Scope for specialised secondary schools to offer more subject options amid streaming changes
SINGAPORE: There is room for specialised schools, Integrated Programme schools and schools that take in only Express students to offer more subject options at different levels and they complement the plan to move beyond streaming, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 5).
Mr Ong had announced in his Committee of Supply speech that the current system of streaming in secondary schools will be replaced by subject-based banding by 2024.
This means that the current system, where students are streamed into Express, Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) classes based on their PSLE results, will be phased out.
The Education Minister pointed out that some schools, such as Spectra and Crest secondary schools, take in only Normal (Technical) students and some, including NUS High and Integrated Programme schools, take in only Express students.
There is value in having schools that implement specialised programmes, but there is also scope for these schools to offer more subject options, he said.
"Spectra and Crest should offer more N(A) subjects compared to today, and could possibly also offer a few Express-level subjects. Similarly, in time, it will also make sense for the schools that take in only Express students to offer some subjects at the N(A) or N(T) level," he said.
However, he said that there is a "lack of mixing" in these specialised schools, and they have to make a special effort to recruit students from all backgrounds, including through Direct School Admissions.
"They will have to ensure that students participate actively in inter-school mixing opportunities, such as combining schools CCAs (Co-Curricular Activities), Outward Bound School camps, or Values-in-Action projects where week in, week out, students from different schools get to mingle together," he said.
"And I can see many of the principals from the specialised schools working very hard to do better in this aspect."
Nevertheless, he said that there is still value in taking a whole-school approach in implementing specialised programmes.
"Every education system in the world will have schools that cater specifically to different segments of students, such as those with high academic ability, strengths in specific areas, or (those who) much prefer hands-on vocational and technical training," he said.
"Such a diverse education system can complement the plan to move beyond streaming. We should maintain and balance diversity across schools and within a school, to allow us to better cater to the educational needs and strengths of different groups of students."