National Day Rally 2013

It has been nearly a month since the National Day Rally 2013. I am sure that everybody has heard and read about Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcements. In addition, the Ministry of Education has followed up by giving some additional information regarding these announcements.

Let’s do a quick summary of the main changes and what do we think of these changes in RG Channel Future School.

Extended Edusave Accounts

From 2014 onwards, all children of ages 7-16 of Singapore citizens between the ages will receive Edusave contributions. This includes students who are in Madrasahs, privately funded schools, home-schooled or residing overseas.

This is definitely good news for children who are not studying in mainstream schools. While there are still some questions, like what educational opportunities are MOE going to allow to be funded, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Broader admissions under the Direct School Admissions (DSA)

The number of students that can be admitted under the Direct School Admissions (DSA) scheme will broaden. The original aim of the scheme was to allow students with special talents in sports, arts or technology to be admitted in secondary schools. Students with leadership skills or show good character could also be admitted.

The good thing about this scheme is that it allows students who might not be academically excellent but have a special talent, to enter good secondary schools. Extending this scheme seems to make sense in stressing that success in education is not just based on academics.

However, there are two caveats.

First, is a system problem. How does one measure character or leadership? Can we give a grade to a student’s leadership skills? How can we even compare the character between two students? The processes schools go through to select their students will have to be thought out carefully.

Secondly, a note of caution to parents who push their children to these schools. I have seen many examples of students that take part in the scheme only to discover that they struggle academically in school. A minority of these even get retained. So parents need to ensure that their child is ready to enter a school where the majority of the students have generally scored higher PSLE scores.

Removal of the T-score in PSLE

In the future, PSLE students would not know their PSLE T-score. They would only know the banding of their subjects, just like the O and A levels.

While some teachers and parents interviewed by the media praised this measure as reducing stress, I do not think it is effective in reducing stress to the general school population. While it is true that with this change, students need not to be so obsessed in chasing the one mark which could make a difference in their T-score, it does not change the fundamental reasons why there is stress. The real reason of stress is competition to enter brand name secondary schools. As long as this competition is not removed, there will be stress.

Reserved places for P1 Admission

Another change is that every primary school in Singapore will now be required to set aside at least 40 places, or between 10 and 15 per cent of their enrolment, for children with no prior connection to the school. Subsequently, MOE announced that the places will go to Phases 2B and 2C.

These changes don’t seem to have any impact in many schools. Of course that being said, many schools don’t have lots of parents trying to get in. Some of the more popular schools will be affected as there will probably be less spaces in the earlier phases. However, these students who did not get in the earlier phases might join in in 2B and 2C instead. Therefore, while there is a higher possibility that children with no connection with the school might be able to enter, it is not a guarantee.

In conclusion, the government has tweaked certain policies to make it seem somewhat fairer, like the reserved spaces for P1 Admission. However, alumni still get priority. Some changes are great and the government should be given credit for them. The Extended Edusave accounts and the increased number of DSA places are great schemes. So is the removal of T-score in PSLE. It does not remove stress completely, but it does reduce it. Removing stress completely is silly and unrealistic, if you ask me.

The government has made good steps in its education policies. The government can do more and we will address this issue in our future blog post.

Bloom’s Taxonomy – A better way to learn

Our CAL2 methodology is based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. We believe that the success of a student’s learning is reflective of the quality of the teacher, as well as a effective teaching pedagogy and that’s why we use it. Interestingly, the Dean of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore mentions that Duke-NUS uses Bloom’s Taxonomy in their teaching as well. Read More…

RG Channel Future School is in SmartKids Asia!

On 15-17th March 2013, RG Channel Future School will be at SmartKids Asia, the World’s Largest Educational Kid’s Fair.

Join us for our Free Trial Class on 15th March from 1.30 – 2pm, or come get a free assessment for your child.

We also have goodie bag giveaways and a special “25% discount for life” during the fair!

We can’t wait to see you there!

Manifesto of a parent

British philosopher, historian, mathematician, and social critic Bertrand Arthur William Russell is one of the most influential and intellectually diverse thinkers in modern history.

