Launched in 2012, the GAP Semester is a curriculum innovation of the Raffles Programme. Its objective is to give each Year 4 Rafflesian the time and space to further explore and discover his values, interests, passion, and abilities so as to develop a strong sense of purpose and heart for others. With the time freed up in the Raffles Programme, Year 4 students spend 6-8 weeks pursuing an exciting, self-directed GAP Semester curriculum that provides the differentiation and flexibility necessary to cater to diverse students, while creating a dynamic and authentic environment for learning.
Each student will design his own GAP Semester experience by putting together a combination of the following to meet his own learning needs:
- International Courses
- Work Attachment Programmes
- Student-Initiated Courses
- Singapore Courses and Strands
International Courses (ICs)
Students can embark on International Courses to ASEAN nations, as well as China, Korea, and Japan. While ICs all provide students the opportunity to learn about different cultures and societies, each is designed to achieve specific learning objectives, whether it be academic exploration, leadership development, or community service. Leveraging on RI’s alliances with our international partner schools, we also offer several Beyond Boundaries ICs which challenge students to go beyond the boundaries of their own comfort zone to fully experience the authentic life of a teenager in a different country. Through school immersions and homestays, students on these ICs gain a better understanding and appreciation of another culture and develop a network of new international friends. Despite the suspension of ICs during the Covid-19 pandemic, these Beyond Boundaries programmes continued virtually, and our students were able to interact with students from our partner schools through online exchanges.
Online exchange with Hanoi partner school in 2021
Work Attachment Programmes (WAPs)
Work Attachment Programmes (WAPs) are opportunities for students to be attached to a company or organisation for a period of up to three weeks. They have been organised to allow students to learn more about the work directly related to a particular occupation or career field by shadowing a professional and working as an employee in that occupation, as well as to experience an authentic work environment. We offer more than 300 vacancies to over 30 companies and organisations across different sectors. Beyond the more traditional career routes for RI students such as in the civil service, law firms, and in healthcare settings, there are also numerous attachments to SMEs, research institutions, social service organisations, food and beverage establishments, and so on. The GAP Semester team is constantly seeking to diversify the WAP offerings and form partnerships with new organisations to cater to varied interests and to better introduce students to the changing world of work.
Students at an F&B WAP in 2019
Student-Initiated Courses (SICs)
The school offers a wide range of courses for students to take up for their GAP Semester. At the same time, students are encouraged to initiate their own courses to meet their particular learning needs. These are known as Student-Initiated Courses (SICs) and they typically fall into one or more of these domains: authentic real-world experiences, opportunities to serve the community, and deeper explorations of academic and co-curricular interests. Students intending to initiate an SIC are responsible for determining the learning objectives of the SIC, contacting the relevant partners, and drafting the programme and other details of the course. Students then submit their proposed SIC for consideration by a team of teachers, who will also guide them in refining their programme to ensure the course meets the rigour expected. The increasing numbers of and huge array of SICs that students have embarked on over the years—running the gamut from community service projects to sports coaching for younger students to attachments at hawker stalls—is testament to the diverse passions of our students.
Singapore Courses (SCs) are offered in different disciplines and areas of interests and are run mainly by our teachers. Where necessary, vendors and alumni are engaged to run courses where their expertise is required, for example, courses on finance and entrepreneurship or street dance. Most of the SCs focus on interdisciplinary and applied learning. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the GAP Semester team re-imagined the Singapore Courses offerings and introduced a suite of thematic multi-/inter-disciplinary Strands. These Strands are centred around global challenges such as environmental sustainability, health and humanity, and social inclusion and justice, and each is co-designed and taught by an inter-departmental team of teachers. Many Strands also feature learning journeys and engagements by external partners to situate students’ learning within real-world contexts.
SC on the mechanics of remote-controlled racing
Throughout the GAP Semester, every student is assigned a teacher-mentor who will guide, assist and support him to reflect and learn from the GAP Semester programmes and personal experiences through weekly mentoring sessions. Mentors help the boys to work towards achieving the purpose of the GAP Semester by encouraging students to think about three big ideas:
- Identity: Who they are, what are their strengths, weaknesses, and what are their passions?
- Choices: How do they make decisions? How do they manage the consequences of these choices?
- Relationships: What have they learnt about the importance of relationships between themselves and others, and how can they develop these relationships?
Celebrating 10 Years of GAP Semester
2022 marks the 10th anniversary of GAP Semester! As part of the celebrations, our current batch of Year 4 students are, for the first time, enrolled into the GAP Semester Boarding Programme (GBP). This is a special residential programme which comprises day-time workshops and evening activities. Highlights include (but are not limited to) experiences like Legacy Projects (community engagement projects) and learning life skills, like how to cook and sew. Deepening the experience further, the GBP also includes a one-day outdoor experience camp at Sentosa.
GBP 2022 Raft-building at Sentosa
For Year 4 Rafflesians, the GAP Semester is a rite of passage in their life in Raffles Institution as they move on to Year 5. It marks a period where they learn and grow in a different environment and discover what is truly meaningful and significant to them.