Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sandcastle Building for VS Student Leaders

Well, it seems we enjoyed Sand Castle Building so much during our CIC that we chose to take part in the Sand Castle Building Competition organised by Beautiful Minds. Due to lack of participants, the event was cancelled but being Victorians, we still gamely showed up to lend support and show everyone that Victorians see things through. A group of Sec 4 student leaders from the Camp Instructors and Peer Support Leaders showed up just to enjoy themselves for a day before mugging for their pre-lims (part 2) after the June holidays

We started out with laying the basic foundations: sand, water and lots of pressure from compacting.

We split into a few groups to try and come up with different ideas. As the 'gang-leader', my castle got to be the best right? But alas, that was not to be. Our attempts at building the highest sandcastle tower met with the same tragedy at 9/11.
See our tragedy unfold:
Not to be daunted, the Victorian never say die attitude, we try again. This time things started to look much better- or so we thought:

And so we tried again, and again.
(At this point, I decided not to film any more- cos the bl@@dy results were the same. haiz)
Well, at least the other group got something done.

Look at their sprawling complex- can actually send them to take over the design of the uncompleted campus of New South Wales at Changi South after those buffons pulled the plug on their poor students unannouced and left them high and dry.
You can do everything right, but your castle may still crumble- life is unfair, we got to deal with it and accept it sometimes.

Well after that, we were all hungry so we proved a fact that 13 VS boys can finish 6 pizzas in under 15 mins flat. That is a proven fact.

Life-lessons learnt today: Shovelling sand is a highly technical job.

Contrarary to popular opinion shovelling sand is not an 'unskilled job' for 'unskilled laborers'- its a damn technical task, man! You need to drive power from your hips while keeping your arms loose enough to fling the sand at the right place.

Fill your shovel with too much sand, and it gets stuck and you strain to lift it from the ground. Too little and your taking a million scoops just to gather a small mole-hill.

It's good for us to labour hard every now and then (and I'm not talking about looking good and sweating it out in the air-con gym at Planet Fitness), I'm talking about getting your hands dirty with the people around you and working through sweat and grit.

Every drop of water tastes sweeter after that and man, pizza never tasted so good!

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Eat with your Family Day" - Foreign Scholars Outing

Today is "Eat with your Family Day" and as the ASEAN and A*Star scholars under me are foreign students living in Singapore, I have decided to bring them out for a movie and then we go makan together. Originally, we had planned to watch Spider-Man 3 together before the exams but as I was overseas in UK, we've postphoned it till now.
Spidey 3 was kinda a super-emo movie for me- felt it tried to do to many things at the same time:love story, action plus horror. Ya, the cheap shock value scenes got irritating after a while.
Peter Parker trying to sort out his relationship with Mary Jane and Harvey Oswald (Green Goblin) was kinda like My Sassy Girlfriend on Brokeback Moutain in Nada de Sou Sou.

But the effects were cool - in fact, the updated Goblin gear is sooo much cooler than Spider Man's gooey snow-balls that he fires.

The entire gang had an intersting time despite some clowns getting scolded by me for not showing up at the last minute. Boys, many times you take things for granted just because you are not the ones paying for it or investing your time. A sudden no-show leaves me with a wasted ticket, 2 no-shows leaves me with 2 wasted tickets. It's not a lot of money and it's budgetted for under our fund for enrichment and bonding activities but we should never take this for granted- there are other students in the world that never get this kinda of opportunity, where every day they have to walk 2 hours to school and count it a blessing that they have rice to eat.

Luckily, there was a young couple busy staring at each other in the eyes in the lobby, so I ask them if they would like to have the tickets with no strings attached. But I warned him that they would be sitting with all our rowdy boys- hope we didn't spoil their romantic moment but at least we were able to put the tickets to good use and allow other people to enjoy a good movie.

