S.T.E.M Domain? What is that?

You are attending a DSA talk by a popular secondary school. They are talking about the revised domains that the school will be offering from 2017. There are the usual domains such as Sports, Aesthetics, Bi-lingual and S.T.E.M. Wait . . . what in the world is S.T.E.M? How will my child be able to qualify for this domain when she is only 12 years old!

Don’t despair, let me explain in layman terms what it all means. This abbreviation is well-know to many who are in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths because it was introduced years ago in the United States to encourage students to focus more in these areas of studies. When it was introduced in the United States, it was considered “the next big thing” in education. The reasoning behind STEM education is that the United States was not preparing  sufficient number of students, teachers and practitioners in the STEM fields. Secondly, their industries needed more workers in these fields due to an aging workforce and an increasingly innovative world market.

Now this sounds very familiar especially since our Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong said that he wants to convert Singapore into a “Smart Nation”. Thus we are in need of workers who are able to work in STEM fields and are innovative as well. So, how does all this result in a secondary school coming up with a STEM domain for DSA?

Let me try to enlighten you on the logic behind this choice of domain. When the Education  Minister announced that IP schools should not offer academic domains for DSA, it places IP schools into a conundrum because they need highly proficient students to DSA into their schools. Without strong academic abilities especially in Maths and Science, the school will have difficulty preparing students for the A’levels with a focus on these subjects. (In general the humanities students are usually fewer in these schools or discouraged to take this route, if possible). So how can a school create a talent for students without non-academic talent?  The answer is S.T.E.M.

This domain is so broad that many students including GEP students can easily select this domain and successfully get a Confirm Offer (CO). The range of abilities that can fall under this domain are plenty and very subjective. After all IP schools still have full autonomy to make the final selection.

So what will students learn to do if they are place in the STEM programme? Hopefully they will be taught how to apply their knowledge to real world problems. After all that is the original purpose of a STEM education.

So how should you position your children’s list of achievements to quality for this domain? You can use the strategy describe below to help you submit an attractive application to the school:

  1. Excellent results in Maths and Science. (In STEM education, success in science and maths is important. Technology and Engineering is only integrated into the syllabus when appropriate.)
  2. Maths Olympiad and Science Olympiad successes make a great impact on your child’s application. (Students must also know how Maths and Science are used to solve real world problems. This question will most likely be asked during the interview.)
  3. Other areas of achievements/abilities to enhance your application:
    • Creativity, Design and innovation (All those E2K school projects/competitions where students had to create and build something is going to come in useful now)
    • Robotics
    • IT skills (e.g. coding which is the rage now)
    • Problem-solving skills
    • Critical thinking skills
    • Able to work in teams
    • Public Speaking Skills (You need to be able to present your project ideas)

The good news is that 2017 is the first year this domain is introduced so they will focus more on those students who show a strong ability in Maths and Science. In the following years when it becomes a more popular domain, they will start looking beyond just Maths and Science and look for qualities similar to those I have highlighted in bullet no. 3.

As more schools start announcing new and unique domains, I will try to break it down  into layman terms for everyone. All the best on your DSA journey.

Regards,

Jackeline Carter (Public Speaking/DSA Coach)

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New Talent Development Communication Programme – starting January 2018

Dear Parents,

DSA selection process will be focusing on talent and not academics from 2018. Many children who will be going through DSA selection in 2018 are caught in a bind especially if they have not focused on developing a talent.

Moving forward, I will be introducing a Talent Development Communications Programme that will help students who will be attempting the DSA route in 2020 and 2021. Soothsayers may say it is a little too early to prepare for DSA however I beg to differ especially if you intend to develop a talent in your children. Talent development takes a few years especially if it is in the area of Public Speaking and Debates.

As the commitment on the part of your children will be 2 to 3 years, it is recommended that you only enroll your children in Talent Development if they have a love for public speaking, debates and creative writing or it will be extremely stressful for your children.

In order to ensure the success of every child who signs up for Talent Development, I will personally be coaching these classes. As my schedule is limited, I may only be able to offer one class per grade. Children in the regular LAMDA and Trinity College Communications classes will still be taught by the other highly qualified trainers at our centre. I will  return to teaching primary students full-time from January 2018 while the teen classes will be taught by Ms Joyce Carter.