Russell had certain themes which he loved to espouse – the purpose of education, the value of uncertainty, the importance of critical thinking and the gift of intelligent criticism. On December 16, 1951, his manifesto on teachers was published, linking his favourite themes to the responsibilities of teachers.

Some of his points are also valid for parents. Let us discover what his beliefs are on the responsibilities of teachers and think about how they impact on us as parents.

When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

It is easy to use our authority to suppress dissent, especially on a young child. However, as your children grow older, this strategy doesn’t work anymore. Explain why your way or your decision is correct and base it on logic and/or moral values. This way, children will understand why you made the decision and will come to respect you more.

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

Sometimes, your child has an idea that may be strange or really different. Do not dismiss them immediately. You should ask questions why they came up with this idea. If it is wrong, explain why it is wrong. Or else, ask questions to make them think harder. After all, a lot of ideas were initially opposed but was eventually proved correct.

Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

Be truthful at all times – you will realise that the truth will reveal itself eventually. You might even lose the respect of your children if they realised that their parent had lied to them. Be a great role-model to your children and they will grow up correct.

These are just three points that we want to highlight. It is indeed clear that if we live by these three points, we will turn out to be great parents and good role models for our children.

Online Educational Resources

You will agree that the digital world is rapidly becoming important in the lives of our children. The Internet is also full of educational resource for parents. You can explore the following websites to look for resources for your children.

YouTube Education

Find it at: http://www.youtube.com/education/

There are thousands of videos from all over the world, teaching different subjects and topics. The videos there are actually of high quality and you can at one look decide which video is good based on the number of likes versus the number of dislikes.

Apple iTunes University

Find it at: http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/

The only unfortunate news about this excellent resource is that it is only available for apple customers. Students can play video or audio lectures and take notes that are synchronized with the lecture. They can read books and view presentations. See a list of all the assignments for the course and check them off as they’re completed. It also integrates with iBooks for a great user experience.

Twitter

Find it at: http://www.twitter.com/

You must be shocked to see twitter in this list. Isn’t Twitter a place where youths just shoot off their thoughts? There is a huge sharing community of teachers, educators and students on Twitter, sharing resources, strategies and tips. How do you get access to this? We are going to provide some hashtags to aid your search – #engchat, #books, #grammar, #litchat, #teachingenglish, #amwriting, #writing, and #writetip.

Enjoy yourselves and if you do find more resources, do share with each other.

FutureSchool Experience Trial Class

RG Channel Future School will be running a series of trial classes between 8 – 21 December 2012. We had received some queries on the phone about what it is all about. Let me give our readers some information about our trial classes to clear their doubts. While our classes span many different levels, there are common threads running throughout each class.

In RG Channel, we believe that English is the foundation for learning. Therefore we teach our English lessons in themes. The reason for this is to build broad vocabulary and basic knowledge in many different topics so that students will find learning these topics easier when they encounter later. Our strategy also creates students with wide general knowledge. For our trial lessons, we focus on the topic of Ecology. The knowledge covered will range from basic information like food chains for the Primary One and Two students to the environmental damage to ecosystems for our Secondary Three and Four students.

While providing a firm foundation of knowledge, we have not forgotten our key focus – English. In RG Channel, we do not drill the children, but we teach English skills to our students. We teach a variety of different skills and strategies as each child is different in the way they process information and knowledge. During the course of their lessons, we try to get the child to find the most effective strategy for their individual needs. Of course, in the trial class, we are not able to showcase all the possible skills that we teach – we teach your children a sampling of the English skills. This may range from simple ways to learn spelling to ways to dissect a comprehension passage. All these will be demonstrated in the class.

Finally, we also provide students with tools to learn better. We will be using a simple yet very effective way of taking notes and understanding materials to underpin our lessons. Your child can discover for themselves the virtues of this system – Cornell Note Taking system. We have modified and updated it so that your child can learn better and effectively.

We believe that the trial classes give a glimpse of what we offer in our normal classes. At the same time, your child will be entertained.

What is the RGC Road Map?

We don’t believe in leaving things to chance at RGC Future School. We believe that academic excellence requires a road map to guide their learning. Building this map requires a comprehensive and holistic look at the entire journey from Primary One to Secondary Four as academic excellence is a marathon and not a sprint.

