Here’s my 2cents worth… including some feedback from my frens with kids in GEP in various schools. One thing we need to bear in mind is that there is no PERFECT school…. I am not perfect either… no perfect child, parent, teacher, country… and no perfect school.
Our personal opinions are that do not look into just p4 or p5 years BUT also look into how the school prepares your child for PSLE. For GEP kids, even if you get DSA you still need to pass Social Studies and obtain a T-Score of 250 to continue having the GEP scholarship (benefits…). For some schools the children stay back only 2 days in the week for supplementary and the kids do very well… and some schools the children have supplementary and remedial to 5-6pm … and if your child needs remedial for 2 subjects… then at least 2 days a week the child has to stay till 5-6pm. Is the supplementary and remedial effective? Does the child feel motivated, tired and demoralised? Or would a tuition centre do a better job? Supplementary lessons in PSLE is merely going thru the worksheets or practice papers the child had done at home…. self-marking of papers and with some comments or advice. For Maths paper, a lot of time the more able children are asked to go to the board to do the problem sums to show the other children. The P6 year is important & crucial year.
I recall MOE said that allocation is also dependent on distance of school from home. However if you really like that particular school, even if you are not given that choice….. you can appeal. I do know of someone who appealed for a few weeks before being granted the choice school. In 2006, MOE sent a letter to our home to inform the school alloted and it was 24 Nov. If you really want that choice school, do type out the valid reasons and attach to your form and submit it. In that way, you stand a better chance of being granted the school of your choice.
Firstly, before selecting the school, perhaps it might be good to look into whether an all boys or all girls or a co-ed environment. Pros & Cons include :
All boys – all the male hormones… very active, rowdy… but then the boys can be boys; have great frenship; need not worry about the fairer gender etc …. they wont be so "outstanding" as in a co-ed (mixed) school…. where the boys are "blamed" for many things. The boys hate that… ‘cos the girls can be wild too. In all boys school, the discipline can be loud and stricter…. to manage these kids. They can grow up more like boys into man… tough, resilient… Also no distraction from the girls…. girls mature faster and at end p4 to p5 the girls are already talking about the birds and the bees…. some even gone into pornography…. so curious about the opposite sex… puppy love…. and some parents are in the dark.
All girls – girls can be girls… a little rough… and they won’t be so conscious that there are boys around. Girls are generally better in languages and may not do as well as the boys in Maths & Science. The pressure is not so great on the girls in an all girls environment. Girls can develop their confidence. They can speak freely in an all girls environment without fear to feel they might have asked a question which the boys (being less matured) might laugh or make silly comments and down her self-esteem.
Co-ed schools – you get both views… girls and boys… in your project work etc. But then I think kids these days are so exposed and they read so much, they are well informed and they can contribute very well. So this would not be such a major factor.
So all in all it depends what kind of child you have and how you want to benefit from the environment the child would be in.
Some input on some schools we know.
Every year only about 10-12 vacancies. So it’s tough but you can always try if you like an all round, character building school. Even with the huge number from both ACS Barker and ACS Junior going into ACS GEP, the vacancies for p4 next year in the mainstream, it is very difficult to get non-GEP kids in…. We heard some even offer a donation up to $40k after they got in. Wow! Why so popular? The good character building program they have in the school. School with secondary school next door…. fantastic swimming pool… cafe… they got class!
We have a few friends boys in this school. Teachers are fantastic, very dedicated. There is a very able Math teacher who is very good in math…. however she may lack the tact some expect but she is one of the best math teachers around. She is frank and has a good heart. They did excellently well for math olympiad all these years. Maths Interactive came in only this year. However this teacher is really good in math olympiad. Prior to Maths Interactive coming to the school at the end of last year, the children were already doing very well for math olympiad. If your boy is very strong and advance in math, Catholic High has the means to help your child. In 2007, 2 boys were accelerated for Maths… NUS High was too far and the school arranged for them to attend Sec 3 Maths in the secondary section. Catholic High is flexible. Almost all the project works are done in school, guided by the teachers. So parents can sit back. However if the children continuously slack in some areas or being forgetful, parents would be informed…. GEP of all levels – combined – have yearly camps… and it is great fun… character building… The boys love some of the male GEP teachers very much… very fatherly… even though one of them, an old boy, is not yet a father. Lots of leadership opportunities for GEP kids. They have very good English, Math, Science and Chinese teachers. Social studies?? Improving…. The class size is usually kept to 20-22. And that’s very good. Regarding CL and HCL – they do allow CL at p4…. but they want the child to attend lesson in the same class as the rest. For PSLE, they work very closely with the children… on Oct 9, after the CL paper, the teacher had a special session to work with them on the final paper – SCIENCE. It was taught by the HOD of GEP herself … a very good Science teacher. Kids don’t need to stay back unnecessary… computer enrichment (few sessions), CCA days … oh yes, they have a niche in asthetic…. lots of opportunities to perform… they excel in all areas in music… be it choir, strings, chinese orchestra, band, and their modern dance is really very very outstanding. PSLE preparation ends by 4pm… leaving kids enough time to rest, do homework (practise papers). Secondary school next door….. have running track (no swimming pool) and tennis courts, children playground too…. longkang fish, lots of science gadgets…. Principal is now on 2nd and likely 6-yr term with school…. probably to complete what he started. The secondary school has already came up TOP…. The Old Boys are back every weekend in the school to interact and also to do work for the school.