(This will be the last year I will be teaching teens for a while so if you would like your teen to take my class this year, there are still 7 places in the Trinity Grade 4 class for Semester 2 starting in July 2017)


Here’s a timeline for Talent Development Programme starting in January 2018 (for students born in 2009):

Year 1 – (Primary 3)

Semester 1 (January to May 2018) – LAMDA Grade 2 (Foundation skills 1)

June Holidays Workshop – Preparation for SPAF 2018 competition (Creative Writing and verse Categories)

Semester 2 (July to Nov 2018) – LAMDA Grade 3 (Foundation skills 2)

Year 2 – (Primary 4)

Semester 1 (January to May 2019) – Trinity College Grade 2 (with focus on competition training in the areas of Story-telling and public speaking)

June Holidays Workshop – Preparation for SPAF 2019 competition (Creative Writing, Public Speaking Categories)

Semester 2 (July to Nov 2019) – Trinity College Grade 3 (with focus on Impromptu speaking and Current Affairs )

Year 3 – (Primary 5)

Semester 1 (January to May 2020) – Trinity College Grade 4 (with focus on Debating)

June Holidays Workshop – Preparation for SPAF 2020 competition (Creative Writing, Public Speaking and Impromptu Categories)

Semester 2 (July to Nov 2020) – Trinity College Grade 5 (with focus on Success principles.)

Year 4 – (Primary 6)

Semester 1 (January to May 2021) –  DSA Preparation for the following Domains:

  • English
  • Communications
  • Creative Expressions
  • Public Speaking and Debate
  • Bi-lingual
  • Creative Writing/Literary Arts

Here’s a timeline for the Talent Development Programme starting in January 2018 (for students born in 2008) :

Year 1 – (Primary 4)

Semester 1 (January to May 2018) – Trinity College Grade 2 (with focus on competition training in the areas of Story-telling and public speaking)

June Holidays Workshop – Preparation for SPAF 2018 competition (Creative Writing, Public Speaking Categories)

Semester 2 (July to Nov 2018) – Trinity College Grade 3 (with focus on Impromptu speaking and Current Affairs )

Year 2 – (Primary 5)

Semester 1 (January to May 2019) – Trinity College Grade 4 (with focus on Debating)

June Holidays Workshop – Preparation for SPAF 2019 competition (Creative Writing, Public Speaking and Impromptu Categories)

Semester 2 (July to Nov 2019) – Trinity College Grade 5 (with focus on Success principles)

Year 3 – (Primary 6)

Semester 1 (January to May 2020)  – DSA Preparation for the following Domains:

  • English
  • Communications
  • Creative Expressions
  • Public Speaking and Debate
  • Bi-lingual
  • Creative Writing/Literary Arts

Students in the Talent Development Programme are encouraged to participate in communications/writing competitions through their schools and public competitions. All students are also strongly encouraged to take the Trinity College Graded examinations for each grade in order to aim for the High Achiever Award from Trinity College London. For those who show a strong creative writing ability, they will be encouraged to participate in The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.

This programme focuses on developing communication talent and confidence in primary students to prepare them for the rigors of IP and Specialist secondary schools.

If you have any questions about the Talent Development Programme, you may email me at carter@jcartercentre.com

For students who are in Primary 4 this year, you may enroll in the Trinity Grade 2 class with competition training  starting in July 2017. There are still 2 places left. I will personally be teaching the class. Please call 67372700 to register.

Regards,

Jackeline Carter (Founder of J Carter Centre for Public Speaking)

Talent

Our talented students

Direct School Admissions – FAQ

2016 saw many changes to the DSA selection process and it was certainly a trial run to test out upcoming changes to the DSA system in 2017. Competition for IP schools was the toughest since its inception in 2004 due to increase applications. At the end of the 2016 selection process, there were many surprise outcomes as well as disappointments among the parents and students who undertook this route.  As the new year approaches, the rat race will begin all over again for students talking the PSLE in 2017. The enquiries are coming in and the same questions are being asked by a new cohort of students and parents. Preparation has already started for some while others are just beginning to consider attempting DSA. To start off the new year, I have put together a series of FAQs to help you understand this process better and to save myself the need to sound like a broken record. If you have more questions which I may be able to answer, you can post it on the Contact Form. So, lets get started.

What are the chances of my child getting a spot in an IP school without attempting DSA?

