by Anasuya Soundararajan
NorthLight School, located at 151 Towner Road, aims to provide an engaging education for youth while preparing them for lifelong learning and employability.1 Established in 2007, NorthLight is a specialised school for students who have difficulties keeping up with mainstream education and are keen on vocational studies. NorthLight, which admits students who have attempted the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) at least once, takes in about 200 new students each year. It welcomed its first batch of 228 students at its original campus at Dunman Road in 2007.2
NorthLight celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017. The celebratory event, attended by more than 400 guests including students and alumni, also marked the official opening of the school’s new campus at Towner Road, a location it has called home since December 2014. To facilitate students’ learning, the new campus has special learning rooms, extensive sports facilities and state-of-the-art vocational training facilities.3
Before the formation of NorthLight, most students who failed their PSLE enrolled in Vocational Training Centres (VTCs). However, attrition at the VTCs was high with 60 percent of students dropping out of the programme. Of the remaining 40 percent, less than half progressed to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). To address the educational needs of this group of students, NorthLight was developed as a specialised school to cater to the different learning styles and abilities of students, as well as to prepare them for a further education in ITE or industry apprenticeships.4
NorthLight aims to provide an engaging career-oriented and values-focused education for youth and prepare them for lifelong learning and employability. It adopts an experiential approach to teaching and learning. Emphasis is given to nurturing the students’ socio-emotional development by recognising their achievements, encouraging peer support and creating conditions to promote self-esteem.5
Students who have attempted the PSLE and are assessed as unsuitable to progress to secondary school education or re-attempt the PSLE are eligible to apply to NorthLight.6
The curriculum at NorthLight is clustered under three domains: character education, foundation education and vocational education. Character education aims to develop in students the qualities and values to lead fulfilling lives. It comprises the NorthLight programme, sports and wellness programme as well as the arts appreciation programme. Foundation education helps students acquire core competencies in literacy and numeracy to function effectively in daily life and work. It is made up of language, literacy, numeracy, and information communication and technology literacy programmes. Vocational education prepares students for entry-level jobs in the technical, services, and creative industries. It comprises the vocational training programme, pre-employment skills training programme and the industrial experiential programme.7
1. NorthLight School. (2017). Mission, Vision & Values. Retrieved 2018, April 27 from NorthLight School website: https://nls.edu.sg/home-about-us/mission-vision-values/
2. Yang, C. (2016, September 21). NorthLight School influenced Singapore's education system: PM Lee. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
3. Yang, C. (2016, September 21). NorthLight School influenced Singapore's education system: PM Lee. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
4. Davie, S., & Almenoar, M. (2006, March 9). New school to give students fresh chance. The Straits Times, p. 4; Almenoar, M. (2007, July 13). Failed PSLE on first try? NorthLight offers place. The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. NorthLight School. (2017). Purpose. Retrieved 2018, April 27 from NorthLight School website: https://nls.edu.sg/home-about-us/purpose/
6. NorthLight School. (2017). Admission. Retrieved 2018, April 27 from NorthLight School website: https://nls.edu.sg/school/admission/
7. NorthLight School. (2017). Curriculum – Framework & Objectives. Retrieved 2018, April 27 from NorthLight School website: https://nls.edu.sg/curriculum/framework-and-objectives/
The information in this article is valid as at 2018 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.