Can't wait to watch Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers and Shrek 3!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Know Your Secondary Schools Day" at Tampines North Pri School

Today, I had the opportunity to go to Tampines North Pri School with some of our students to do a 'road-show' and promote Victoria School to P6 students. With me were some old boys from Tampines North- Shahrudin and Rifdi, both Staff Sergeants in the NCC.
As you can see, having their 'big brothers' come back to talk to them proved to be a big hit with the boys! It was a vibrant scene at Tampines North Pri as 16 schools had set up their booths and parents were treated in-depth look at the various offering from the different secondary schools in the East Zone.

For some reason, many P6 girls seemed to be captivated by our booth- felt kinda bad when I had to break it to them gently that despite rumors, VS still is and will continue to be a boys school :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

OPWS for Sec 2A

We've just completed our Online-Project Work with Sec 2A. Some of our groups have created interesting websites that you might be interested in visiting.

Dashpi volunteered to help out at the SPCA and their project on Pet Care can be found here at

Group No Link did a project to promote Healthy Living and their blog can be seen here at

Eclipz rendered their services to groom pets for their neighbours and family. You can see the process and reviews from satisfied clients at

E_mc2 decided to create a public education kit on Natural Disasters and how to enhance personal safety. They put together a personal survival kit for less than $12 and you can find their site at

Meepoz also focused on the environment by creating a website dedicated to educating the public on the danger and harmful effects of pollution. Their site is at

Hope you enjoy these samples of students work from Sec 2A

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

GCE PE Study Trip to UK- Day 8 @ Old Trafford Stadium

So it's our last day in the UK and we're about to leave for Singapore tommorrow. What's a better way to end the trip than for us to take a trip down to Old Trafford- the one and only home of MAN UTD! They were just presented with the Premiership Cup yesterday, so it'll be an interesting trip. This was such an interesting trip that I decided to dedicate an entire post just to it.

They had just given away the Player of the Year Awards so there was still a lively buzz around the place (even though they had a dismal performance against West Ham yesterday)
Although, I didn't get a chance to see any of the players, I did manage to get my picture taken with Alex Fergurson.

Ok fine, maybe I didn't get a chance to take a picture with the 'REAL' Alex Ferguson. But I did get a chance to take a photo of Alex Ferguson's car- now that's real!

Check out the view from outside the stadium:

Once inside the stadium, we went on to tour the Man Utd History Museum:

You know why football teams always travel in 2 planes now? Cos in 1958, in Munich, a plane crash took the lives of many promising players from Man Utd, including Duncan Edwards- it's for this reason that teams travel in halves nowadays.

When we managed to enter the stadium and go on the tour, a little kick-about was going on between some of the sponsors and we managed to catch the tail end of it:

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to catch an actual match here? Cool rite? Well, wait till you listen to our guide, Alan, give you a price list for season tickets (1 British Pound is about $3 Sing- you do the maths):

From our guide Alex, we learnt that Old Trafford has just gone through some renovations to increase the seating capacity to 76000.

We got to move down closer to the pitch and stood where the West Ham supporters were during Saturday's match :) Alan gave us some interesting facts about how the pitch is maintained and kept in tip-top condition.

We also got a chance to move down into the VIP seats: where the important big-shots and directors of Man Utd sit:

With so much people coming in and going, the place was surprisingly neat and we were suprised when we were told that there are no dustbins in the stadium for security reasons(i.e. bomb threats)- everyone's encouraged to throw all their rubbish on the ground and an army of cleaners comes in 3 times during match days to clean it all up. They even got designated chewing gum disposal areas :P

Also check out the Ground Rules for the stadium:

Got standard, right?

As we proceeded with the tour, Mr Sng was over come with emotion as he thought about how much he missed his good friend, Discipline Master-Mr Thirumaran, an ardent Man Utd supporter, back in Singapore. So Mr Sng decided to send him a heart-felt greeting just for him from the UK.

(Sorry Maran, I just the camera man lah...)

