tutorial whatsapp 90672547 tutorial mail Email (Click to Reveal)
Article Image

The End Of Streaming Into Normal And Express For Secondary Schools (From 2024)

The Ministry Of Education is always trying to make the education system better so that parents and student can fully benefit from it. In an attempt to achieve the same goal, the MOE has announced that stop the streaming process in 2024, and the replacement will be full subject-based banding.

Streaming has been part of the education system for the past forty years, and so this decision was much needed. The Education Minister also revealed that starting from 2027, GCE O-Level or N-Level exams will not be a part of the education system. Instead, students will have to sit for a common national exam and certification. Learn on how to help your child transition from Primary to Secondary school.

Here is your complete guide to subject-based banding from 2024.


What Is Subject-Based Banding?

Full subject-based banding is the process where students will take subjects at lower or higher levels, depending on their abilities and strengths. There will be three levels so that students can study something that sparks their interest.

Once students have received their PSLE results, it will then determine the levels that they can take from the new bands.

Here are the three levels that the subjects will be divided in:

  1. General 1 (G1): It will be an updated version of the Normal (Technical) standard
  2. General 2 (G2): It will be an updated version of the Normal (Academic) standard
  3. General 3 (G3): It will be an updated version of the Express standard


The Process Of Subject-Based Banding

Students will have the freedom to change their subject levels after Secondary 1. If they have performed well in many other subjects, then they can easily choose the level they want from above.

If a student's course load is tight, then they will also be given the freedom to take subjects from lower levels so that they have some ease while studying. The primary aim is to make the lives of students much easier than before.

Schools will be responsible for tracking the progress of students by taking examinations and following the guidelines set out by the MOE. As soon as students come to Secondary 4, they will be required to take an exam that will be similar to the GCE exams that take place now.

Once their examinations are done, and they have graduated, students will be given certificates and removed from streaming levels. The certificates given to them will identify the standard band and the subjects.

In 2020, 28 schools applied for this program as they were the ones to pilot this new change. However, from 2024 onwards all schools will have to follow the subject-based banding system.


Reasons For Changing The System

Nobody likes change. Many people, especially parents, questioned this new change too. However, here are the many reasons that the MOE gave for introducing full subject-based banding:

#1. Stigma Of Being In Normal Stream

In the streaming levels, there are two kinds of syllabus. One is the Normal syllabus, and the other is the Express syllabus. Students that have to take the Normal syllabus feel that they can't do better as they are stigmatized by giving the normal label.

Many students also lose interest in learning about the subjects outside their syllabus as soon as the normal label is put on them. They also have reduced chances of moving further within the education system.

However, the biggest problem comes when they want to get a job they like. Getting into a career of their liking becomes difficult for them because they have to carve out a career path based on the subjects they took in school. Read: Highest Paying Jobs in Singapore: What you need to study

That is why the MOE wanted to make changes. With full subject-based banding, they are hoping that students will be able to benefit from a differentiated curriculum. They are also hoping that this will break the stigma of being labelled as normal.


#2. Students Will Learn At Their Own Pace

The process of streaming levels was introduced by the MOE forty years ago because they wanted to lower the school dropout rates throughout the country. While they successfully lowered the rate to 1% with the streaming process, there are still many disadvantages to the students being in such a system from a young age.

The problem with streaming levels is that it doesn’t take into account how students learn subjects and what they can do to master a certain subject. So, in simple terms, it doesn’t take into account the pace at which each student studies.

Every student has their own pace, and they also learn different subjects at a different pace. They may be good at one subject, and it may also take them a while to master concepts in certain other subjects. Many students also need constant guidance for them to excel in a subject.

The problem with the Express syllabus was that it doesn’t give the students the room to keep up with their subjects. They are expected to master their concepts with minimal guidance easily.

However, the subject-based banding system introduction will allow students to master subjects at their own pace. They will be able to get into a curriculum based on what they prefer and their strengths. It will help them to learn according to their needs, and this will increase their motivation to do better as well.


#3. Improving Relationships Between Students

Improving the relationships of students is another reason the MOE gave for introducing subject-based banding. That is because, with the new system, students will not be differentiated or separated based on the curriculum they have selected.

They will be able to meet other students from different bands, and this will allow them to socialize across the band. The government hopes that group students and their relations with students from different bands will improve with the implementation of the new system.

Students are also less likely to be judged by each other as everyone will be going at their own pace doing what they like. One can hope that this affects the relations of peers across the curriculum as well.


Possible Problems With Full Subject-Based Banding

There are problems with every new change and policy being introduced. After all, nothing is perfect, and neither is subject-based banding. However, it does seem a better alternative than streaming levels. Here are some of the problems that may come with its introduction:

#1. Uncertainty

The introduction of the new system has created uncertainty for many parents in the country. They are worried about how the schools will reach a decision when to move students to another level.

Here are some questions they have raised and are concerned about regarding the new system:

  1. Will schools use one exam to determine the bands of students?
  2. Will the band determination be based on several exams?
  3. Will the certification of Singapore-Cambridge be recognized by schools abroad?
  4. Will the certification be recognized worldwide?

These are normal concerns that parents have, but we will only get to know what will happen once the implementation starts and schools start adopting the subject-based banding system.

The MOE aims to move towards a system of education that is all-rounded so that the students and parents can fully benefit from it. However, parents are still concerned because there is a lot they don’t know about this new change.

Uncertainty has made them question the nature of subject-based banding, and that is okay too. Soon, they will have the answers they need once the implementation starts happening in full swing. Until then, the uncertainty will remain.

#2. Students In G3 Schools

With the implementation of subject-based banding, many schools will offer G3 subjects. Many parents have shown their concern about this because their kid will have to transfer to a completely new school.

Having trouble choosing a secondary school? Check out the secondary school rankings here.

Many parents prefer that their child remains in one secondary school because transferring schools is emotionally draining for the children. They have to adapt to the new environment and if that is not right for them either then they feel lost.

Parents worry that they might not find the right school for their child to transfer to. That is because many schools refuse to accept transfer students on many grounds. Mostly, it has to do with either their academic calendar or the subject level that they offer.

So, not all parents are on board with this because they don’t want their child to go through the emotional phase of changing secondary schools. Of course, one will only get to know the repercussions once the changes have been fully embedded and implemented by the MOE.

Read also: Choosing between elite school vs neighbourhood schools in Singapore


Bottom Line

With the new system, everyone is hoping that students get a chance to be in a better learning environment. They will have autonomy in how they want their career to be like, and they will be able to explore their strengths and weaknesses.

Subject-based banding will also allow students to mingle with their peers and treat them as equals as there will be normal or express levels within the system. The new banding system will have gaps, but we hope that it is an overall positive experience for the students.

After all, the primary aim of any education ministry is to enhance the lives and wellbeing of students, and we hope this change achieves that aim.


Read also:
MOE's microsite on subject based banding
Prepare for Secondary academic life with our specialist tutors
All you need to know about Secondary 1 posting

Search For A Topic
About Author

Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

We want our readers to expand their horizons by learning more and find meaning to what they learn.

Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.