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Subject-Based Banding to be expanded beyond PSLE subjects

Subject-Based Banding (Secondary) [SBB(Sec)] will be expanded beyond the four PSLE subjects in line with ongoing efforts to develop the full potential of students, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said in a press release on Tuesday (5 March).

The ministry stated that these changes will provide students with more opportunities to study subjects at a level better suited to their strengths and interests.

“We want to help our students to continue benefitting from a differentiated curriculum, while minimising the unintended consequences of labelling and the stigmatisation associated with streaming.,” the ministry added.

With Full SBB, more subjects will be available for students to be taken at different levels over the course of their secondary school education, which means they can build on their strengths by taking subjects at a level suited to their academic ability.

In addition to English, Mother Tongue Languages, Mathematics, and Science, which are currently offered under SBB(Sec), SBB will now be expanded to include Humanities subjects – Geography, History and Literature.

In time, students may option to take some subjects at a lower level, to broaden their learning and experiences, or to customise their academic load in their best educational interest.

The ministry said that Full SBB will be piloted in selected schools in 2020, and progressively adopted by secondary schools by 2024. Further details will be shared at a later date.

With Full SBB, the ministry said that schools can also explore reorganising their form classes beyond academic courses.

For example, classes may be organised around students’ strengths in particular subject areas, project groups, or even CCAs. This way, schools will have greater flexibility to facilitate student interaction across different profiles as compared to the current student experience, which is largely based on the three academic courses.

MOE said that it will also consolidate our existing GCE N- and O-Level examinations into a new common national examination and certification framework.

From the 2024 Secondary One cohort, students will receive a single national certification which reflects the level at which each subject is taken. The level of difficulty for each subject will be mapped from the current curricula: N(T)-Level will be mapped to General 1 (G1), N(A)-Level to General 2 (G2), and O-Level to General 3 (G3).

This is similar to how A- Level students today take subjects at H1, H2, and H3 levels, and how PSLE students take subjects at Standard or Foundation levels, said the ministry, adding that the new national examination and certification framework will take effect from 2027.

In line with the intent of Full SBB and the common national examination and certification framework, MOE noted that it will also review the admissions to Post-Secondary Education Institutions (PSEIs).

A revised admissions framework will be put in place for the first cohort of Full SBB students i.e. from 2028, so that the progression pathways to PSEIs can better recognise and support their strengths and interests.

More details on changes to post-secondary admissions and pathways will be made available when the review is completed, it noted.

“By remaking these pathways in our secondary schools, we hope to encourage our students to adopt a growth mindset and take greater ownership of their learning and lifelong development,” MOE said.