We had a chance to also go into the press room at Old Trafford, where they meet the reporters and members of the media:

We also saw the changing room where the players do their pre-match briefing and preparations:

To round up the trip, we actually made the walk down the players' tunnel leading to the pitch itself. We found out why that there is new tunnel construction and why the old tunnel from the changing roon is no longer used:

Alan, our tour guide, got all the children to walk down to the pitch with the arms in the air and with crowd noises in the background, cheering them on. Quite a treat for these young football fans:

All in all, it was a great tour and a good way to round off our time in the UK. We're flying off to Singapore the next day and will be back at VS on Thu, ready to go!

Let me leave you with some final words from Chelsea to Man Utd-

GCE PE Study Trip to UK -Day 8 @ Ruskin Sports College

We travelled to Ruskin Sports College today to see how their GCE PE O Levels were run as well as their BTEC PE programme.

We were met by Nicola Topley, the Deputy Head Teacher and Director of the PE programme there. Ruskin has a wide range of students with mixed abilities and they use PE as a model to teach language, science and maths. For example: students might be asked to interview a local sports club for their English paper. We also saw their BTEC PE programme. The BTEC accredidation is worth 4 subjects at GCE O-levels and is based entirely on course-work. It was formulated with to allow students who need a more hands-on approach the breadth and depth to learn through self-discovery, at their own pace and to decide the mode of their learning.
Here we see Nicola assigning work for her BTEC class:

Much of the BTEC involves students setting their own assignments in consultation with their teachers. So students are not spoon-fed answers but rather required to work them out for themselves- this requires more attention from the teachers and also a much smaller teacher-student ration than we are used to in Sinapore: i.e. here it is 1 teacher to 10 students for BTEC

After seeing the BTEC theory class, we saw a PE lesson in Ruskin. Again, we see the boys and girls being split up and taugh in seperate groups such that they are able to be less self-conscious and also allowed to develop at their own pace.

It is interesting to see how students are assigned not only leadership roles in class but also teaching roles as part of their learning process. Here we see the girls, taking turns to lead warm-ups with their partners and discussing the motions of the fore-arm swing with their teacher.

After PE, we had a small tour of the school and were shown the various sporting achievements of Ruskins by a group of students.

Last but not least, we had the distinct pleasure and honor of meeting with Carol Hackman. Carol is an examiner and moderator for GCSE PE with the AQA Examination Board. Carol is part of the pioneer group of teachers that developed and implemented the syllabus for GCSE PE from its initial inception all the way back in 1979. In fact, the revision guide that our hosting schools recommended, was actually written by her! (Mr Sng and I made sure we got here to autograph our copies.. heh heh, power!)

Carol gave us a strong and direct insight into the assessment process of GCSE PE and although the AQA is a different board from the one that schools in Singapore will be subsribing to (we are folloing the CIE board- Cambridge International Examinations and the format of both our practical and theory papers will differ from both AQA, Edexcel and OCR boards in the UK) it was a fantastic experience to be able to talk to her and glean her insights into the teaching and assessment of PE.

It was really a fantastic way to end our study trip by having the chance to converse and dialogue with one of the pioneers of the GCSE PE program in person. Our thanks to all the hosting schools: Eaton Bank, Sandbach Girls and Ruskin Sports College

Mr Sng and I made sure we took a glorious photo with Carol before we left- after all, she did write the much acclaimed and vital GCSE PE Revision Guide- our 'bible' in the coming years.

Monday, May 14, 2007

GCE PE Study Trip to UK- Day 6&7 Weekend Visits

After an intense week of lesson observations, sharing, resource gathering- it finally came to the week end. We spent most of Saturday just lazing about, recovering from the late night at the prom on Friday. Tried to out to Manchester and Chester on Sat but unlike Singapore where bus and trains come every few minutes, we realised that the bus and train schedules left early and returned late-so we settled for a trip to the town centre instead.
On Sunday, I took a visit to the Church next door to our inn. It was a lovely church and I spent a few minutes there enjoying the peace. All around the church were graves- some of which were of soldiers from Congleton that fought and died in WWI
Later in Sun afternoon, Jon Proctor picked us up and we went to visit Chester. Chester held remnants of Roman architerture and we had a good tour of the place, seeing how an eclectic mix of Roman, Tudor and modern housing integrated together in the town.

