Monday, June 1, 2009

GEP at secondary school level

A couple of years ago, the local papers reported that the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) in secondary school was to be scrapped. This led to quite a bit of confusion as most Singaporeans thought that there would no longer be a differentiated programme for gifted kids after primary school. I was one of them, until I learnt more about it after Lesley-Anne got into the GEP, so I thought I'd write this post for parents seeking clarification in this matter.

Previously, the GEP curriculum by MOE was offered by selected secondary schools in Singapore, so primary school GEP kids who made the grade would join this programme. However, many these top schools gradually became independent, giving them the autonomy to develop their own curriculum. Some of them also became Integrated Programme (IP) schools, meaning the students are offered a through-train to the GCE 'A' levels or International Baccalaureate (only for ACSI) or NUS High School Diploma (only for NUS High), by-passing the GCE 'O' level examinations.

As expected, the IP schools became highly popular with GEP and high ability kids because it exempts you from a national exam. Not to mention, these are the generally the prestigious schools to begin with. Since the primary school GEP kids prefered to go to the IP schools, the MOE-run GEP track in regular secondary schools became redundant. As such, the programme was phased out by 2008.

However, and this is a big however, the GEP essentially still carries on at the secondary school level except it's now in the form of the School-Based Gifted Education (SBGE) programme, designed by the specific school that offers it. MOE continues to advise these schools on the SBGE programme and curriculum, so you'll find that it is very much aligned with the GEP at primary school level.

Here is where it gets slightly confusing: There are some non-IP schools which offer School-Based Special Programmes (SBSP) for GEP kids (similar to SBGE but you still have to take 'O' levels) and there are some IP schools which DON'T offer the SBGE. Whaaaaat? I know, I know, it took me a while to understand this. Plus the rate at which new schools and programmes pop up each year is just mind-boggling.

I will elaborate on IP schools in another post. Meanwhile, this post is just to highlight the point that GEP kids can still continue with their gifted education track beyond primary school. In order to do this, they need to maintain their GEP status, ie it's not guaranteed. To maintain their GEP status, the child must:
  • have performed consistently in the GEP from p4-6, including a pass in Social Studies
  • have a good attitude
  • perform reasonably well at PSLE
Notice the criteria are rather vague. I think this is deliberate because MOE does conduct assessments on a case-by-case basis. At Lesley-Anne's school, the teachers constantly stress the importance attitude, ie if a child shows a willingness to learn and shows great leadership or teamwork, they usually allow him to continue in the programme even if he doesn't meet the baseline in one subject. According to MOE, majority of GEP kids meet the criteria for retaining their GEP status.

If the child maintains his GEP status and gets into an Independent School with IP or SBSP, he automatically earns a scholarship or subsidy of school fees, which is very attractive considering the fees of Independent Schools are considerably higher than those of government or government-aided schools.


Veena said...

hello monica,
i am not sure if you got the previous message.
my mailid is, i wanted your opinion on what curriculum to use for my daughter's GEP exam, i had sent a mail to the MOE asking them if she can take part as she is in international school, they wanted the complete credentials and cover letter and said it is decided case by case.they last week sent out a mail to me to say that she can write the exam.
please guide me about this,
thanks and regards.
look forward to hearing from you,

naggo-nitemare said...

Thanks for sharing this info so generously. It's gd to know tt the MOE understand tt not all GEP kids are consistently high scorers and also acknowledges tt attitude plays a key role in a pupil's future success.

monlim said...

Veena: No, didn't receive any previous message from you. I'm not sure what GEP exam you're refering to, are you talking about the p3 screening and selection tests? In which case, you'll probably need to keep up with the p3 local Maths curriculum (can get a local textbook) as that's tested for the maths paper. English is more a testing of the general command of the language. No need to study for the General Ability test (round 2).

If you have more questions, feel free to email me.

veena said...

okay, i think the previous one was very long so did not apprear in the list of comments.
anyways, i am refering to the one that happens in august for all P3 children, my daughter is in grade 4 in the Global indian international school. So i need to get the maths text book for P3 is it, can i get it from Popular or any other place to get it? like the nearby school? this is the first time my daughter will be writing this kind of exam,is it like a normal maths paper/english paper?
any other tips please share.
thanks much.

monlim said...

