, E.M. and Shannon, A.L. (1988), “Towards a conceptualization of mentoring”, Journal
of Teacher Education, Vol. 39 No. 1, pp. 38-42.
Beech, N. and Brockbank, A. (1999), “Power/knowledge and psychosocial dynamics in Mentoring and
mentoring”, Management Learning, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 7-25.
coaching in
Black, P. and Wiliam, D. (2003), “In praise of educational research: formative assessment”, British
Educational Research Journal, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 623-37. Singapore
Blackman, A. (2010), “Coaching as a leadership development tool for teachers”, Professional
Development in Education, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 421-41.
Bullough, R.V. and Draper, R.J. (2004), “Mentoring and the emotions”, Journal of Education for 33
Teaching, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 271-88.
Bush, T. and Chew, J. (1999), “Developing human capital: training and mentoring for principals”,
Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 41-52.
Carter, M. and Francis, R. (2001), “Mentoring and beginning teachers’ workplace learning”,
Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 249-62.
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

Chong, K.C., Low, G.T. and Walker, A. (1990), Mentoring: A Singapore Contribution, Singapore
Educational Administration Society, Singapore.
Chong, K.C., Low, G.T. and Walker, A. (1993), “Emerging principalship collaborative style:
towards research in mentoring”, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 66-72.
Clutterbuck, D. and Megginson, D. (1999), Mentoring Executives and Directors, Butterworth
Heinemann, Oxford.
Clutterbuck, D. and Ragins, B.R. (2002), Mentoring and Diversity, Heinemann, Oxford.
Donnelly, R. and McSweeney, F. (2011), “From humble beginnings: evolving mentoring within
professional development for academic staff”, Professional Development in Education,
Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 259-74.
Douglas, C. (1997), Formal Mentoring Programmes in Organizations: An Annotated Bibliography,
Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, North Carolina.
Elliott, J. (1991), “A model of professionalism and its implication for teacher education”,
British Educational Research Journal, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 309-18.
Elliott, J. (1993), “The relationship between ‘understanding’ and ‘developing’ teachers’ thinking”,
in Elliott, J. (Ed.), Reconstructing Teacher Education: Teacher Development, The Falmer
Press, London, pp. 193-209.
Hargreaves, A. (2000), “Four ages of professionalism and professional learning”, Teachers and
Teaching, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 151-82.
Harvey, E.L. (1995), “Separating employee development from salary systems”, The Human
Resource Professional, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 3-5.
James, M., McCormick, R., Black, P., Carmichael, P., Drummond, M.-J., Fox, A., MacBeath, J.,
Marshall, B., Pedder, D., Procter, R., Swaffield, S., Swann, J. and Wiliam, D. (2007),
Improving Learning How to Learn, Routledge, London.
Jeruchim, J. and Shapiro, P. (1992), Women, Mentors, and Success, Fawcett Columbine, New York, NY.
Leaders in Education Programme (LEP) (2011), Handbook for Participants, NIE, Singapore.
Le Cornu, R. (2005), “Peer mentoring: engaging pre-service teachers in mentoring one another”,
Mentoring and Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 355-66.
Lee, C. and Tan, M.Y. (2010), “Rating teachers and rewarding teacher performance: the context of
Singapore”, paper presented at APE Conference on Replicating Exemplary Practices in
Mathematics Education, Koh Samui, 7-12 March.
Leithwood, K.A. (1998), “Conditions for fostering organizational learning in schools”,
Educational Administration Quarterly, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 243-76.
Leithwood, K.A., Harris, A. and Hopkins, D. (2008), “Seven strong claims about successful school
leadership”, School Leadership and Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 27-42.
IJMCE Lim, L.H. (2005), Leadership Mentoring in Education: The Singapore Practice, Marshall
Cavendish International (Singapore) Private Limited, Singapore.
Lim, L.H. (2007), “Illuminating the core of Singapore school leadership preparation – two decades
of in-service experience”, International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 21 No. 5,
pp. 433-9.
Longenecker, C.O., Gioia, D.A. and Sims, H.P. Jr (1987), “Behind the mask: the politics of
34 employee appraisal”, The Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 183-93.
Louden, W. (1991), Understanding Teaching: Continuity and Change in Teachers’ Knowledge,
Cassell, London.
McNerney, D.J. (1995), “Improved performance appraisals: process of elimination”, HRFo-cus,
Vol. 72 No. 1, pp. 4-5.
Ministry of Education (MOE) (2005), Enhanced Performance Management System,
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

