The Integrated Programme (IP), also known as the through train program, was first implemented in 2004 in some of the top secondary schools and junior colleges of Singapore. It allows students to by pass their GCE 'O' Level examinations, which is the norm in Singapore’s Secondary education, and take their GCE 'A' level examinations or equivalent directly after 6 years of study.
The programme was initiated because students at these top schools felt that the time spent on revising for the GCE 'O' level examinations could have been better used to enrich their education and allow them to take part in more extra-curricular activities. Besides, taking two major examinations, the GCE 'O' Level examinations and the GCE 'A' Level examinations, with only a two year interval was deemed unnecessary and very stressful. Furthermore, the absence of 'O' levels in the students’ timetables would mean that teachers would be able to go deeper into their subjects or cover more subjects, thus the student will receive a more broad-based education that would have greater practical value to the student in the future.
Integrated Programme is currently offered in 10 schools, 3 of which are Junior Colleges.
The schools are:
Raffles Institution (RI)
Raffles Girls School (RGS)
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) (ACS(I))
Hwa Chong Institution (HCI)
Nanyang Girls High (NYGH)
NUS High School of Mathematics and Science (NUSHS)
Dunman High School (DHS)
River Valley High School (RVHS)
Victoria Junior College (VJC)
Temasek Junior College (TJC)
National Junior College (NJC)
Models of Integrated Programme
Each school offers a different variety of Integrated Programme, which can be generally classified into three models:
In the three Junior Colleges, VJC, TJC and NJC, offering the programme, students are selected via a screening test, created by the school. Successful candidates will be admitted to the school at secondary three and go on to complete their education in the respective Junior College, culminating in their GCE 'A' level exam.
ACS(I), NUSHS, DHS and RVHS offer a six year programme starting from Secondary One. At the end of the six years, ACS(I) students sit for the International Baccalaureate exam while NUSHS students receive the NUSHS Diploma. DHS and RVHS students will sit for the GCE 'A' Level examinations.
The Secondary schools with strong affiliations with other secondary schools and Junior colleges, offer an IP that lasts for six years, from Secondary one to JC two. Currently, Raffles Institution, Raffles Girls' School Secondary together with Raffles Junior College, form an affiliated “family of schools” and offer the Raffles Programme. The Chinese High School merged with Hwa Chong Junior College to form Hwa Chong Institution, and together with NYGH, offer a different integrated programme.
Impact of Integrated Programme
Students that are accepted into the Integrated Programmes are often those who have performed well academically, especially in their Primary School Leaving Examination. This is because schools assume that those who bypass their ‘O’ Levels are able to cope with it in normal circumstances and would also be able to cope with their ‘A’ Levels.
Due to the bypassing of GCE 'O' level examinations, about six months curriculum time is freed up in the process and there is now greater flexibility in lessons. Furthermore, extra subjects could be taught or existing subjects could be delved into further. Subjects and topics usually studied at Junior College level can now be pulled down to Secondary Four or even Secondary Three, and greater time can be allocated to these subjects that would enhance their understanding of the subject and better prepare them for the A levels. All syllabuses would also include more project work with emphasis on practical skills and thus more opportunities would be available for students to engage in creative thinking and developing talents, which would have been spent on constant revision where no new input is generated.
Views of Integrated Programme
A recent controversy over the Integrated Programme is that year 5 students from IP schools like ACS(I) and HCI are now allowed to compete in the 'B' division of inter-school sports competition and this has led to many non-Integrated Programme schools to protest against this "unfair" ruling as these top schools were considered tough to beat in sports and are now deemed a near “invincible” especially in sports like rugby and water polo.