Jon gave us an insightful view into some of Cheshire's rich and colourful history- how it has developed over the years, some local history and lore:i.e. how the canal locks are used to raise and lower water levels in the transport of pottery, the differentiation between county and town, etc.

After the tour of Chester, we headed over to meet with Matt and his family. Finally, I got to see his dashing baby boy Adam and lovely wife, Jill. Matt also introduced me to his buddy Jim Pugh and wife, Viv. Jim does Shotokan Karate and we had a great time talking and chatting about martial arts (Jim, really enjoyed talking to you-too bad we had such a short time together. Hope we get a chance to train together in the future!)

We then adjourned to Jon's house for some dinner and met his wife Amanda and his 2 lovely children: Jonathan and Amy.

For some strange reason, little Amy took to us like a bee to honey. She showed us her toys, and showered me and Mr Sng with lots of hugs and kisses.

She was such a lovely little child and really brightened up our day! She was incredibly chatty for a child of only 4 years old. In Singapore, we'd say she's very 'manja'- a term used to describe someone (usually a girl) who's able to plead, persuade and cajole you to anything she wants.

It was a great pleasure and honor to be invited into the lives of Jon and Matt's respective families. Tomorrow we're off to visit another specialists sports school and in the evening, we're off to Old Trafford stadium! Yes, the home of Man Utd!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

GCE PE Study Trip to UK - Day 5 Prom Nite

In the evening at 6.30pm, Mr Sng and I were decked out in our finest and together with other teachers from Eaton Bank, we headed to Shrigley Hall for the Year 11 Leavers Prom.

The boys were dressed up in their tuxedos and the girls in elaborate gowns.

Shrigley Hall was a like a huge manor house, getting to the ballroom involved going through a maze of corridors and climbing up flights of steps.

Over the course of the year, the staff here at Eaton Bank have the same challenge that we do in reminding their students to maintain the standards of their attire. Like us in VS, they're constantly reminding all of you to tuck in your shirts, wear your ties properly- It was a refreshing change to see all the boys looking smart and dandy; and all the girls done up nicely

Tonight, was definitely a night for staff and student to let their hair down. A hilarious point in the night came as I was queueing up for drinks. Having had such wonderful care and hospitality shown by Matt and the team, I went to the bar to get us some drinks and was asked by the bar tender for my ID. Looks like all that qigong stuff keeps me looking young.

Soon the dancing started, and it was almost as if it was Retro-night at Zouk- they played everything from Macarena, to the Ketchup Song and yes, even YMCA-

One enthusiastic teacher, Jo, from Matt's IT department managed to drag me up to the dance floor. Despite my protests that the only dancing I do was Lion Dancing (see, I was mercilessly dragged onto the dance floor. I tried to divert some of Jo's attention to Mr Sng using the force diversion techniques of Tai Ji, but Mr Sng's internal strength as too strong as he laughed gleefully while watching me being dragged off.
The lucky thing is this is MY blog and I'm the one behind the camera, so you all don't get to see me look as if I'm having an epilectic fit in the middle of the floor, or stomping on ants in.
Yeah, go ahead and laugh boys, but if one day I come back to Singapore and make you do some folk dancing during PE, we'll see who's laughing. heh heh. (I can just see Xiang Ting and Wei Liang doing the Ha'Tsiporim Chicken Dance)
Towards the end of the night, 2 girls took the stage to sing their tribute song to their teachers- some of whom had taught them continuously from year 7 till now for the past 5 years.