Veena: Yes, the My Pals Are Here math text can be bought from Popular. This is to give you an idea of what topics will be covered but of course the paper won't be so basic, you may want to give some assessment papers/books for practice. I really can't tell you if it's like a normal maths/english paper cos MOE doesn't let anyone see the papers, not even teachers!

You can find more info on the tests on the MOE website here

Veronica_L said...

As usual, v.informative. Thanks for the info. I sure wish that I was as priviledged back in my school days. Kids now have so much and still they complain all day long. (sigh) Post some on Andre's comedies please! We can all do with a good laugh on a Monday like this...=)

monlim said...

Veronica: Andre's antics don't sound so funny now that I'm stuck with him 24/7 for the school hols!

Just out of curiosity, do you have kids?

Veronica_L said...

No, I don't. Well, not yet. Engaged, wedding in July. But I am the proud babysitter of three nieces and nephews, all of which are hopeless PSP addicts and junk food lovers.

So I do have first-hand experience with kids.

monlim said...

Veronica: Congrats on the upcoming wedding! Thanks for enlightening me. Yup, I kinda guessed cos you never mentioned your kids.

breve1970 said...

Salutations to you, Madame Monica! Your blog is so entertaining and informative that it even attracts a bride to be to read it:)!

monlim said...

LOL!! I don't know, maybe Veronica is... ummm.. thinking ahead? Or maybe she just has a natural interest in kids :D

Veronica_L said...

Haha. No, not really thinking ahead, I just find it very informative and funny. Good to learn more about kids in advance, too...;)

Ann said...

Hi Monica,
Thanks for your information on how to maintain our children's GEP status beyong primary school and one of the criterias on the child must obtain a pass in Social Studies is worrying me. My boy who is in P4 GEP scores only 70.8 (70 is the passing mark) for his Social Studies which is his worst subject. He told me he dislikes the subject. May I seek for your advice on how I could help him based on your past experience with your girl? Or any book to recommend for his reading?
Thanks in advance.

monlim said...

Ann: I wouldn't worry too much about Social Studies, he's still passing it and I don't think it's hard to pass at p6 level since they take into account the portfolio, daily work etc. It's slightly different with L-A because she loves social studies esp in p5 when they study the environment. So I've not helped her with SS at all! Maybe first find out specifically which part your son is not doing so well and go from there? If it's SG history, then it's just more reading up.

Seriously, don't stress so much over SS, the teachers have told us it's quite "challenging" to fail SS :)

Ann said...

Hi Monica,
Thank you very much for your reply. He told me he is quite weak in geography and I think the project and portfolio he has done so far have also pulled down his total mark as he is not a detailed and neat person.

Walfin said...

Dear Ann,

I don't know if you'll be reading this, but I'll just post here anyway.

I didn't really like SS in primary school as well, but I got a distinction in PSLE anyway (don't think projects counted in PSLE in my time), so don't worry so much. (I ended up taking Geog and History later on, to boot).

If I remember correctly the exam was quite interesting to do. Not really a typical exam. I believe Geog should just be more reading up too.

Unknown said...

hi Monica,

When I got my son report book before June Holiday, I was kind of upset, I am worry he may not fit the requirement in the Secondary GEP Programme.

My son who in P5 GEP now, since last year in the pass 3 examinations, he only score an average 75% overall (5 subjects). He had been performed below average in his language: Eng 65% and HCL 60%. As for the rest SS 75%, Maths 90% and Sci 85% and I think it unlikely for him to achieve the 80% in the next 2 examinations. I notice that School like RI need to score above 80% for GE Domain DSA application.

I really need your advices what would happen if he is unable to meet the 80%? Will he be out of the programme or he will need to wait for his PSLE result.
(I can be reach:

Thanks and have a nice day.

monlim said...

Topaz: I understand you might be concerned but I wouldn't be overly worried yet at this stage. 75% average is not too bad, I think L-A performed at about that rate too.

When the schools state 80% for DSA, they mean that if you get 80%, you won't need to sit for the GAT, it's not the minimum for DSA application. L-A never scored 80% average in all of her 3 years in primary GEP and she still managed to get 2 confirmed DSA places.

For PSLE, there's an unspoken rule that GEP kids shd score at least 250 to keep their GEP status but again, this is on a case by case basis. Hope this alleviates your worries somewhat.

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