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Secondary Science

There has been a new term floating around: Subject-Based Banding. Have you heard of it? If you have not, don’t worry, you’d be among many parents who are just as unfamiliar, and this comprehensive guide is all you need. Gone are the days of Normal (Technical) , Normal (Academic), and Express streams. Let’s take a deeper look at this new banding system!


In the Beginning…

Photo via biblioasia.nlb.gov.sg


To understand the new, we must learn about the old.

Students in the 1970s faced difficulties in school due to the rigid methods of teaching and learning. This led to 1 in every 3 students to give up in their pursuit of education and drop out.

The original streaming system of Express, Normal (Academic) (N(A)), and Normal (Technical) (N(T)) was rolled out  in 1980 to deal with those high numbers. With the introduction of a curriculum that was differentiated to suit many of the students’ needs and requirements, the percentage of students dropping out decreased to less than 1% of the whole student population!


The Big Challenge

Many students in the Normal streams have felt ostracised, developing a fixed mindset in both their school and personal lives due to being stigmatised and stereotyped. 

To tackle this, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has slowly tried to phase out the old system, starting from primary schools in 2008 and continuing on to secondary schools within the last decade. This is done by being more flexible with regards to students taking more subjects at different paces of learning. Through this, students test their limits by taking subjects at a more challenging level.


How would they do it?

Photo via straitstimes.com


Introducing Subject-Based Banding (SBB), the new way of streaming with 3 posting groups under which students are sorted into.

“What are the posting groups?” you may wonder. They are none other than General 1, General 2, and General 3 (G1, G2, and G3). These were all introduced to help standardise the whole curriculum of secondary school education. 

Full SBB was first piloted in selected schools back in 2020. In 2024, all students in lower secondary are able to take more subjects of varying levels depending on their own abilities in order to meet their own needs. These include English, Mother Tongue, Math, and Science in Secondary 1, and Geography, History, and Literature in Secondary 2.

This means that now, the 3 old streams have been merged and now, students have to take a new national examination at the end of Secondary 4.


New Kid on the Block

The newly introduced “Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate” (SEC) examinations is MOE’s way of standardised testing across all students in secondary school. This examination will replace the GCE N- and O- Level examinations in 2027, and students who successfully complete the SEC examination will receive a new certificate.

This also changes how admissions into tertiary education institutes are processed and considered from 2028 onwards. Entry criteria for such institutes are currently being reviewed in order to aid students in maximising their own potential.


So, what now?

All primary school students will still be posted to specific secondary schools according to their PSLE results. When students enter Secondary 1, they will start out taking subjects at a level that is suited to their learning abilities as observed from their results. The infographic below should help you to understand how your child’s grades affect their posting to the 3 groups.


Photo via channelnewsasia.com

Over time, as their skills, understanding and knowledge develop, the students may take on different levels at different points of time. However, students will be placed into “mixed” form classes.

Many parents would start to worry when they hear that their child’s form classes are going to be “mixed”, but what does this actually mean? First of all, 


The Elephant in the Classroom

Photo via todayonline.com


Many parents would start to worry when they hear that their child’s form classes are going to be “mixed”. What does this actually mean?

First of all, no, there is no need to worry about your child having a “mixed” form class. This is just a term to describe students from different General levels having the same form class to take their six Common Curriculum subjects.

The six subjects can be split up into 2 groups: Examinable and Non-Examinable.

Examinable subjects include Art, Design and Technology (D&T), and Food and Consumer Education (FCE). Non-Examinable subjects include Character and Citizenship Education (CCE), Music, and Physical Education (PE).

By promoting bonding regardless of academic background, this helps to promote the feeling of equality among students of all levels and boosts the development of a growth mindset in everyone, students and parents alike!  


Education and its Future

Teenagers with a thumbs up

Photo via shutterstock.com

With the introduction of Full Subject-Based Banding, many hope that this is the start of the eradication of having higher or lower “classes” within the student population. 

Here’s to helping all of our students reach for the stars and keep their love for learning!