Lawrence Wong explains intent behind strategic review into sports school's direction

The curriculum for Singapore Sports School students makes it hard for them to excel internationally, and this realisation prompted a recently-announced strategic review into the school's future direction.

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Response to Parliamentary Questions on the Singapore Sports School

Mr Alex Yam Ziming asked:

To ask the Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth with the Singapore Sports School marking its 10th anniversary in 2014 (a) whether the school has achieved its aim to enable young athletes to realise their sporting and academic potential by combining world-class sports training with quality academic education; (b) how have the students been performing on the sports and academic fronts; and (c) whether more can be done to help sporting students in their sports and academic aspirations.

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah asked:

To ask the Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) whether the Singapore Sports School has achieved its desired outcome and managed to attract top-tier athletes; and (b) whether the Ministry will consider (i) lightening the School's academic curriculum to enable its students to focus more on their sports; and (ii) having a through-train integrated programme to a university degree for athletes.

Mr Lawrence Wong responded:

The Singapore Sports School (SSP) has largely succeeded in its aim of combining an excellent sports programme with a quality academic education. Within a decade, the school has produced several Olympians and world champions. At the recent Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar, SSP student-athletes and alumni accounted for almost half of Team Singapore’s gold medal haul (15 out of 34). The school has also done well in supporting the academic needs of its student-athletes. Last year, more than 95% of its “O” level graduates were eligible for places in Junior Colleges, Millenia Institute and the Polytechnics.

Nevertheless, given the increasing level of international competition, the SSP plans to step up its game. Hence MCCY has announced a strategic review, to see how the Sports School can become a national sports academy of excellence, and provide talented student-athletes the best environment to train and develop their full potential.

The review will see how we can better optimise the training and competition schedule of our student-athletes, and still give them a sound academic education so they can progress to Institutes of Higher Learning. This could mean a more flexible curriculum for those with the potential to excel at the international level. As it is, Sports School has already been piloting a customised academic curriculum which wraps around the student-athlete’s training schedule, or what is known as the School-Within-a-School programme. The review will examine how we can further enhance this programme, and also explore partnerships with more tertiary institutions, including local and overseas universities, to extend and expand the range of through-train programmes, as suggested by Er Lee.

We are mindful that the needs of the different sports are different. So rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach, the review will consider how the sports and academic programmes can be better customised to each sport. We will also see how the Sports School can partner more effectively with the National Sports Associations (NSA), the Junior Sports Academies, and the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) to attract top-tier student-athletes in each field, and provide them with an attractive pathway to pursue their sporting aspirations.