English Project for Preschool
In 2004, the Bruneian Ministry of Education was looking at ways of raising standards in English. It was decided to start at the beginning and look at what was happening in preschool classes, and to provide extra resources. 17 CfBT teachers were deployed to 15 trial schools to teach Preschool classes in 2005. Thus the English Project for Preschool, or EPPS, came into existence.
The project has two main aims: to develop the English language skills of Preschool children and to develop the English language teaching skills of local Lower Primary teachers.
A new draft syllabus was developed as a joint enterprise between officers from the Ministry and CfBT, including teachers who had been teaching in Lower Primary classes.
The Ministry provided CD players, carpets and easels for each class. Each teacher also received a set of twenty five locally-produced big books for shared reading activities, plus flashcards of all the vocabulary and language patterns described in the syllabus. Two locally-produced CDs of English songs for young children have also been invaluable. CfBT's Primary specialist seconded to the Curriculum Development Department of the Ministry of Education and our Primary ELT Manager have been fully involved in this Project.
Each CfBT teacher spends some time during the week in a team-teaching situation with a local 'Cooperating Teacher'. The transfer of skills is an important aspect of the Project, but this is by no means a one-way process.
The syllabus is constantly being reviewed and adjusted, as will the other teaching materials. From 15 schools in 2005 and 2006 EPPS grew to 30 schools in 2007 and 40 at the start of 2008. As a key component of the Ministry's plan to implement EPPS nationwide, CfBT is recruiting an additional 50 teachers from 2008 onwards, bringing the CfBT team to 75 teachers altogether. Each CfBT teacher works with at least one Bruneian Cooperating Teacher. After a year as Cooperating Teachers, local colleagues become fully fledged EPPS teachers supporting the next cohort of Cooperating Teachers and ensuring the project's sustainability.
From 2008, synthetic phonics has become a core focus of the revised EPPS programme and a common 'literacy hour' will be promoted among CfBT teachers and their local colleagues.
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