The chances are very good if your child has constantly attain excellent results since Primary 4 in all subjects. This will most likely mean that your child will achieve a T-score ranging from a possible high 250s and above. This will allow your child to meet the COP (Cut- off Point) of IP schools. The most coveted schools are RI, RGS, NYGH, HCI and their COPs range from 258-264. If your child’s academic results tend to fluctuate , there will be a 50% chance that your child can still meet the COPs of the other IP schools. The other option is to opt for coveted Express schools such as MGS, ACSI, CHJI St Nick, SJI, VS and SCGS as their COPs range from a high 240s to mid 250s.

From your personal experience, what were some of the lengths a parent would go through for their child to succeed in DSA?

If money is abundant, the sky is the limit. Even if that is not the case, parents will make sacrifices to ensure their children have a chance of entering a coveted school. It can start as early as kindergarten if the aim is to help the child develop a talent or life skill. Enrichment classes in areas such as sports, music and ballet are most common however parents are now moving towards developing communication and leadership skills in their children. The easiest way to figure out what kind of enrichment classes to consider is by looking at the domains offered by IP schools during the DSA selection process. Most parents do develop their children’s talent in one area if it shows up early in a child’s life however as many children are late developers, talents are usually discovered much later when they are in Primary 3 or 4 and some in secondary school. As such some parents will not leave it to chance and start placing their children through different enrichment courses in order to discover it. Its like being in a maze and you have to keep walking until you find the middle. Some times you take a wrong turn so you just have to double back and start all over again. This is a very expensive option so I don’t recommend it. Also your child will be extremely unhappy being forced to attend lessons that do not interest them.

Tuition (or in some cases ‘cram’ schools) with ‘Super Tutors’ are not uncommon. This is another expensive affair. Six years ago, some of my communication students told me that they would work with 10 to 14 different tutors per week but now a days the number has reduced to 4 to 7 tutors per week.

Competition is another popular area – the more the merrier! Well maybe not so merry for the children unless they are competitive by nature. Private competitions are becoming more popular as schools tend to select the same group of students for school base competitions leaving out many students who are keen. There are also many different types of competitions from Academic, Arts, Sports and more. The entry fees are usually affordable however once the children compete at the International level, it becomes very expensive.

Which group of children embark on the DSA selection process and why do they choose this route?

In the early days of DSA, GEP (Gifted Education Programme) and Sport students make up the bulk of the applicants. Now a days, anyone will try DSA if they are aiming for the IP track because these schools take in up to 50% of their students through DSA and the Specialise Schools like SOTA, NUS HIGH, SST and Sports school take in 90% to 100% via DSA.

I understand that the application process differs from school to school. Can you take us through the process briefly?

You are correct! Every school has their own unique selection process. The simplest only requires an application (usually Express Government Schools) while others require the the addition of Personal Statements, Portfolio, GAT/Subject testing, Half-day selection and Interview. If your child chooses the sports or performance domain, there will be trials and auditions. (Mostly IP schools). Specific information can be found on the school’s website.

The government recently announced some proposed changes to the DSA selection criteria. What is your reaction to the proposed changes? Will it help reduce stress?

Starting from 2017, DSA selection will have more emphasis on talents and less on academics. This is a return to the original purpose of DSA which is to provide talented students an opportunity to enter a coveted school without needing to achieve the required T-score.

Will this reduce stress? Yes, if we are looking at Express schools. More students will have a chance of securing a place with a lower T-score if they are talented in some area. No, if the goal is to enter an IP school. No matter how talented your child is in one area, academics still plays a major role. If students do not have good academic ability, they will not be able to complete the IP programme and will be place in the O’level track. Should too many students in an IP school end up in the O’level track, the standard and reputation of the school will be affected. So IP schools will try to take in those who are not only talented but show an ability to survive the academic rigours.  This means parents will spend more time and money developing a talent as well as focus on academics if the goal is the IP track.

The upcoming changes will also encourage more students to attempt the DSA selection in the hopes of getting a place. Thus competition will be tougher. 2016 saw a spike in the number of students attempting DSA. Many IP schools also started implementing changes to the selection process in 2016 as a test run before the official announcement in 2017.

Will GEP students still receive priority during the DSA selection in 2017?

I don’t know the overall percentage of GEP students getting a CO (Confirm Offer) in 2016 but I did notice more of my main stream students getting a CO or wait-listed in 2016. Those who were wait-listed received a CO after the PSLE results were released. Many of my students’ parents also gave feedback that fewer GEP students in their children’s schools received a CO from coveted IP schools. So, it may be safe to say that GEP students need to offer more than just academic achievements unless it is in areas such as Math/Science Olympiads.

