She chose Spectra even before getting her PSLE results

Mr Aaron Poh, 32, a vocational education teacher in Spectra Secondary School, showing Sharon Tan the websites and games she will learn to design if she enrols in the school. This will be under the mobile Web applications course. From left: Sisters Sh
From left: Sisters Sharon, Karen and Jeslynn with their father, Mr Tan Yeong Giap, and brother Jason. Sharon intends to join Spectra Secondary School, where Jason is a student. It was her older brother who introduced her to Roblox, an online multi-player game creation platform, when she was about six years old.ST PHOTOS: JONATHAN CHOO
Mr Aaron Poh, 32, a vocational education teacher in Spectra Secondary School, showing Sharon Tan the websites and games she will learn to design if she enrols in the school. This will be under the mobile Web applications course. From left: Sisters Sh
Mr Aaron Poh, 32, a vocational education teacher in Spectra Secondary School, showing Sharon Tan the websites and games she will learn to design if she enrols in the school. This will be under the mobile Web applications course. ST PHOTOS: JONATHAN CHOO

Sharon set to join brother at school that offers courses like mobile Web apps

When she was about six years old, Sharon Tan's eight-year-old brother introduced her to Roblox, an online multi-player game creation platform.

All through her time in Wellington Primary School, she was hooked. Though Sharon did not know how to design her own games, she loved the ones created by other Roblox users, which included a cooking simulator.

Now 12, she may get to learn how to create computer games when she is in secondary school.

Sharon, who sat the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) this year and qualified for the Normal (Technical) course, intends to join Spectra Secondary School, where her older brother Jason, now 14, is a student.

At the school, Sharon can take up a course in mobile Web applications that could see her design websites as well as program computer games similar to those on Roblox.

"It's nice to learn how to code games," she said.

Spectra Secondary is one of two specialised schools - the other being Crest Secondary - for Normal (Technical) students.

The two schools will introduce a new qualification called the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Skills Subject Certificate (ISSC), where students can take two of five new skills-related subjects over Secondary 3 and 4.

Currently, those in the two schools are limited to one subject.

 
 

The five new skills-related subjects are: mechanical design and automation; culinary and restaurant operations; retail and e-commerce; as well as two areas that are offered to meet growing industry needs - Internet of Things applications and mobile Web applications.

Students can try out modules in each skills-related subject in Secondary 1 and 2 before deciding which two subjects they want to specialise in.

The ISSC will replace the ITE Skills Certificate courses which comprise facility services, mechanical servicing, hospitality services and retail services.

Sharon took English, mathematics and science at the foundation level and was exempted from mother-tongue language classes in primary school on account of her dyslexia.

She is the most introverted person in the family, according to Jason and his younger sisters Karen, 10, and Jeslynn, six.

The four children live with their parents and grandparents in a four-room flat in Admiralty.

Their father, Mr Tan Yeong Giap, 42, is glad that his two older children have options such as those offered by Spectra.

"How I wish I was not born so early. We didn't have these types of schools back then," said Mr Tan, a container equipment specialist who attended ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio.

He works 12-hour shifts and has little time to "manage" his children, he said. His 38-year-old wife is a cashier at a supermarket.

Spectra Secondary principal Krishnan Aravinthan said the new skills-related subjects are meant to give the students a broader base of specialisations to choose from when they go on to ITE.

"We don't want them to narrow their scope so early at an age where they are just discovering their strengths and talents," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2018, with the headline 'She chose Spectra even before getting her PSLE results'. Print Edition | Subscribe