14 August 2009

Singapore Sports School to offer 6-year IB programme from 2010

Singapore Sports School to offer 6-year IB programme from 2010@CNA

SINGAPORE: From next year, the Singapore Sports School will be offering a six-year International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme to its students.

The programme, which does away with O-level and A-level examinations, is seen as a move to aid the development of young athletes.

The Singapore Sports School was seen as a revolutionary idea when it opened in 2004. It had opted for a more conventional four-year secondary education system then to ease the concerns of parents – many of whom were worried that their children would suffer academically.

Now, parents are calling for more to be done to support the long-term sporting careers of their children. The IB programme is a move in that direction by providing the flexibility needed to match the training schedules of the student athletes.

For one, the twice-yearly IB exam schedule means that students who are unable to take an exam due to competition preparations can do so at another sitting. Furthermore, they will remain in the Singapore Sports School till their late teens.

Mrs Deborah Tan, principal of the Singapore Sports School, said: "Those are crucial years in terms of their biological development and that's where their sports development will probably be showing up in terms of their potential, in terms of eventual performance as well.

"These additional two to three years that we're offering beyond the secondary programme are extremely important for athletes in terms of their longevity in the sport, and the sports school is here to help them achieve that."

Students may choose from traditional subjects in the Arts and Sciences, and may also take up modules in Sports Science.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, said the widely recognised diploma programme will open more doors for young athletes.

"You take a child at age 13 doesn't mean it's all over in four years or six years for that matter. The key is to provide training that commensurate with his or her maturity, and keep as many options open as possible," he said.

The Singapore Sports School will take in its first batch of IB students next year, with a cohort of 20 to 30 students.

The programme will also take in students at any point during the six years, even those who are not from the sports school. These students, however, will need to demonstrate a sporting ability.

The IB programme is not the only through-train option available for students. The school currently has tie-ups with Republic Polytechnic and the Auckland University of Technology, where students can continue with a diploma programme after Secondary Four, without sitting for the O-levels.

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