Staff and students were all in high spirits as the night closed to an end, Matt Hogan and fellow teachers at Eaton Bank High School sent all their regards to our teachers back in Victoria School

It was kind of a bizzare and surreal experience as we walked out the door, seeing these gradudating students start addressing their teachers by their first names. I guess, this marks a transition to adulthood and it subsequent acknowledgement by their adult teachers. Victorians, that is where we differ and where we are proud to differ. You will notice that when Mr Ho Kiat Chong was teaching in VS, many of his former students had also become teachers in VS. Teachers like Mr Tan Chong Kiat, Mr James Wong Wai Lit, etc- they still refer to him as Sir or Mr Ho. When I see my former PE teacher in VS, Mr Azman; I still call him 'Mister Azman', never 'Azman'.
It is not that we teachers seeking to lord it over you, but rather I see it as one of the important values in our Asian society where the Chinese say, "一日为师,终身为父” Meaning, "A day as a teacher, a lifetime a father to you"

So Victorians know that when you graduate and return to VS, your status as a Gentleman is not diminished by the fact that you still call us 'Sir' or 'Mr XX'; rather, it is an acknowledgement that the teacher-pupil bond in VS is a perpetual one. For once a Victorian, always a Victorian.
We see our roles as teachers extending beyond the classrooms and into your lives, so boys when you meet your teachers in the street and still aknowledge them by 'Sir' or 'Mr'; we know that the bond we had in school is still there.

So unless one of you boys ends up marrying one of my grand-aunts and thereby obtaining a senior position in the Siow family, making you my elder; then it'll be fine if you call me Randell Siow to my face- and I'll call you Grand Uncle

But until that unlikely day happens, I'll expect all of you boys in Victoria School to address ALL TEACHERS teachers as 'Sir', 'Mdm'.

When my own teacher comes to VS to help me train the wushu team, and you see me having my personal training with him- is it ever thinkable or conceivable that I would address him by his first name?

I don't think so, not unless I want to get the stuffing kicked out of me. For those of you who've met him, and seen us spar, you know that he is still someone I hold in awe and respect.


Friday, May 11, 2007

GCE PE Study Trip to UK - Day 5 @ Eaton Bank

Last night, we were brought by Jon Proctor, the E-Learning Consultant to the Cheshire County Council for a fabulous dinner at the Lock 57 Bar and Grill. During the dinner, it was a good time to meet up again with the entire delegation of UK teachers who visited Singapore during their TIPD attachment in Feb. I had a great time catching up with Jon, Rebecca and Lorraine as we only met briefly during their time in Singapore. We discovered that we shared quite a bit in common with each other: from our love of sci-fi, comics, to popular culture. Indeed it was a good time to catch up and reminiscence.

We spent another eventful day at Eaton Bank. Today, we were shown how the PE Dept incorporates IT in their PE lessons. They use a program called Swinger which is a motion capture software that is able to do a multitude tasks: It can playback video capture at various speeds, flip the image so that left-handed students copy the movements shown by right-handed demonstrators, extract frame-by-frame still images of video captures

Here we see Stewart showing us the Deja Vu feature of the Swinger software. What this does is cache the video input from the camera into the Laptops harddisk and play back the footage on a pre-determined cycle. So basically you can shoot yourself doing a gymnastics routine, come back immediately 20sec later and see the same 20sec footage played back in a loop.

This gives athletes real-time feedback on your performance and allows you to make instant refinements to your technique and see where you went wrong.

As we were heading back to the staff room, we chanced upon a group of students prancing about on the outdoor picnic tables- we wondered what it was all about and discovered that it was an outdoor dance lesson!

It was good to see the students interacting with the school environment and using the facilities so creatively.

During lunch time, we had the opportunity to meet up with Paul Roberts, the Head Teacher and Ann Web, the Assistant Head Teacher.

What is interesting is that here during lunch, a teacher is rostered to watch over students, maintain order and discipline, and also to interact with them. It was really heart warming to see Paul Roberts the Head Teacher being rostered for duty. We followed him as he did his lunch time duty stint at the canteen. I am sure that having the Head Teacher visible during lunch and being rostered on the lunch time duty roll makes an impact to both staff and students as well.

Tonight, we will be joining the staff and students for their Year 11 Prom. It promises to be an interesting event.

GCE PE Study Trip to UK - Day 4 @ Sandbach Girls High

Today, we were picked up bright and early by Linda Hopkins from Sandbach Girls High School. There is both a Sandbach Girls High School and a Sandbach Boys High School. The Girls High School is a specialist school for Sports, so we were very excited to see how PE was taught there.

