Secondary School Students To Be Placed In Mixed-Ability Form Classes From 2024
Gone are the days of having classes in secondary schools separated by Express, Normal (Academic), and Normal (Technical) streams.
Say ‘bye-bye’ to the GCE ‘O’ and ‘N’ Level exams, too, as these will be done away with within the next few years.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced a slew of changes to the existing secondary school system today (1 Mar).
These include mixed-stream form classes, full subject-based banding, and a common national exam.
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing revealed these changes during his Committee of Supply speech in Parliament.
Posting Groups derived from existing streams in secondary schools
Amidst many changes that MOE will be implementing, parents of secondary school-going children need to mainly take note of this — students will no longer be split into Express, N(A) and N(T) streams after their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE).
As a result, students of various abilities who begin secondary school education next year will find themselves in the same form classes.
Each student, however, will be posted to a secondary school through one of three groups based on the existing scoring system of the three streams.
According to MOE’s press release, the Posting Group scores are as follows:
- General 1 (G1) – N(T) stream scores
- G2 – N(A) stream scores
- G3 – Express stream scores
These groups correspond to the subject bands students take when they enter secondary school.
However, this does not determine the difficulty level of the subject throughout their secondary school journey.
As the student progresses, the General subjects they take can change according to their abilities.
Full Subject-Based Banding caters to students’ needs & interests
This banding system will extend to all subjects in secondary school. As of now, only the following subjects are available at an advanced level in Secondary 1:
- Mother Tongue
Students must have performed well in these subjects for the PSLE if they’d like to take them at a higher level.
Under Full Subject-Based Banding (SBB), students will also be able to take Humanities subjects at a higher level in Secondary 2 if they do well in their first year.
Besides offering opportunities for further pursuits, the SBB will let students take subjects at an easier level, should they struggle to cope.
With this new, more flexible system, Posting Groups will only serve as a guide upon admission. “Beyond that, Posting Groups will not shape the secondary school experience,” Mr Chan said.
He added that the new streaming and banding system will allow schools to admit students with diverse strengths. Students will then have access to a wider range of schools as a result.
Mixed form classes will bring diverse students together
Greater flexibility thus makes mixed form classes possible, with students of different Posting Groups ending up in the same form class.
Such an arrangement will provide them with more opportunities to interact with classmates of various backgrounds.
This is in contrast with the current system, where students only enter classes with peers from the same stream throughout their secondary education.
Students at all secondary schools to take one common national examination
The Secondary 1 cohort admitted in 2024 will also sit for a common Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) examination come 2027.
The major exam will replace the current GCE ‘N’- and ‘O’-Level exams at the end of secondary school.
Unlike existing exams too, the SEC will test students at the subject level they studied for. This means that Posting Groups will not differentiate the certification — all students will eventually receive the same cert.
Eligible students will still be given the option to stay in secondary school for a fifth year if they want to adjust their learning speed or take subjects at a “more demanding level”.
However, the SEC will not change the current admission model for Junior Colleges (JC).
While the slew of changes may seem like a lot to take in, we can generally sense that MOE is headed in a direction where results aren’t the main marker for success.
We’re sure parents and students alike appreciate the flexibility to customise learning experiences according to each child’s skills and interests.
Let’s hope that the changes will bring about positive impacts and nurture a brighter future for the younger generation.
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Featured image adapted from Chan Chun Sing on Facebook.
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