Secondary school is a whole different ball game compared to primary school. Not only do you have to navigate the onset of puberty and its attendant issues, you are also expected to do between eight and nine subjects, all of which you need to do well in to score well, but you also need to pay attention to Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs).
In Primary school, CCAs are not compulsory, more of a nice-to-do activity and it is not unheard of parents pulling out their child from CCA in Primary 6. But in secondary school, CCAs are taken on to a whole new level with LEAPS!
LEAPS which stand for LEadership, Achievement, Participation and Service is the framework to recognize a secondary student’s holistic development. Students get points in each of the four components of the system with the points being added up the four or five years they are in school. Why it becomes important is that the year they take their O Level exams, if they manage to get an A1 in their CCA, they can shave off 2 points from their raw O level score. This is very important as this then becomes the means where students can make the difference between a good or great junior college or even if the student can make the cut off point for a particular course, especially when he is in the borderline!
The LEAP domains are as follows:
Leadership: This domain recognises students’ leadership development. Recognition is accorded to students’ ability to take charge of personal development, work in a team and assume responsibilities in service of others. In addition to formal leadership appointments, participation in student leadership modules/workshops, the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) and leadership positions in the school, CCA or student-initiated/student-led projects will also be recognised.
Achievement: This domain recognises students’ representation and accomplishment in co-curricular involvements beyond the classroom. Opportunities for representation and accomplishment present valuable learning experiences for students to learn discipline, resilience and develop their character. Students may represent the school or organisations endorsed by the school. Recognising external opportunities better caters to students’ diverse interests and talents. It also recognises the community’s role in developing the child.
Representation refers to being selected and endorsed by the school or an organisation endorsed by the school (e.g. the community club or national association) to contribute, perform or compete. It need not be tied to his/her CCA in school.
Accomplishment refers to attaining accolades and awards at competitions, festivals, performances, exhibitions, conferences and symposiums where the student represents the school or other organisations endorsed by the school.
Participation: This domain recognises students’ participation in one school-based Co-Curricular Activity (CCA). Recognition is based on the number of years of participation and exemplary conduct and active contribution3 to the CCA. Sustained engagement in the same CCA allows for progressive development of character, skills, knowledge and friendships, and will be accorded higher recognition.
Service: This domain recognises students’ development as socially responsible citizens who contribute meaningfully to the community. Every secondary school student will contribute at least 6 hours per school year to the community. They can choose to embark on a Values-In-Action project (VIA). Students will be recognised for the time they put into planning, service and reflection, when participating in a VIA project.
So it becomes very important that the student chooses a CCA that interests them in the first year itself as points gained in a CCA cannot be transferred if the student changes their CCA. Also important is that the student tries to get some sort of leadership position within the CCA to get points in the Leadership domain.
It does goes without saying that too much emphasis on the CCA will definitely result in 2 bonus points, but if this does not result in a good O level score, then all the effort put in for the past 4 or 5 years is in vain. The best outcome is of course to balance studies and CCA together and try to get the best score possible!