First off, we were given a tour of the school premises by 3 charming young ladies from Linda's Form class. They were Hannah, Sue and Spasnia (hope I spelt it correctly)- I'll let them introduce themselves to you here:

First off, we saw the 6th Form Student's Lounge- 6th Form is their equivalent of A-levels. The senior year groups have their own student lounge where they can hang out, study and organise events. It is their place and they take ownership of it.

Next we saw the Sports Hall. Now when we talk about sports hall here in the UK, we mean a HALL. Check out the size of this one.

Some of the teachers at Sandbach were telling me that it gets difficult to fit in the students when it rains here (weather can be quite temperamental) as 3 classes makes the place crowded. I shared with them, that their 3 classes probably comprise of 25 students each, maximum- so we are looking at 75 students in the hall. Back home, if we got to squeeze 3 classes of you boys into the hall, it's a 120 of you. Simply no comparison.
We can see that with this size of hall, you can even have batting and fielding games. Here we see some girls having their lessons in Rounders:

We also saw their astro turf tennis/hockey pitch. This will be a good model for VS when we get our artificial pitch this year.

Back home in Victoria School, we've got the SPRINT@VS pupil activity centre which has become our Sports Performance, Research and Injury Treatment centre and lately, has also come to serve as a theory class room for Lower Sec PE Theory. We got a chance to look at their dedicated PE Theory Classroom in Sandbach-

Other than their sporting events, Sandbach also has a proud and fine tradition of creative arts- they have a student art gallery here specifically to showcase student art work. I'm sure our AEP (Art Elective Programme)boys and teachers would relish the thought of having something like this back in VS.

Their D&T course work is also really happening! We met up with one of the teachers who explain that they make and race electric cars for D & T. Their body kits are made of carbon fibre, electric gear transmission, chain driven, twin-battery engine! Hearing this brought out the 'cheong-ster' in me and I had to take a closer look.

All this car needs now is a Mugen spoiler, 17in rims, Brembo brakes and we are set to drift!

After the tour, we had our first lesson observation for the day. It was swmming in Sandbach's Indoor Pool- yes, they actually have an indoor, heated pool!

The students were are looking at are Year 7 (equivalent of our Pri 6) and already some of the higher ability ones are being taught how to swim the butterfly!

Hmm.. should get some of you boys back home to start trying- maybe we can try using the Eco-pond for a start- with Mr Chia's permission of course.

Then it was back to the Sports Hall. The teachers here really make innovative use of the huge space. One reason for the need for huge indoor spaces is that the weather here can be a bit unpredictable, with sudden light showers and rain, so with a big indoor sports hall, they've also developed a comprehensive indoor athletics program. We observed a very interesting steeple chase event in the indoor sports hall.

How it works is that every team has to do 50 laps round the hall, negotiating through the various hurdles and 'water-traps' (i.e. gym mats).Each team decides who runs first, how many laps each girl runs, how and when they switch. Team that completes first wins.

Knowing you boys back home in VS, you all probably will get one poor bloke to run 40 laps, then the rest of you 'lepak' and slack in one corner, right:)

After such an eventful day, it was off to recess. During recess, they have sports leaders in-charge of getting students to play. This sports leaders will take charge of loaning equipment from PE dept and organising their own sports clubs, teachers will also supervise students who are interested in refininig skill in any of the various sporting disciplines.
Here we see some girls practicing hurdles and tennis:

Most of these activities are student initiated and the girls are the ones who approach the teachers with their own interests. After some coaching from their PE teachers (and Mr Ian Chew from Singapore:), we see Jasmine here with a marked improvementin her hurdling technique.
After recess we had lunch with the PE staff and shared our different experiences with each other.

After lunch, we observed 2 theory classes for GCE PE: one was the O-level class going through mock exam papers, the other was an A-level class.
In the O-level class, we see how teachers guide their students to give very specific answers for the PE theory paper and that the rigour involved here is no different from any other academic subject.