MOE, Singapore.
Murphy, K.R. and Cleveland, J.N. (1995), Understanding Performance Appraisal: Social,
Organizational and Goal-Based Perspectives, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
National Institute of Education (NIE) (2009), TE21: A Teacher Education Model for the 21st
Century, NIE, Singapore.
Ng, P.T. (2005), Grow Me! Coaching for Schools, 2nd ed., Prentice Hall, Singapore.
Ng, P.T. (2008a), “Developing forward looking and innovative school leaders: the Singapore
Leaders in Education Programme”, Professional Development in Education, Vol. 34 No. 2,
pp. 237-55.
Ng, P.T. (2008b), “Educational reform in Singapore: from quantity to quality”, Educational
Research for Policy and Practice, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 5-15.
Ng, P.T. (2008c), “Quality assurance in the Singapore education system: phases and paradoxes”,
Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 112-25.
Ng, P.T. (2010), “The evolution and nature of school accountability in the Singapore education
system”, Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 275-92.
Ng, P.T. and Tan, C. (2009), “Community of practice for teachers: sensemaking or critical
reflective learning?”, Reflective Practice, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 41-8.
Onchwari, G. and Keengwe, J. (2008), “The impact of a mentor-coaching model on teacher
professional development”, Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 19-24.
Orland-Barak, L. and Yinon, H. (2005), “Sometimes a novice sometimes an expert: mentors’
professional expertise as revealed through their stories of critical incidents”, Oxford
Review of Education, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 379-402.
Rhodes, C. and Beneicke, S. (2002), “Coaching, mentoring, and peer-networking: challenges for
the management of teacher professional development in schools”, Journal of In-Service
Education, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 297-310.
Robertson, J. (2009), “Coaching leadership learning through partnership”, School Leadership &
Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 39-49.
Sergiovanni, T. (2000), The Lifeworld of Leadership, Jossey Bass, San Francisco, CA.
Sergiovanni, T.J. (1996), Leadership for the Schoolhouse: How is it Different? Why is it Important?
Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.
Shoho, A.R. and Barnett, B.G. (2010), “The realities of new principals: challenges, joys, and
sorrows”, Journal of School Leadership, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 561-96.
Simkins, T., Coldwell, M., Caillau, I., Finlayson, H. and Morgan, A. (2006), “Coaching as an
in-school leadership development strategy: experiences from leading from the middle”,
Professional Development in Education, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 321-40.
Smith, K. and Tillema, H.H. (2003), “Clarifying different types of portfolio use”, Assessment and Mentoring and
Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 28 No. 6, pp. 621-44.
coaching in
Stowers, R. and Barker, R. (2010), “The coaching and mentoring process: the obvious knowledge
and skill set for organizational communication professors”, Journal of Technical Writing & Singapore
Communication, Vol. 40 No. 3, pp. 363-71.
Tan, C. (2008), “Globalisation, the Singapore state and educational reforms: towards
performativity”, Education, Knowledge and Economy, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 111-20. 35
Tan, C. and Ng, P.T. (2007), “The dynamics of change: the decentralized centralism of education
in Singapore”, Journal of Educational Change, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 155-68.
Tharman, S. (2006), Speech by Minister for Education and Second Minister for Finance,
Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at the Teachers Investiture Ceremony”, Nanyang Auditorium,
Nanyang Technological University, Nanyang, 11 July.
Tharman, S. (2007), Speech by Minister for Finance and Minister for Education, Tharman
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

Shanmugaratnam, at the 10th Appointment Ceremony for Principals”, Shangri-la Hotel

