Sunday, September 5, 2010

More educational pathways with expanded IP

Last week, MOE announced the expansion of the Integrated Programme (IP) to 7 more secondary schools. For those who are unaware, the IP is a 6-year through train programme that by-passes the O levels (for more details on IP, you can go to my previous post here). The new schools offering the IP are as follows:
  • Victoria School + Cedar Girls' Secondary School + Victoria Junior College
  • Methodist Girls' School + Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) (ACSI)
  • St. Joseph's Institution (SJI)
  • Catholic High School + CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls' School + Singapore Chinese Girls' School + new junior college to be formed
In addition, Temasek Junior College will extend its current IP to begin from sec1 instead of sec3.

At the end of the 6 years, students will sit for the GCE 'A' levels except for ACSI and SJI which offer the International Baccalaureat (IB). Victoria School and Cedar Girls will take in their first batch of IP students in 2012, the other schools in 2013.

To me, this move is certainly one in the right direction - almost enough to restore my faith in MOE. You see, I've been feeling that more and more, the PSLE has come to be a make-or-break exam and the introduction of the first batch of IP schools has aggravated the situation. Since students now can determine their education pathway up to 18 from the PSLE, it has added to the belief that we need to "secure" our children's futures at the tender age of 12, when many kids have yet to mature.

After having experienced the PSLE process with Lesley-Anne, I've seen the heights of kiasu-ism - tuition in every subject and revisions from day to night are but some of the milder manifestations. It's unhealthy to say the least and I'm not sure how much learning actually happens.

The extension of the IP not only tackles this issue at the most basic level, which is increasing supply to meet demand. This second phase of IP schools also comes with a critical difference and that is, they offer BOTH the O level track as well as the IP track. In other words, kids who may not have done so well at PSLE and enter the O level track have the opportunity to switch to the IP track if they do well in secondary school.

Conversely, kids who enter the IP track but later find it tough to cope at the secondary school level may also do the switch from IP to O levels. This may not be as popular but we need to bear in mind that the IP is meant for those clearly university-bound. If the child finds it tough academically going at secondary school, it would be disastrous to force the situation and face inadequate A level results. This way, he/she can still have the option of sitting for the O levels and then moving on to a polytechnic or an alternative route.

What is not so clear is how the school selection will work - whether you indicate your choice of IP or O level track for that specific school or whether you simply choose the school and those with higher T-scores will automatically get streamed into the IP track.

MOE has said that these schools will continue to reserve places for students from other schools who wish to enter their IP at sec3. Likewise, the IP junior colleges will keep 20% of places for non-IP students.

What all this translates into is a very flexible system that caters to a more diverse group of students, including late bloomers and kids who may find their interests or abilities evolving over time. To me, the message is clear. If you don't do so well at the PSLE, there will be other opportunities along the way to seek the type of education and school you want.

Just for that, I would say that this is one of the best moves MOE has made for education in a long time.


Karmeleon said...

Should be very similar to what ACSI does it now? Enter based on psle scores (cut-off point) and then those with certain points eg. 255, will enter IP automatically in sec 1. Those who don't qualify will be in the non-IP classes, but may enter IP at sec 3 if so selected by the school based on their performance in sec 1 & sec 2.

monlim said...

Oh, is that how it works for ACSI? I must admit I'm a bit hazy on the details for ACS. I thought ACSI was all IP and if you did O levels at ACS, it means you'd be at the Barker Rd campus. Anyway, it's certainly a lot more choice than before.

Karmeleon said...

Yes, I think ACSI is currently the only IP school that has the dual non-ip and IP track programmes.

Lilian said...

ACS primary kids can move on to ACS Barker or ACSI (and other schools of course). ACS Barker takes in all ACS primary kids regardless of PSLE scores, which I think is really great.

ACSI has two tracks, Express O level (about 9 classes of 33-35 students), and IP/IB-bound (6 classes of 25 students each). In Yr3, another 100 from the O level track join IP, some from IP may join O level track. In Yr5, they take in 200 students for IB from all over (including girls).

So in Yr3, there's a 1/3 chance of getting to IP track even if the kid joined ACSI's O level track in Yr1. A pretty fair system. And those who aren't 'suitable' for IP are moved to O level track. Again, very fair. Parents may not see it this way, but it is for the child's own good.

I agree with you this is really a wonderful step by MOE. There's no perfect system that meets everyone's needs, but this is definitely the right move. As it is, some people were already calling PSLE the new O levels, ie it leads straight to the good JCs. At its extreme, GEP too was seen as a through-train to A levels (cos of DSA). Hopefully, parents will be less stressed now that the 'pie is bigger' :)

monlim said...

Lilian: Thanks for clarification. Yes, it certainly seems much more equitable and also in terms of gauging kids' abilities which can change over the years. Agree with you that parents are sending kids for GEP coaching partly cos of the through-train mentality. Hopefully now parents can calm down a notch!

elan said...

Dear Lillian and Monica,
Slight correction - ACS Barker takes in almost all the ACSP students except those that have really really poor results. So I think only a handful (low single digits0 don't get into ACS (Barker). I think its wonderful that the ACS family really tries to take good care of its kids, once they are in.
Which is why the Primary One posting exercise to get into ACSP or J is really "O" levels in this case!


Anonymous said...

Yes this is great news esp for our sons whom we worry more about. They are in time for the changes. Phew! Some pressure is taken off unless one is aiming for the top IPs which I reckon would definitely hold their own for a long time to come. As the new IP schools are well spread geographically across the countries, we can also choose the one nearer to our homes. Very great news indeed.


monlim said...

Elan: Yes, I think ACS is the rare school that really takes care of its students regardless which is nice in results-oriented Singapore.

SL: Agree that the Raffles and Hwa Chong family will maintain their stature as the top IPs but the others will be more accessible.

Karmeleon said...

ACS Barker is able to do that bc it has the Normal stream .

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...