Gifted Education Programme: Development and Growth

The Gifted Education Programme (GEP) was first implemented in Singapore in 1984. It was initiated by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in line with its policy under the New Education System to allow each pupil to learn at his/her own pace. The Ministry of Education has a commitment to recognize, nurture and develop the potential of each pupil. This means that it must provide an education of quality and relevance which stimulates individual growth and helps pupils realise their full potential.

1981

The late Dr Tay Eng Soon, then Minister of State for Education, led a mission to study the gifted education programmes in other countries. This mission’s findings strengthened the belief that there was a compelling need to start a programme for gifted children in Singapore. A programme for the intellectually gifted is not unique to Singapore. Countries such as the United States, China, Russia, and Israel have also developed programmes to nurture the intellectually gifted among their pupils.

1983

A concept paper was drawn up providing the rationale and objectives of a programme for gifted children. The GEP would be for the intellectually gifted. The paper also described the proposed structure for such a programme, discussed the identification of teachers and the process of selection of pupils for the programme. What was proposed was an enrichment, not an accelerated, programme.

In May, the Special Project Unit, now called the Gifted Education Branch, was formed. The team’s main tasks were to select pupils and teachers for the GEP, train the teachers, prepare the new curriculum materials as well as implement the programme and monitor its progress. The team received training from a specialist in gifted education from the USA. A consultant was also attached to the unit.

1984

A pilot project was started in 2 primary schools, Raffles Girls’ Primary School and Rosyth School, and 2 secondary schools, Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) and Raffles Institution.

1985

Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) became the third primary GEP centre.

1988

Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) became the third secondary GEP centre.

1990

Nanyang Primary School became the fourth primary GEP centre.

1996

Dunman High School became the fourth secondary GEP centre and Tao Nan School, the fifth primary GEP centre.

1997

Henry Park Primary School became the sixth primary GEP centre.

1998

Catholic High School (Primary) and St. Hilda’s Primary School became the seventh and eighth primary GEP centres.

1999

The Chinese High School and Nanyang Girls’ High School became the fifth and sixth secondary GEP centres, and Nan Hua Primary School, the ninth primary GEP centre.

2001

Victoria School became the seventh secondary GEP centre.

2004

The Chinese High School, Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) and Raffles Institution offered their Integrated Programmes (IP) to Secondary 1 to 3 pupils. Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Nanyang Girls’ High School offered an option for IP at the Upper Secondary level. GEP pupils who opted for IP were placed in intact classes where their needs were met through School-Based Gifted Education (SBGE).

SBGE is a 6-year programme offered by IP schools. These IP are designed and implemented by the schools with specialist advice from the Ministry of Education. These programmes culminate in the A-Level Examination for The Chinese High School, Nanyang Girls’ High School, Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) and Raffles Institution and in the International Baccalaureate for Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).

Dunman High School and Victoria School offered the GEP from Secondary 1 to 4, while Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Nanyang Girls’ High School continued to offer the GEP from Secondary 1 to 2.

2005

School-Based Gifted Education (SBGE) was implemented from Secondary 1 in 6 IP schools: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Dunman High School, Hwa Chong Institution (formerly The Chinese High School), Nanyang Girls’ High School, Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) and Raffles Institution. NUS High School of Mathematics and Science became the first specialised school for Mathematics and Science. Their 6-year programme culminates in the NUS High School diploma.

MOE’s Secondary GEP was offered in 4 schools: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Dunman High School, Nanyang Girls’ High School and Victoria School.

For the primary schools, there are still 9 GEP centres.

2006

Seven IP schools continued to offer School-Based Gifted Education (SBGE). These 7 IP schools are Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Dunman High School, Hwa Chong Institution, Nanyang Girls’ High School, NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) and Raffles Institution.

MOE’s Secondary GEP is offered in 3 schools: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Dunman High School and Nanyang Girls’ High School.

For the primary schools, there are still 9 Primary GEP centres.

2007

School-Based Gifted Education (SBGE) was offered in 7 IP schools: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Dunman High School, Hwa Chong Institution, Nanyang Girls’ High School, NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) and Raffles Institution.

MOE’s Secondary GEP was offered in 2 schools: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Nanyang Girls’ High School.

The Revised Gifted Education Framework was implemented.

The GEP maintained its current model of self-contained classes for the top 1% of the age cohort in its 9 Primary GEP centres.

To provide greater interaction with age peers in the mainstream, Nan Hua Primary School and Tao Nan School piloted 2 different models of integration for their Primary 4 classes, while the other 7 centres introduced specific measures to promote interaction between GEP and their non-GEP schoolmates.

The branch organised centrally run programmes to cater to the needs of Primary 4 mainstream high-ability learners in English and Mathematics. For English, there were the Language Arts Festival and National Spelling Championship. For Mathematics, there was the Mathematics Carnival.

Professional development opportunities were provided for the Primary mainstream teachers of high-ability learners. The Foundation Course in Teaching High-Ability Learners (FCTHAL), Certificate for Teaching Pupils of High Ability (CeTPHA) and Certificate of Gifted Education (COGE) were mounted for these teachers.

2008

School-Based Gifted Education (SBGE) is offered in 7 IP schools: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Dunman High School, Hwa Chong Institution, Nanyang Girls’ High School, NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) and Raffles Institution.

MOE’s Secondary GEP is offered in Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).

The centrally run Secondary GEP will be phased out by end 2008.

All 9 Primary GEP centres have introduced initiatives to promote greater interaction between GEP and non-GEP pupils.

The Gifted Education Branch will continue to organise centrally run programmes for Primary 4 mainstream high-ability pupils in English and Mathematics and extend these to include the Primary 5 pupils.

For English, the objective is enrichment through greater exposure to the Language Arts at the Primary 4 level. At Primary 5, there is a specific focus on the development of oral skills through a more sustained programme, Wits and Words. For 2008, the focus is on developing the oral skills needed for debate. This is done through training provided in debate workshops and participation in the inter-school debate championships.

For high-ability pupils in Mathematics, there will be the Mathematics Carnival for Primary 4 and the Mathematics Trail for Primary 5. These activities aim to introduce pupils to Mathematics beyond the classroom and to let them see the real-life applications of Mathematics. To encourage pupils to carry out innovative and creative work in Mathematics, 2 project competitions, 1 for Primary 4 and another for Primary 5, are being conducted.