The English curriculum in Gan Eng Seng Primary School is based on the national STELLAR (STrategies for English Language Learning And Reading) curriculum developed by the Ministry of Education (MOE). Being one of the schools selected to embark on this pilot programme in 2006, STELLAR has been implemented in Gan Eng Seng Primary School at all levels since 2011.
The vision of STELLAR is to develop in children the love for reading and a strong foundation in the English Language (EL). It aims to strengthen children’s learning of the English Language and promote a positive attitude towards reading by using engaging and age-appropriate strategies and instructional materials. Through the STELLAR training and mentoring programme, it empowers teachers to teach children the critical life skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in English.
The STELLAR programme is designed to deliver the outcomes of the EL Syllabus 2010. English is taught through stories and texts that appeal to children, with explicit grammar instruction. Students are provided with opportunities to express themselves in an environment where language learning is enjoyable yet purposeful.
Supporting Lower Progress Learners
(A) Learning Support Programme (LSP)
LSP is an early intervention programme designed by MOE and offered in all primary schools at Primary 1 and Primary 2 to provide additional support for students who enter Primary 1 with very little foundation in EL. Since the enhancement in 2007, the programme focuses on the following five components: alphabetic knowledge, knowledge of sound-letter correspondences, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. These components have been found by research to be critical in helping students in early primary grades learn to read and spell.
Students are identified for LSP through a systematic screening process carried out at the beginning of Primary 1. The support is implemented in the form of a daily one-period pull out for small-group teaching. This support continues in Primary 2 unless the student has met the criteria for discharge at the end of Primary 1. LSP lessons are conducted only by trained Learning Support Coordinators (LSCs).
(B) School-based Dyslexia Remediation (SDR)
LSP students who have not met the discharge criteria at the end of Primary 2 are systematically screened for a reading disability, dyslexia. SDR provides specialised support in language learning for Primary 3 and Primary 4 students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia. This programme was introduced by MOE in 2012 with Gan Eng Seng Primary School being a pilot participant. SDR instructors undergo rigorous training to be equipped in providing this specialised support which takes place four times a week. Group size for teaching is kept very small to ensure individual attention so that each student may progress at his/her own pace. When these students learn the necessary skills to cope with their reading disability, they will be able to surmount obstacles in language learning to achieve new heights.
(C) Reading Remediation Programme (RRP)
RRP was introduced by MOE in 2014, again with Gan Eng Seng Primary School as a pilot participant. The programme serves to provide continued support for LSP students at Primary 3 and Primary 4. It also identifies other students at these levels who need additional support in their language learning. RRP teachers receive training to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills for their small-group teaching, which focuses on word recognition, reading, spelling and reading comprehension.
The STELLAR curriculum is supplemented by a school-based curriculum which has been designed to meet the needs, abilities and interests of our students.
I. Reading Milestones and extensive reading efforts
Reading Milestones is a whole-school intensive reading programme launched in 2018 founded on the principle of differentiated instruction to systematically raise students’ reading competencies. At every level, students are individually placed and assigned reading material appropriate to their levels. The programme is conducted weekly. At the foundational part of this programme, LSP students undergo buddy reading using graded material. The EL teacher in each class monitors the progress of the students.
Reading Milestones is supported by a range of extensive reading efforts, including collaboration with the National Library Board (NLB), which began in 2014, to encourage the pleasure of reading amongst GESPians. Each year, an NLB librarian presents different topics on reading at assembly talks. NLB also supports the school in the following:
- Mass registration of Primary 1 students as NLB members
- NLB mass borrowing sessions
- Reading Ambassadors training for Library Leaders
- kidsREAD programme
II. Oracy Programme
To complement the teaching and learning of listening and speaking skills during their EL lessons, GESPians undergo a structured oracy programme which spirals upwards from the basic oratorical skills to the more complex. The common objective across the levels is to enable students to communicate effectively before an audience with confidence.
The skill focus for the levels is as follows:
P1 – Choral Reading & Poetry Recitation
P2 – Show-and-Tell
P3 – Speech and Drama
P4 – Readings’ Theatre
P5-6 – Persuasive Speech
P4 Readings’ Theatre
III. Writing Programme
GESPians undergo a systematic handwriting curriculum, which includes cursive handwriting. This enables them to read a variety of handwriting styles and write in their adopted style with speed.
As students develop in their literacy, they undergo a skill-based curriculum that takes them through different writing skills so that they will be competent writers of narratives at the end of Primary 6. Some of these topics are: structure of a narrative, ways to begin a story and replacing commonly used words with more descriptive words and phrases.
IV. Learning Journeys
In collaboration with Mathematics and Science Departments, integrated learning trails are planned for GESPians so that they can apply their knowledge and skills outside of the classroom and in different contexts for authentic learning.
Each year, students on the Financial Assistance Scheme who demonstrate positive attitude in learning get to attend a play or musical at a public theatre so as to expose them to the use of language in performing arts.
V. Stretching the Higher Progress
Higher progress students are provided with more challenging material for teaching and learning, such as the international assessments by UNSW. At the upper primary level, they have literature enrichment lessons and additional newspaper reading for discussions.
Professional Development for Staff
The GESPian EL teacher is equipped with a range of STELLAR strategies. Our in-house STELLAR Teacher Mentors ensure that teachers who are new to the level receive the necessary training and beginning teachers are closely mentored so that they can deepen their expertise in engaging the students. EL teachers also receive training in assessment – both formative and summative – so that they can effectively ensure that students are learning well.