SINGAPORE: When school reopens on Tuesday (Jan 3), students in seven primary schools will enjoy better facilities and teaching, as they switch to a single-session timetable.
It is part of the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) goal for all primary schools to move from a double to single-session model, in order to make better use of school resources. That leaves only eight schools which will still conduct classes in the morning and afternoon sessions in 2017.
To make the transition, enhancements would have to be made at schools. At Concord Primary School in Choa Chu Kang, for instance, work on new buildings and facilities was completed over the holidays.
It has a new indoor sports hall and the space below it doubles as a basketball court and recreational area. To make full use of limited space, high ropes and zip lines were built around the walls of the building, to allow the school to conduct its outdoor education programme.
High ropes built around the school for its outdoor education programme. (Photo: Concord Primary School)
In the new classrooms, lego-like tables can be rearranged to suit different teaching methods.
Concord’s principal, Tonnine Chua, noted that the changes will allow the school to make better use of its time and resources: “Now the six levels are able to come together as a whole school. We are able to hold common programmes for them, like the celebration of festivals. Otherwise we always need to plan for extra resources and time to duplicate whatever programmes that are essential for the children.”
Tables which can be rearranged to suit different teaching methods. (Photos: Concord Primary School)
The recommendation for all primary schools to switch to a single morning session was made in 2009 by the Primary Education Review and Implementation (PERI) committee. The aim is to provide students with “more time and space to interact meaningfully with their teachers”, according to PERI’s report.
It is a move that is welcomed by the principal of Boon Lay Garden Primary, another school which is moving to a single-session timetable this year. The changes, in addition to hiring more teachers, will allow the school to deploy staff based on their strengths.
"Now, my physical education, art and music lessons will be taught fully by teachers who are trained in these areas. Previously we do, but we still needed help from other teachers who are not specialised," explained Mrs Ong Jia Miin. "It allows flexibility in timetabling and a lot of flexibility in deployment."
She added that students will also benefit from an improved buddy system, by having older students show the Primary 1 children around.
"In the past, it was the Primary 2 children who guided the Primary 1 children. Of course the Primary 2 children did a good job, but now with the single session, I’m able to get Primary 4 children who are more experienced and more confident," said Mrs Ong.
Other schools making the transition this year are Admiralty Primary, Chua Chu Kang Primary, Si Ling Primary, Tao Nan and Woodgrove Primary, bringing the total number of single-session schools to 182.
This leaves just eight more schools which have yet to switch from a double-session timetable:
- Geylang Methodist Primary
- Holy Innocents’ Primary
- Maha Bodhi
- Pei Chun Public
- Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary
- Red Swastika
- Rulang Primary
- Tanjong Katong Primary
In a statement, MOE said it will work closely with the remaining eight schools: "We are working towards this, to ensure that the full suite of facilities can cater to the whole student cohort when the respective schools transit to operate in single session."