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     FrontPage Edition: Tue 18 March 2008

Assumption Pathway School to start in 2009


Assumption Pathway School to Start in 2009
Students who can benefit more from a hands-on and practical approach to learning will have a new option, besides NorthLight School (NLS), from January 2009. They can opt to attend Assumption Pathway School.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) has been working with the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and the St Gabrielís Foundation to enhance and reorient the programme currently available at the Assumption Vocational Institute (AVI).
AVI will be transformed into Assumption Pathway School (APS) and run the enhanced programme in January 2009. One distinctive feature of the enhanced programme is the residential programme which all students experience for two weeks in each year.
APS will admit students who have failed the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) once or more, as well as students who prematurely leave secondary school. Applications by students who have failed the PSLE once will be considered based on the recommendations of their primary school principals.
In 2009, APS will have the capacity for 300 students, including the current students at AVI. When the refurbishment is completed in early 2011, APS expects to have the capacity for 700 students.
Enhanced Curriculum
APS will design a new three to four-year programme to address the needs and abilities of students who fail PSLE once or more.
APS will focus on providing students with the skills, confidence and learning abilities for them to progress in their education and careers and contribute to society. It will aim to prepare as many of its students as possible to progress to ITE, which offers Nitec and Higher Nitec courses for post-secondary students.
The key elements of the enhanced curriculum include:
a. Stronger Focus on Character Development
Character development will take up a greater share of curriculum time. A focused programme called the Montfort Development Programme, will be introduced to emphasise service to the community, with exposure to sports, outdoor activities and the arts to help students build confidence and teamwork. Students will also be able to acquire life-skills through the experience of independent and communal living during a residential programme for two weeks a year.
b. Academic Foundation Programme to Level Up Students
The enhanced programme will place greater emphasis on core competencies in English, Mathematics and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The school will adopt an experiential and hands-on approach to learning, which will also build on the experience and best practices of NLS.
c. Improved Vocational Programme
The school will have an improved vocational programme with strategic partnerships with leading companies in industry. This will provide students with work attachment opportunities and mentorship throughout their time in the school.
Depending on suitability and needs, students could specialise in more than one vocational area. This would provide students with more skills and choices for progression to ITE and for future employment. In addition to the current ITE Skills Certificate (ISC) courses in Electrical Servicing, Mechanical Servicing and Food Preparation & Service, APS will also introduce a new ISC course in Baking Practices.
Similar to the existing programme, graduates from APS will receive the ITE Skills Certificate. Graduates of APS can progress to further education at ITE, employment or apprenticeship at trade-based institutes.
School Staff
Mr Wee Tat Chuen, currently Vice Principal of NorthLight School, will be appointed as the principal of APS with effect from Jan 09. Mr Wee was the Head of Department for Pastoral Care at Fairfield Methodist Secondary School before his current appointment at NLS.
APS will have a good mix of MOE teachers and current AVI staff who share a passion for working with this group of students. As part of their professional development, these teachers will be sent for relevant in-service training courses as well as attachments to NLS. The new school will also have school counsellors to provide support for the students.
APS will be located at AVIís current site. MOE will invest $28 million to refurbish the site to meet the needs of the enhanced curriculum, including constructing new residential facilities for the character development programme.
In each cohort, there is a group of students who are unable to progress through the mainstream academic school system and are at risk of prematurely leaving school. These include students who are unable to pass the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), as well as students who prematurely leave secondary school. These students will benefit from a programme that is more customised to their learning styles and that addresses their socio-emotional needs.
NorthLight School (NLS) was established in January 2007 to provide a holistic programme that would engage these students. In January 2008, NLS admitted around 340 students in total. Students who had already failed PSLE twice were given priority in admission over those who failed for the first time.
AVI has been serving the community since 1938, starting out as the St Josephís Trade School. It was renamed as Assumption Vocational Institute in 1994 and is managed by the St Gabrielís Foundation. As the only remaining Vocational Training Centre, AVI currently takes in students who have failed the PSLE three times as well as students who have prematurely left secondary school. Students need to be at least 14 years old to enrol into AVI, which currently offers a two-year vocational training programme for about 270 students[1].
During the MOE Work Plan Seminar on 2 Oct 2007, Minister for Education, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced that MOE would set up a Steering Committee to remodel AVI.
[1] Students who leave secondary school prematurely enrol into a one-year programme at AVI.

Source: Press Release 18 Mar 2008

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