Do you think DSA should be removed entirely?

Singapore believes in meritocracy and DSA is really about meritocracy. If one has the ability, one should be given the opportunity. Over the years, had it not been for DSA, 50% of the students that I have coached in Communications skills would not have gotten into IP schools because of the high T-scores.

The DSA process is also a learning journey for students who attempt it as they learn valuable life skills while preparing for the selection process. Skills such as persuasion, social interaction, problem solving, interview etiquette to name a few. All this will come in useful even if they do not receive a CO.

Getting a CO also means less stress during PSLE for both students and parents. With less worry, students end up performing better in the examination.

If I want you to coach my child on Interview Skills, how can I contact you?

You can click this link and submit your request. If my service matches your child’s need, we will instruct you on how to do the online booking.

http://jcartercentre.com/dsa-booking/

If we are unable to help you, I will advise you on how to move forward.

Here’s wishing everyone a successful DSA journey in 2017!

Regards,

Jackeline Carter

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DSA Preparation Course (2017) – Semester 2 Open for Registration

Latest update:

Dear Parents,

Registration for DSA Preparation Course Semester 2 is now open for registration. Details about the course is listed below. Classes are filling up fast. Please call our centre at 67372700 or email info@jcartercentre.com for registration details.

Class Details

Sat, 1/07-11/11          12:30 – 2:00       2*   (New Class)

Sat, 1/07-11/11          4:15 – 5:45       FULL*

Sun, 2/07-12/11        10:00-11:30     FULL*

*Vacancy

Registration is only on a first come first serve basis. Recommended for Primary 5 (2017) students only.

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Dear Parents,

We are officially launching our new 19 weeks DSA Preparation Course in January 2017. This course includes many activities that are conducted by various IP schools during the Direct School Admissions Selection Process. Jackeline Carter designed this course with the help of parents and students who had previously gone through the DSA process successfully. As every school conducts DSA differently, she has tried to incorporate as many of the methods used by all the schools so that the students will be ready for any of the schools. It also includes preparation for Trinity College Graded Examination in Communications – Grade 3 (Group Disscussions). You can include this certification  in your child’s portfolio to highlight your child’s communication ability.

Jackeline Carter will also work hand in hand with parents to ensure that all work is completed on time and to brief the parents on how to help their child prepare for DSA. Direct School Admissions are becoming more competitive and students can no longer achieve success on their own. Support must come from both parents and trainers. Follow up support will be given to all students after the conclusion of the course through email and updates.

This course is suitable for students who are keen to attempt DSA in 2018. dsa-prep-courseHowever, if your child is extremely shy and has difficulty sharing their views and opinions,  it may be advisable to sign up for one to one coaching in Primary 6 so that the trainer can focus solely on your child.

We have included a feedback from one of our parents whose child has benefited from one-to-one coaching:

Hi Jackeline,

Hope this finds you well. 

Like to share with you that N______ was offered a confirmed place in SOTA for Literary Arts. She is pleased and the family is very proud of her. I am over the moon that her efforts have reaped results and that she is able to pursue an area that she is interested in, on her secondary education journey. 

The interviews for visual arts and literary arts were gruelling – although she did not describe much about the respective auditions, I could tell from her expressions after, that she had a difficult time at both visual and literary interviews. I am just so proud that she was resilient enough to pull through them. Getting a place is really a bonus achievement. She has since been working hard to prepare for the coming exams. 

Would like to thank you for guiding N_____, and for being patient and flexible with her during her 3 sessions with you in May and June. Though her lack of response limited her getting the most of your usual DSA preparation, your modified approach to her reserved personality helped to prepare her for what to expect and boosted her esteem and confidence. 

All DSA Preparation Courses will be taught by Jackeline Carter, author of Success Strategies for Direct School Admissions – DSA. Currently, there are limited spaces left in two of the classes. If your child is in Primary 6 in 2018 and would like to attempt DSA, don’t wait any longer, call our centre at 67372700 to book your place. We are opened from Tuesdays to Fridays – 11 am to 7 pm, Saturdays – 10 am to 6 pm and Sundays – 10 am to 4 pm.

*From 2018 onwards, schools will not require students to take a GAT test so this segment will NOT be covered in the course.