Teachers are fantastic too. In this year p6 cohort, there are 2 very high functioning austistic boys…. they are doing very well. Class is rather small compared to other GEP centres. In this graduating batch… there’s 18 boys and 1 girl in each of the 2 classes. Heard the math teachers are very hardworking…. they would prepare the children well ahead of the common tests to ensure that the children would score well. Many of the children would get full marks for Maths – well that’s the only subject that kids can get full marks. No story about Boys over Flower though… If your child has a special need, perhaps it might be good to send your child to a school who have the experience and patience to work with the child. Heard that MOE suggested to parents of a special needs NHPS GEP boy to transfer to HP but parents declined.
They have RECMEL who is the biggest operator for math olympiad training for schools… I read somewhere in the forum about a Haikal… I was told that both Haikal and his brother Farhan were trained by RECMEL. RECMEL does not have any centres serving the general public. It is owned by a DR CHUA who personally train the team in NUS High. The fees are very reasonable compared to all other centres. The children in Rosyth too excel very well for Math Olympiad. If your child is very articulated and good in English and would be interested in debate…. this is THE SCHOOL for debate…. they have very outstanding and dedicated teachers to train and groom your child. Every year, Rosyth excel in debate. Have a field though small for the boys to play soccer. They also use an external trainer for math olympiad (ex-Rosyth teacher) who only teaches in schools.
Don’t know much except you do get good debators and the girls do extremely well in all subjects compared with the other top performers in the other centres.
Again don’t know much. Heard that they also uses RECMEL and a very good external trainer (ex-rosyth teacher) which Nanyang and Tao Nan and Rosyth uses.
Again don’t know much except New Principal. Have very good Maths Club and program….. have very good external trainer (ex-rosyth teacher) too… and use to use RECMEL too. A Hokkien Huay Kuan school…. the Huay Kuan is very rich so they don’t need to pay and pay like some schools….. Have very good bi-cultural program.
The overal GEP TOP performer each year comes for each level comes from this school. Class size can be 25-28 due to great demand to be accepted into this school. Heard they even had up to 107 in some cohorts…. divided into 4 classes. A friend’s son who gets bored rather easily was sent out of class … contemplated to move out… but stayed on… he was among the TOP 15 PSLE performer in that year. Another friend’s son… talks a lot… was also asked to leave the class…. he too did rather well in PSLE. It’s not easy to handle a big class when it comes to the gifted kids … too many sparks from these bright sparks!! They have very good transport system… school bus goes everywhere… the west, Sengkang, Pasir Ris, … Woodlands… There is specific CCA days and also days alloted for supplementary and even for PSLE preparation – Mondays and Tuesdays only. Check on their computer enrichment – heard it previously done in the morning at 7am… and some during curriculum hours. They have a very very outstanding Science teacher who is currently HOD of Gifted too. Very good in weiqi, gymnastics… Mainstream had a fantastic prgm for p5 whereby the children go over the China for 2 months…. 2 months no SA2. Wow! Not sure whether the GEPers can participate in that? Nanyang principal Mdm Heng from 1 Jan 10 going over to Nanyang Girls High. New principal Mrs Lee Hui Feng from NHPS. Heard they are building their indoor sports hall and need to raise funds…. but the school has so many VIPs, entreprenuers and rich parents…. do not think they have problem.
They have form class as well as TAG (talented and gifted). GEPers are twinned with the high ability children in form classes… they have all subjects in form classes except for ENGLISH, MATH, & SCIENCE. So some of children physically move to another class – stretching time… some friends don’t like that… viewing that as wasting time… some likes it… giving the kids some time to breathe. Hence they have 2 form teachers… one for form and the other for the EMS subjects. They stay back 4 days out of 5 days, Thursday compuslory enrichment for p3 to p6. Holistic enrichment which also means your child would be EDUSAVE bankrupt by end of each year and you need to use cash to pay for other compulsory enrichment. Some enrichment like roller blading whereby your chld may already know how…. but then it’s fun for the kids.. blading with their friends. Most field trips fall on Thursday slot. CCA starts at 3.30pm, allowing the mainstream kids to have their remedial first. Hence the CCA usually ends at 5.30pm. Your child would need to be fairly independent and very importantly disciplined to use the time wisely from 2pm to 3.30pm to do homework. Most of the time the children would play. Good and bad…. let them relax some may say… some would say it’s a long day and when they get home they are too tired to do their homework. Supplementary lessons for PSLE year… can be up to 4pm and if with remedial it is up to 5pm… on occasions 6pm. Heard they help a POST PSLE activity recently for movie-making and the kids enjoyed that. Very good in volleyball and table tennis…. Chinese dance. Recently Wushu has some good results for one or two boys who took extra lessons from Ong Chin Hai at Cairnhill… (sorry not sure how you spell that artiste name). Principal Mrs Lee Hui Feng will go over to Nanyang Primary from 1 Jan 10.
It would be good to go by the school during dismissal hours to speak with some parents who may be waiting for their children to hear first hand information from them. Catholic High is already on year-end holidays… so you won’t be able to do that.
Most important… pray for guidance. All the very best to all parents who are attending tonight’s briefing. Remember there is no perfect school. We decided to share because we only wish we knew about this blog earlier and some would share like you guys. Hope it helps!