In the A-Level class taught by Zoey, we had a most engaging time. Zoey had taken the trouble to prepare game cards utilising the Trivia Pursuit format and use this a mode of revision for her A-Level students.

We were equally engrossed in the game as we struggle to remember concepts we studied in our NIE days: Like "What's the medulla oblongata and what does it do" Any guesses?
No, boys, it is not a dirty word- go check up your biology text books :(

It was indeed an good and fruitful day at Sandbach Girls High School and we thank their Head Teacher Mr John Leigh and the lovely, Linda Hopkins our liaison there for making this such a wonderful and eventful day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

GCE PE Study Trip to UK - Day 3 @ Eaton Bank

We began Day 3 at Eaton Bank High ready to do some observations and find out more about how their PE program in general was conducted and in particular how GCE PE was implemented concurrently with curriculum PE.

We started the day at the Staff Room and it's really nice to see the way everyone strolls in and greets each other. The atmosphere is really bright, cheerful and congenial.

Apparently, the teachers gather this way every morning- they come in, have their breakfast, meet-up with each other. And during this time, the can also have their own version of contact time. Now, their version of Contact Time is really time for staff contact- everyone from the Principal to various members of the staff take turns to raise any issues of importance to the rest of the staff. Short, sharp and sweet, chop-chop: in less than 30mins they're done. When Matt was here and heard about our 3hr contact time at VS, he found it simply unbelievable. During this time, we were briefly introduced to the staff.

Looking round the staff room, you can understand why Contact Time for them is so brief- all important notices are put up and it is everybody's onus to make sure they read and know what's going on. This is something we in Singapore can learn from- in a system that prides itself on efficiency, we ironically tend to be very long winded in our meetings. What we need to emulate from our English counterparts is the need to be concise in word and deed.

At the day progressed, we had the priviledge of follow and observe PE lessons by Mr Nigel Brownsword. He was taking his class of students (equivalent to our Lower Sec) for 200m sprints and the Triple Jump. When Mr Sng and I saw the field, the first reaction was "Wah, their field really got standard" The grass is soft, and you've got dandelions growing! What do we have growing in our field? Rocks.
Their track is also 'super-imposed' on their field. Check it out as we see Nigel bringing his class through the warm-ups

Although the school is co-ed, classes are split according to gender. So Nigel takes the boys while the girls are handled by another teacher. They have 2 hours of PE everyweek - yes, 2 HOURS! We were very impressed with the very systematic learning progression with which the children were introduced to the skills needed. Here Nigel elucidates upon the finer points of the starting position for sprinting (with help from Mr Sng and Mr Ian:)

Once the boys have got the hang of it, off they go and it's time to race:

The second part of the lesson was an introduction to the triple jump. This has always been one of the more complicated events in Track and Field to teach as it involves multiple movements and switch of legs in the jumping process. Nigel made it easier by introducing conceptual tags to the process by breaking the Triple Jump action down into its component sections and giving the students an easy label for each component: HOP, SKIP and JUMP.
Students were asked to define each component: ie a 'hop' is jump and land on same leg, 'skip' is jump and land on other leg, and 'jump', is well... you jump with both legs lah :)

Once the students got the hang of it, Nigel made a novel use of the sandpit to allow more students to participate at the same time. He conducted the jumps perpendicular to the length of the pit- after all the emphasis here was on the development of good jumping technique and not a competitive measure of their skill.

At the end, Nigel got the boys to huddle round and gave a debrief of the learning points to the students. Sitting down on the soft grass, in the cold air- you could see that the kids really enjoyed themselves. Certainly the environment plays a great part in the good conduct of PE lessons and it is evident that the PE teachers here are able to maximise the wonderful surroundings in creating an atmosphere of learning that brings students in touch with each other and the environment around them.

Don't be mistaken, PE in UK isn't just about a 'feel good' experience. Everywhere in te playing areas, we have found very clear rubrics and guidelines for the assessment of skill and performance.

