SINGAPORE: Two GCE O-Level subjects have been revamped to make them more relevant and relatable for Singapore students. The curricula for drama, and exercise and sports science, will now have a sharper local focus with opportunities for critical thinking and hands-on learning.
At CHIJ Katong Convent, drama students will take on a new syllabus this year, more than a decade after their school first began offering the O-Level subject.
“In the earlier years, it was a curriculum that was not quite made for the Singapore students in the Singapore classroom, and this revised drama curriculum has the input of local theatre practitioners and our teachers. There is a greater emphasis on critical thinking skills as well,” said CHIJ Katong Convent’s principal Patricia Chan.
All lower secondary students in the school take foundation classes, where they learn about body movement through play.
“Additionally, in CHIJ Katong Convent, we use the plays of Singaporean playwrights as foundation texts to study the elements of drama, and students also perform an excerpt of a local play each year,” said the school’s subject head and literature and drama coordinator Yin Mei Lenden-Hitchcock.
However, only about 10 out of about 200 students each year are selected to take up drama as an O-Level subject, which covers more technical topics such as the different forms of acting.
Over at Bowen Secondary, the school has decided to offer exercise and sports sciences for the first time.
“We noticed that one-third of our students are involved in a sports co-curricular activity and we also have been performing well in inter-school sports. We thought this is a strength of Bowen Secondary, so we want to offer exercise and sports science so students can develop further,” said Mr Winston Chua, a senior teacher for Physical Education (PE) at the school.
The curriculum was updated to focus on a smaller range of sports for practical lessons and comprises sports that are more popular with Singaporeans, such as basketball, soccer and track and field. Following each practical session, students are required to analyse their performance and come up with a plan to improve their speed, agility and technique. For theory, students learn about sports physiology, such as muscle movements and the skeletal system.
So far, some 35 students from both the Express and Normal (Academic) streams have signed up, after meeting requirements set by the school to get at least a silver for the National Physical Fitness Award (NAPFA) test and a B grade and above for physical education.
Preparations for the new syllabus began five years ago with teachers at Bowen Secondary undergoing training.
“We also left for an overseas learning journey in RMIT in Australia. We looked at the schools there which offered PE as an examinable subject – how they conduct the theory and practical sessions. We are also getting updates from schools around us that have been offering it for the past few years. We do meet up. We get resources from them, so that we can customise them for our own students,” said Mr Chua.
There are currently seven schools offering drama and 18 schools offering exercise and sports science. The Ministry of Education says the applied subjects aim to nurture skills that can prepare students for the future, such as empathy and a global perspective.