How do we do it?

First, we analyse the national examination syllabus from SEAB and the core syllabus from MOE. From there, we can evaluate how the curriculum specialists in MOE connect different topics and content, and how these content and topics are taught and tested.

Read More…

Gifted Tutor?

Recently, a tutor from a tuition school was told to stop advertising himself as a student of the Gifted Education Programme (GEP). MOE ran some checks in response to complaints from parents and discovered that he was neither a student nor a teacher in the GEP programme. Now, he claims to be a relief teacher who helped out in the GEP programme. But no teacher that taught in the GEP recalled such a relief teacher. I wonder how many people were fooled by him and paid top money to learn about strategies to enter the GEP.

I think the most important lesson that we can take away from this is to check the credibility of the tutors that you employ or the tuition centres that you enrol your child in. I mean, just because somebody is able to rent a place doesn’t make him automatically qualified to teach.

I always have copies of my academic certificates (my BA, MA and PDGE) at hand. And any teacher employed by RG Channel will also have copies of their certificates on , But so far, nobody who has enrolled in RG Channel or made enquiries ever asked me to produce my certificates. This makes me wonder how many children out there are taught by unqualified and unprofessional tutors.

In RG Channel, we believe that having qualified teachers is not enough. We want qualified and well-trained teachers who are also ahead of others in pedagogy knowledge. Other than planning my lessons, teaching and other business-related work, I spent a large part of my time doing research on pedagogy, consulting with my ex-colleagues, who have provided a lot of useful information so that I can continue to improve. At RG Channel, we believe that our teaching methods must always be the most effective and the most efficient.

Primary One Registration

It is going to be Primary One registration in a month’s time. Is your child due to be registered into Primary One this year and you are still confused over the phases? Let me try to help parents to clear up their doubts. The following table lists each phase:

Primary One Registration

Phase 1:
For a child who has a sibling studying in the primary school of choice
Phase 2A(1):
For a child whose parent is a former student of the primary school and who has joined the alumni association as a member not later than 30 June 2011ORFor a child whose parent is a member of the School Advisory / Management Committee
Phase 2A(2):
For a child whose parent or sibling has studied in the primary school of choiceORFor a child whose parent is a staff member of the primary school of choice
Phase 2B:
For a child whose parent has joined the primary school as a parent volunteer not later than 1 Jul 2011 and has given at least 40 hours of voluntary service to the school by 30 Jun 2012ORFor a child whose parent is a member endorsed by the church/clan directly connected with the primary schoolORFor a child whose parent is endorsed as an active community leader
Phase 2C:
For all children who are eligible for Primary One in the following year and are not yet registered in a primary school
Phase 2C Supplementary:
For a child who is not yet registered in a school after Phase 2C

All the above are the phases for children who are Singapore citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents. However, if there are more students then vacancies in each individual phase (for example, there 40 vacancies for Phase 2B, but there are 50 applicants), students will be enrolled based on the priorities as stated below:

  1. Singapore Citizen living <1km
  2. Singapore Citizen living between 1-2km
  3. Singapore Citizen living >2km
  4. Permanent Citizen living <1km
  5. Permanent Citizen living between 1-2km
  6. Permanent Citizen living >2km

Primary One Registration

In other words, Singapore citizens living less than 1 km will fill up all the places, followed by Singapore citizens living between 1-2 km and so on and so forth. It is very possible that Permanent Citizens might not even get a chance!

It might also be possible that after enrolling all applicants in the earlier priority, the remaining applicants cannot fit into the number of vacancies in the current priority. For example, there are 6 vacancies left, but there are 8 applicants who are Permanent Citizens living less than 1 km away from the school. In cases like this, since they have the same priority, a ballot will take place.

How does one know if the school is less than 1km or more? Go to the OneMap SchoolQuery Service managed by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) to look for information.

Finally, there is Phase 3 which are meant for children who did not get into any school based on the earlier phases. Children who are foreigners are also in this phase. If parents want to read up more information, please go to MOE’s Admissions webpage for more information.

Best of luck for your Primary One registration!