Island Ballroom, Shangri-la, 28 December.
Tillema, H.H., Smith, K. and Leshem, S. (2011), “Dual roles – conflicting purposes: a comparative
study on perceptions on assessment in mentoring relations during practicum”, European
Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 139-59.
Timperley, H. (2001), “Mentoring conversations designed to promote student teacher learning”,
Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 111-23.
Tolhurst, J. (2010), The Essential Guide to Coaching and Mentoring, 2nd ed., Longman, Harlow.
Walker, A. and Qian, H. (2006), “Beginning principals: balancing at the top of the greasy pole”,
Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 44 No. 4, pp. 297-309.
Yariv, E. (2009), “The appraisal of teacher’s performance and its impact on the mutuality of
principal-teacher emotions”, School Leadership and Management, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 445-61.
Young, J.R., Bullough, R.V., Draper, R.J., Smith, L.K. and Erickson, L.B. (2005), “Novice teacher
growth and personal models of mentoring: choosing compassion over enquiry”, Mentoring
and Tutoring, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 169-88.
Zimmerman, B.J. (2000), “Attaining self-regulation, a social cognitive perspective”, in Boekaerts, M.,
Pintrich, P.R. and Zeidner, M. (Eds), Handbook of Self-Regulation, Academic Press, San Diego,
CA, pp. 13-40.

Corresponding author
Pak Tee Ng can be contacted at:

To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail:

Or visit our web site for further details:
This article has been cited by:

1. Nikola Paranosic, Augusto Riveros. 2017. The metaphorical department head: using metaphors as analytic
tools to investigate the role of department head. International Journal of Leadership in Education 20:4,
432-450. [CrossRef]
2. Alma Harris, Anatoly Kasprzhak, Michelle Jones, Natalia Isaeva. Managing to Lead? Contemporary
Perspectives on Principals’ Practices in Russia 397-413. [CrossRef]
3. Ashley Yoon-Mooi Ng. 2016. School leadership preparation in Malaysia. Educational Management
Administration & Leadership 174114321666292. [CrossRef]
4. CastanheiraPatricia Susana Pinho, Patricia Susana Pinho Castanheira. 2016. Mentoring for educators’
professional learning and development. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education 5:4,
334-346. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]
5. Andrew J. Hobson. 2016. Judgementoring and how to avert it: introducing ONSIDE Mentoring for
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)

beginning teachers. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education 5:2, 87-110. [Abstract]
[Full Text] [PDF]
6. Alma Harris, Michelle Jones, Donnie Adams. 2016. Qualified to lead? A comparative, contextual and
cultural view of educational policy borrowing. Educational Research 58:2, 166-178. [CrossRef]
7. Kala S Retna, Pak Tee Ng. 2016. The application of learning organization to enhance learning in Singapore
schools. Management in Education 30:1, 10-18. [CrossRef]
8. Frances Langdon, Lorrae Ward. 2015. Educative mentoring: a way forward. International Journal of
Mentoring and Coaching in Education 4:4, 240-254. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]
9. Pak Tee Ng. 2015. Aspiring principals' perception of the challenges of beginning principals and the support
that they need. Asia Pacific Journal of Education 35:3, 366-376. [CrossRef]
10. Drew Polly, Robert Algozzine, Christie Sullivan Martin, Maryann Mraz. 2015. Perceptions of the roles
and responsibilities of elementary school mathematics coaches. International Journal of Mentoring and
Coaching in Education 4:2, 126-141. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]
11. Twyla Salm, Val Mulholland. 2015. Building a sustainable structure to support the Adaptive Mentorship
model in teacher education. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education 4:1, 53-68.
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]
12. Alma Harris, Michelle S. Jones, Donnie Adams, Corinne Jacqueline Perera, Sailesh Sharma. 2014. High-
Performing Education Systems in Asia: Leadership Art meets Implementation Science. The Asia-Pacific
Education Researcher 23:4, 861-869. [CrossRef]
13. Andrea Gallant, Virginnia Gilham. 2014. Differentiated coaching: developmental needs of coachees.
International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education 3:3, 237-254. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]
14. Andrea M. Kent, Frances Kochan, Andre M. Green. 2013. Cultural influences on mentoring programs and
relationships: a critical review of research. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education
2:3, 204-217. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]
15. Frances Kochan. 2013. Analyzing the Relationships Between Culture and Mentoring. Mentoring &
Tutoring: Partnership in Learning 21:4, 412-430. [CrossRef]
16. Alma Harris, Michelle Jones, Sailesh Sharma, Sathiamoorthy Kannan. 2013. Leading educational
transformation in Asia: sustaining the knowledge society. Asia Pacific Journal of Education 33:2, 212-221.
17. L. Stern, S. Stout-Rostron. 2013. What progress has been made in coaching research in relation to 16
ICRF focus areas from 2008 to 2012?. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice
6:1, 72-96. [CrossRef]
Downloaded by Universitas Negeri Malang At 22:47 04 October 2017 (PT)