SINGAPORE: From next year, Normal (Technical) students from two specialised schools will have a higher chance of getting into the Institute of Technical Education (ITEs).
Students from Spectra and Crest Secondary Schools who apply to enter related courses through ITE’s discretionary admissions exercise will be considered favourably, as they will be seen to possess the necessary aptitude.
This was announced by Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng on Tuesday (Oct 4) at the official opening of Spectra Secondary School – one of two specialised schools for Normal (Technical) students.
The move is in line with a policy shift towards aptitude-based admissions and reduced emphasis on grades. It is also to recognise the importance of a skills-based education like the one provided by the two schools.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Ng said: "Scoring well in school exams is important, but it should not be the end-goal of learning.
“Rather, learning is a lifelong journey of exploration and discovery, where one experiences deep personal fulfilment from acquiring new knowledge and skills.”
Currently, students from the specialised schools and other secondary schools can enter ITEs through the Joint Intake Exercise (JIE) or the discretionary route called the Special College Admissions Scheme (SCAS).
Under the JIE, students from specialised schools who graduate with the ITE Skills Certificate (ISC), as well as their peers from mainstream schools who take the GCE ‘N’ levels, go through the same evaluation.
But with the emphasis on aptitude-based admissions, students from specialised schools who perform well in their ISC will have an advantage when they apply for early admission through the SCAS.
The Ministry of Education said that as the ISC curriculum is specially customised to prepare students for progression to ITE and employment, they will be considered as having demonstrated the aptitude required for the mapped Nitec courses.
As part of the discretionary admissions exercise, students will go through a holistic assessment which will take into account factors such as their ISC performance and achievement in co-curricular activities. If successful, the ITEs can grant them conditional offers.
But students from specialised schools will still need to meet the minimum entry requirements for their courses, similar to students from mainstream schools.
Both Spectra and Crest secondary schools were set up to provide an additional educational pathway for Normal (Technical) students, who undergo a four-year curriculum.
In Secondary 3, they are required to choose one of four ISC courses in facility, hospitality and retail services, as well as mechanical servicing.
These courses are aligned to those in Nitec and the needs of the different industries to provide students with pathways – either to pursue further studies or gain employment – after graduation.
For example, students who graduated with an ISC in facility services can go on to pursue studies in electrical technology in Nitec.
Principal of Spectra Secondary School, Krishnan Aravinthan said this move sends a strong signal that a skills-based education is valued as much as an academic-based curriculum. "It also sends a clear signal to parents that this is something that the country is looking at and it's important to change their mindsets about skills-based education," he added.
Secondary three student Sri Ram Naidu, who aspires to be a chef, said he intends to pursue a Nitec course in western culinary arts. "I want to go to ITE to learn new skills," he said. "This way, it will build up my confidence in my abilities before I enter the workforce."