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Athlete-Friendly Academic Support Key To Producing Learned Champions

Athlete-Friendly Academic Support

Singapore Sports School’s vision is for every student-athlete to be a champion. To stay true to her core belief of developing the next generation of sportsmen, Sports School therefore strives to provide athlete-friendly support for youths juggling both sport and studies.

The academic support offered at Sports School has been an essential pillar for many student-athletes who have come through the doors at the Champions Way campus as they pursue sport excellence while obtaining an education.

A whole array of support is offered to student-athletes in the secondary and post-secondary levels, which include the provision of academic make-up lessons to student-athletes who have missed classes due to training and competition; small group teaching; supervised self-study time; a customisable academic structure that caters to the needs of high-performing student-athletes; an enhanced mentorship programme to ensure student-athletes are on track towards meeting their sport and academic goals; multiple through-train pathways leading to a post-secondary education; and dedicated staff.

Given the extensive support provided to student-athletes, it is no surprise that Sports School has earned the Athlete Friendly Education Centres accreditation from the World Academy of Sport. The School was first accredited in 2015, allowing us to accept our first batch of student-athletes in the Extended International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in 2016. Only AFEC-certified schools are allowed to offer an Extended IB programme, and Sports School is currently one of 25 schools globally – and the only school in Singapore – to be able to do so.

The Extended IBDP that allowed high-performing student-athletes to complete the IBDP beyond the standard two years was what attracted national squash player Au Yeong Wai Yhann to the Sports School. Having scored a creditable L1R5 of 12 points in the GCE O-Level Examinations, her options for a post-secondary education were not limited. However, with the Extended IBDP, not only would she be able to continue pursuing sport at a high level, she could also attain a broad-based rigorous education.

For someone who is not a stranger to taking an unconventional route – having taken a break from studies after her O-Level to concentrate on sport, the decision was simple.

“Being on the Extended IBDP has definitely reduced my study load and enabled me to continue with a training load similar to that of a full-time athlete (twice a day). I can also travel for competitions without worrying about falling behind my peers after returning to class because my teachers will conduct make-up lessons for me either before or after I travel. With these, I can focus fully during training and competitions, allowing me to give my best in both sport and studies without compromising my health and recovery. I have also been able to compete in more tournaments since joining Sports School, as compared to when I was studying in Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, allowing me to gain a lot more exposure which is important for me to improve,” said the 2018 and 2019 national squash champion. 21-year-old Wai Yhann, now in her final year of her three-year Extended programme, represented Singapore at her second Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines in 2019, adding 3 medals – which includes an individual bronze – to her medal collection. Wai Yhann has reaped a total of 5 medals – 3 silvers and 2 bronzes – from her two SEA Games exploits, but her dream of winning a gold at the biennial Games continues to spur her on.

The athlete-friendly academic support at Sports School has allowed Wai Yhann to aim for success in both sport and studies. For now, her focus is to score at least 40 points in the IB examinations in November 2020. Needless to say, the Sport Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship) recipient has mapped out specific milestones to be achieved over the next few years, such as ranking in the top 80 – and eventually top 30 – in the Professional Squash Association circuit, and winning an Asian Games medal.

Each year, Sports School sees more than a handful of talented youth athletes, with the desire to pursue sport, making the switch from a mainstream school to join us. Those who have taken a similar path by enrolling into Sports School’s post-secondary programmes include artistic swimmer Miya Yong Hsing (IBDP), shuttler Loh Kean Hean (DSLM) and water polo player Goh Wen Zhe (DSPM). All three have competed in at least one edition of the SEA Games during their years of study in Sports School.

In her first year of IB at Sports School, Miya, currently a Yip Pin Xiu scholar at Singapore Management University, won 2 gold and 3 silver medals at the Kuala Lumpur 2017 SEA Games. She joined Sports School after applying through the Direct School Admission for junior colleges (DSA-JC) exercise.

Kean Hean and Wen Zhe also became Sports School post-secondary student-athletes after their successful application in the Polytechnic Early Admissions Exercise (Poly EAE), enrolling in the customised diploma programme offered by Republic Polytechnic. The Diploma in Sports and Leisure Management (DSLM) was renamed Diploma in Sport Management (DSPM) in 2019. The Diploma in Business (Sport Management Track) (DBIZ) is currently the sport-related diploma offered at Sports School, in collaboration with RP, starting from 2020.

Talented youth athletes sitting for their GCE O-Level this year and wish to be supported in their dual-career pursuit of sport and studies can join one of our three through-train programmes: The IBDP, with the option of an Extended programme for high-performing student-athletes; Diploma in Business Studies (DBS), a collaboration with Ngee Ann Polytechnic; and Diploma in Business (DBIZ), a collaboration with RP. Both polytechnic diplomas are customised for Sports School student-athletes and conducted in-house at Sports School.

The application window for the 2020 DSA-JC and Poly EAE is now open.

“When my coach shared with me about the level of support Sports School provides to student-athletes, I was hooked. I realised that balancing studies and sport may not be so difficult after all. The lead up to the GCE O-Level Examinations – the preparation and actual examinations – was very disruptive to my training. It did not help that I required more time to absorb and digest information, while juggling my sport commitments,” said Wen Zhe who continued to compete even while the national exams was ongoing. The water polo player applied through the 2018 EAE exercise and secured a place in the customised DSPM programme. During his first year as a Sports School post-secondary student-athlete in 2019, Wen Zhe made his debut at the SEA Games where he won a bronze medal.

“After joining Sports School, the intensity of training sessions remained high as I was preparing for the SEA Games. I have come to realise how lucky I am to be able to pursue my sport dream and be given so much support academically, and I’m grateful. I know of many athletes who have given up being in the national team because they struggled to keep up with their schoolwork and lacked the support from their schools. Being on Sports School’s customised DSPM programme where I take two modules at a time, as compared to the usual five, has helped me cope better with my studies so my sports will not be affected.”

Read more about the uniqueness of Sports School’s customised polytechnic programmes here.