Monday, June 8, 2009

Integrated Programme (IP) or how to legally skip a national exam

This is a post on IP schools, a follow up from my post on GEP at the secondary level. As mentioned, an IP school is one which offers a through-train secondary and JC education, skipping the GCE 'O' levels. This frees the kids from the time and effort in preparing for a national examination, allowing them to focus on fun things like projects! Or research! Or more homework! But seriously, exam-preparation in Singapore is so mentally and physically draining that I'm for any system that can give my kids a free pass.

An IP can be 6 years or 4 years. A 6-year programme is where the child enters at sec1 level and follows through till JC2. A 4-year programme starts from sec3 and lasts till JC2, meaning you have to apply for admission at sec2.

As of today, there are 11 schools which offer the IP. They are:

6-year IP

  • Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) (ACSI) *
  • Dunman High School (DHS) *
  • Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) *
  • Nanyang Girls' High School (NYGS) *
  • National Junior College (NJC)
  • NUS High School of Mathematics and Science (NUSH) *
  • Raffles Girls' School (RGS) *
  • Raffles Institution (RI) *
  • River Valley High School (RV)

  • 4-year IP

    1. Temasek Junior College (TJC)
    2. Victoria Junior College (VJC)
    Within these 11 IP schools, there is a myriad of different combinations of programmes and educational paths, so it can get slightly confusing. I'll try and sort them out for you.

    First, if your kid is in the GEP, he'll be encouraged to apply to schools which have the SBGE because those schools offer a curriculum designed around the needs of gifted kids. (Don't know what's SBGE? Refer to my previous post). These are the 7 schools with the asterisk *. The other schools offer their own IP which is not equivalent to the SBGE.

    The only two girls' schools on the list - NYGS and RGS - offer 4 years of secondary education before the girls join the HCI and RI family of schools respectively for the remaining 2 years of JC education.

    If you enter any of the schools marked in red, you will eventually sit for the GCE 'A' levels. ACSI students sit for the International Baccalaureat (IB) exam while NUSH students are awarded the NUS High School Diploma. From what I hear, you may opt to switch from one IP school to another at sec3 or JC1, you'll still be exempt from the 'O' levels. But a successful transfer would depend on the grades and other achievements obtained in your original school.

    Some parents have wondered whether it's wise to opt for an IP since their kids won't have the fall-back of the 'O' level certificate should they not do well in the IP. My advice is: you have to make a judgement call based on the ability of your child.

    In general, my sense is that the IP is more taxing than the regular 4-year 'O' level programme - it offers a broader curriculum with lots of other learning experiences. Again, I stress that putting your child into a "branded" school may not necessarily be a good thing if she can't cope with the programme. I've heard of kids who get into the top schools via DSA but whose PSLE results later fall significantly below the cut-off point. So while they have a place in the school, they later struggle to keep up with the work. And for all these schools, there's still a minimum grade the kids have to maintain to be promoted to the next level each year - it's not automatic! So think carefully.

    But if your child is clearly high ability or gifted, the IP might be a feasible choice because realistically, the 'O' levels won't be the end of the academic road for her, so there's no need for a backup.

    The local education system changes as quickly and drastically as Linda Evangelista's hair colour, so this information is only valid for now. I'm pretty sure more schools will offer IP in the near future, so do keep a look out for any changes or new offerings.


    Anonymous said...

    Hi Monlim,

    You missed out SOTA which also offers a through train 6-year arts and academic programme leading to International Baccalaureat (IB) exam.ACS(I) cannot be considered as a full-fledged IP school as about 40% of its cohort take 'O' exam.High ability kids that had scored well in PSLE exam can join GEP kids in schools offering SBGE (IP track) or SBSP(O level track).

    Hope this helps.

    monlim said...

    Anon: Thanks! You're right, SOTA also offers IP. I took this info from the MOE website, I'm not sure why SOTA was not included in the page on IP.

    And yes, while GEP kids are encouraged to join the SBGE or SBSP, the programmes are certainly not restricted to GEP kids. Thanks for clarifying!

    Veronica_L said...

    Btw, does SBGE stand for School-Based Gifted Ed? Also, if a child enters the IP but wants to back out, is that possible or does the child have to endure the 6 years?


    monlim said...

    Veronica: Yup, SBGE is correct. I haven't heard of kids who want to transfer out of the IP but I guess it should the the same as all other schools, you may apply for a transfer to another school as long as the other school will take you.

    breve1970 said...

    Mon, thanks for all the information. I have been trying to find out and read up about all these.

    monlim said...

    You're most welcome, Ann!

    bACk in GERMANY said...

    Wow... dizzy from all those info...

    Yes, I concur on your statement about having kids earlier to avoid all those stressful exams!!!

    Anonymous said...

    If your kid is extremely brilliant and very focussed, it doesn't matter if you put him/her in a "branded" school.

    Apoova Sachdeva a 2008 IB topper went to Indian International School GIIS.

    GIIS International Baccalaureate

    Apoorva of GIIS tops worldwide IB in 2008

    Walfin said...

    Transfer out of IP + boy=go to ACS :D:D:D

    Actually I wonder how IP will figure in with O Level requirements in some statutes (e.g. the Financial Advisers' Act which requires that all financial advisers have a minimum of 4 O Levels). How many O level passes is an IB pass worth?

    Monicka said...

    Thanks, Ms Monlim! I am P6 student applying for RGS through DSA. The information provided was very useful to me! But what kind of questions will there be asked in the general ability test paper? It sounds SCARY! please help me! Thanks!

    monlim said...

    Monicka: Don't worry too much, you can't study for the GAT as it tests logical thinking via patterns :) All the best!

    Anonymous said...

    Hi monlim,

    Just wondering what are the specific prerequisites to transfer from an IP sch to a junior college like temasek. Pls enlighten me if you know :)

    monlim said...

    Sorry, I've no idea. Probably can find out from the school?

    sakuno333 said...

    Hi , is it really true that ip students can transfer to another ip school ? Do the school that you want to transfer to only look at your results in your former school? Is it the whole of 4 years in your former school or only seconday 4 results?

    monlim said...

    Sakuno: I have no idea. Why don't you check with the school?

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