Tomorrow, we are headed to Sandbach High School- it's an all-girls school so it should give us a different perspective as compared to how PE is conducted here in Eaton which is a Co-ed school. More updates to come- I'm sure some of you (i.e. JY from wushu) can't wait for me to update our day at the girls school.
JY- don't bother denying cause I can see you drooling right now. Heh heh.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

GCE PE Study Trip to UK - Day 2 @ Eaton Bank

Early in the morning, I woke up and decided to go for a morning jog to enjoy the fresh air. Taking a leisurely 15 min jog in the cool English country air, I hardly broke a sweat as the temperature was about 10 degrees celsius. The nice view of the countryside, the cool morning breeze and the fresh air made it a great way to start the day.

At 11.20, Matt Hogan, my buddy from the UK TIPD programme in Feb and our liaison here brought us to visit his school- Eaton Bank High School. Matt is sorta like my mirror image: I'm a PE teacher with strong use of IT in my teaching; Matt's the Head of IT who teaches PE as his minor subject- Cool,eh:)

There we met up with other familiar faces from the UK TIPD programme that VS help to host in Feb. We met up with Linda from Sandbach High School and arrangements were made for us to visit her school on Thu.

Here you see us, all busy at work, planning the schedule for the next few days (So Boss, you can see us really 'zho kang', we never just come here play-play wan :P)

The major part of the day was spent on a tour around the school, introducing ourselves to the various teachers and staff that we would be observing in the days to come.
Unlike here in Singapore, there seem to be multiple venues of 'free space' that can be used for various sporting or other activities. There were 2 halls, a dance studio, drama studio- all places were students could have the flexibility to work, play and create. Here is one of their sports hall which would serve as a good model for our Indoor Sports Hall which VS will build in 2008

In on of the halls, we were able to see a GCE PE class in action having badminton:

What was interesting was the way assessment rubrics were readily visible to students taking GCE PE. The criteria and requirements for each skill level were clearly spelt out and made available to students:

At the end of the day, we met up with the Head Teacher (i.e. Principal) of Eaton Bank, Mr Paul Roberts. Paul's a die-hard Manchester United fan (and Manchester is just a 2 hour drive away from Congleton here), so naturally the conversation turned to football. We also found out that Cristiano Ronaldo has justed moved to Congleton and was spotted in a pub nearby. Hmmm...

The hospitality this first day was simply great and it looks like everyday will give us more insight into how education functions here as well as how we can share our best practices in pedagogy. Everyone has been most kind and generous to our delegation from Singapore and it looks to be a most enriching trip for us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

GCE PE Study Trip to UK - Day 1 Arrival@ Congleton, Cheshire

On 7th May 2007, 3 teachers left Singapore for Cheshire UK for a 9 day study trip.
They were Mr Sng Yiam Kwee (Sports Secretary-Victoria School), Mr Randell Siow (Subject Head: PE-Victoria School) and Mr Ian Chew (Level Head: PE- Catholic High School)
The aim of the visit was to see how GCE PE was implemented in schools there and how curriculum was planned and assessed.
Victoria School and Catholic High are 2 of 6 schools that will be offering PE as an O-Level subject next year .

Our contact for this trip was Matt Hogan from Eaton Bank High School who visited us in Feb during the UK-TIPD programme (check earlier archives in this blog)

The flight took us 11 hours by plane and another 4 hours by car.Our driver, Paul made excellent time along the highway from London to Astbury, in Congleton, Cheshire. As it was a Bank Holiday (the banks are all closed today), he was worried that traffic would be packed from people returning after the long weekend.

Although it was a long journey, the accomodations that greeted us made it all worth it. My good buddy Matt, had booked rooms for us at the Egerton Arms- a rustic English Inn and pub which overlooked some gorgeous countrysides. Check it out:
This was almost a picture post-card perfect image of a London pub set in the shire.

The rooms were simple and elegant: very tasteful but comfortable decor.

It looks to be an exciting week ahead as we head off tomorrow to Eaton Bank for our first tour of the school.