Sunday 16 December 2012

Direct poly route for Normal stream students

Two new programmes for top 30% of cohort to gain direct entry to polytechnics
By Kezia Toh, The Straits Times, 15 Dec 2012

FROM next year, Normal stream students can go for two new programmes that will prepare them for direct entry into a polytechnic in Singapore.

One is a year-long foundation course developed by the polytechnics and taught by their lecturers.

But this is open only to the top 10 per cent of each Normal (Academic) cohort.

The next 20 per cent can opt for the second programme: a Higher Nitec course at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

If they achieve the required grades, these students can go straight to the first or second year of a related poly course after graduation.

They need not sit the O levels to gain entry into the polytechnics.

Currently, most Normal (Academic) students who take the N levels in their fourth year and score well enough, will do their O levels the following year.

The new direct route to the polytechnics was welcomed by students like Zhenghua Secondary's Marcus He, 16.

The Secondary 4 Normal (Academic) student is eyeing a biomedical sciences diploma, by way of the polytechnic foundation programme.

He said: "I prefer to get into a polytechnic where there is more laboratory time for hands-on practice to learn what it would be like in the biomedical industry, rather than continue doing academic subjects."

Normal stream students who took this year's N-level exams, both Academic and Technical, will know their results on Monday.

Meanwhile, the ITE is also raising the ante with three new Nitec courses from next month. Each is for two years.

These are in floristry, electronics (broadband technology and services), and fashion apparel production and design.

The students will learn in an environment that resembles the working world.

For instance, floristry students will pick up floral arrangement and gift packaging skills in a laboratory and floral retail shop at ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio.

The course - the first of its kind in a school here - is to meet demand from the integrated resorts and attractions such as the Gardens by the Bay, said the ITE.

As for the electronics course, a centre will be opened at ITE College East in Simei.

Students enrolled in the course will learn how to activate fibre broadband services in homes as part of providing customer service and maintain an optical network infrastructure in an industry environment.

The fashion students will learn in studios at ITE College Central, with tailor dummies during draping lessons and a sample-making room with drafting and sewing equipment.

* Poly foundation scheme a big success
Almost all the 837 students progress to diploma courses
By Pearl Lee, The Straits Times, 19 Apr 2014

THE first Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) - set up to prepare students for polytechnic entrance without having to take O levels - boasted a 99.5 per cent success rate, it was revealed this week.

Almost all the 837 students who enrolled in last year's Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) "have progressed to the first year of their respective diploma courses", the Education Ministry said.

The PFP is open to Normal (Academic) students who have done well in N-level exams and allows them to skip Secondary 5. Instead they take a year-long programme at the polytechnic of their choice - featuring compulsory modules such as English and Maths, and others selected by the polytechnic. It is designed to prepare them for direct entrance to the course they are interested in.

Almost 80 per cent of the 1,277 students offered places on this year's PFP have signed up.

While the polytechnics differ in how they assess their students, most use a combination of projects, presentations, quizzes and exams.

Nanyang Polytechnic said its foundation-year students are graded in a similar way to its diploma students. "By using an assessment system that is similar to the polytechnic system, we are preparing our students to transit more seamlessly into their polytechnic diploma courses," a spokesman said.

Singapore Polytechnic student Victoria Tan, 18, was among 191 students enrolled in its first foundation course and is now a first-year civil engineering and business student.

"It opened more doors for me than if I had remained in Secondary 5," she said. "We were not as busy as the first-year (polytechnic) students as we had more free time. I used that time to take part in about five co-curricular activities. I've learnt and grown a lot from the experience."

The programme helped fellow student Mark Sathyan, 19, to cope with the transition from secondary school to Singapore Polytechnic. "In secondary school, even if you didn't do your homework, your teachers would still be there to push you," said the mechanical engineering student. "In polytechnic, it is about self-directed learning. You definitely need more discipline. This one year in the foundation course has prepped me to switch to this thinking."

Nanyang Polytechnic student Thamir Singh, 18, said it allowed him to enter the polytechnic course of his choice "but without the stress of taking the O-level exams". He will begin pharmaceutical sciences lessons on Monday. "I've heard from people in the industry that the pharmaceutical sciences course is not an easy one," he said. "But I've spent the past year getting used to the poly lifestyle and it will help me to cope better."

Students who do not complete the foundation programme can opt to apply to the Institute of Technical Education's Higher Nitec programmes, take O-level exams as a private candidate, or approach their former secondary schools for readmission in the following year, said an Education Ministry spokesperson.

She added that a foundation student's transfer to a different course "will only be assessed on a case-by-case basis if there are extenuating circumstances".

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