THESE students will soon be getting the best of both the Integrated Programme (IP) and O-level tracks.
In a joint reply to The New Paper's queries, Cedar Girls' Secondary School (CGSS) and Victoria School (VS) said students in their O-level programmes would be able to "benefit from IP teaching approaches" which would be used in selected elements of the O-level programmes.
Next year, CGSS and VS will be offering the six-year Victoria-Cedar Alliance IP (VCA IP). But both schools will also continue to offer the O-level programme.
Students in the VCA IP will spend their first four years in either CGSS or VS while participating in joint programmes between the two schools, and complete their final two years at Victoria Junior College (VJC).
The schools' reply added that besides teaching approaches, students in both the O-level and IP tracks will also have access to the different school programmes and facilities offered by the three schools in the VCA.
Said the schools' spokesman: "For instance, O-level students will be given the opportunities to offer electives at VJC and VS; and VJC students from the Track and Field teams will be using the sports facilities at CGSS.
"All these will value-add to the students' learning experiences."
The VCA IP's dual-track structure differentiates it from some other IP schools, which offer just one track.
Added the spokesman: "This structure allows for more porosity as good students in the O-level programme will have the opportunity to apply for transfer to the IP in Year 3."
There have been discussions in local newspapers recently about the pros and cons of the IP.
Some feel that the IP, which was started in 2004 as a niche programme, has now become a source of pressure for many students whose parents are clamouring for them to be on board.
Others, however, view the IP as a means of producing well-rounded students.
With 18 schools to be on the programme by 2013, those who champion the IP say it allows more students the space to develop intellectual curiosity and other talent.
The IP, which started at eight schools, was aimed at the top 10 per cent of those leaving primary school who are earmarked as being bound for university.
Students in the IP skip the O levels so that curriculum time is freed up for them to go on research attachments and field trips.
The latest schools to offer the IP next year - CGSS and VS - say the introduction of the IP would not sideline their O-level students although about a quarter of their intake will now be made up of IP students.
But the two schools said that students on both tracks "can expect to receive high-quality education and be given opportunities to excel in their own way".
At Nanyang Girls' High School (NYGH), the IP was first offered in 2004. In 2005, the school offered the programme to the whole cohort of Secondary 1 students.
Hwa Chong Institution's (HCI) spokesman emphasised diversity in their cohorts of students, with students from "close to 50 secondary schools entering their school at Junior College 1" this year.
Each HCI Secondary 1 cohort comprises 450 boys, about half of whom entered the school through the Direct School Admission-Secondary Exercise (DSA-Sec).
The DSA-Sec recognises talents beyond the classroom, such as in leadership, sports, or performing arts.
Apart from becoming well-rounded individuals, students from IP schools are also taught to be community-centred.
Said the NYGH spokesman: "Our IP curriculum aims to nurture Reflective, Responsive, Responsible Learners, developing critical and creative thinkers who will respond with empathy to the world around them and seek to play an active role as a respected member of society."
HCI's spokesman said the school's programmes "celebrate biculturalism, an entrepreneurial spirit and a heart for the community".
CGSS and VS have similar aims.
The schools' spokesman said: "The VCA IP aims to develop students into passionate learners who seek and create new knowledge, and social innovators who challenge processes and produce innovative solutions that contribute to a better community."
This article was first published on Feb 21, 2015.
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