What it is like studying in a Full Subject-Based Banding (Full SBB) school?
With Full SBB coming to all schools by 2024, there will no longer be courses such as Express or Normal. Students will take their subjects at different subject levels, and be assigned to mixed form classes. Yes, they may need to move about between classrooms as they attend lessons run based on their subject levels.
Last year, we shadowed Secondary 3 Normal Technical student Muhamad Hazim Abdul to see what a typical Full SBB school day is like. His school, Deyi Secondary School, is one of the 28 pilot schools implementing Full SBB since 2020.
By Lim Jun Kang and Lee Qing Ping
Photos by Lee Qing Ping
It’s just past 7am, the usual time Hazim reaches school. As a Student Councillor, he has some morning duties to perform.
Today, he heads to the hall to help teachers put up signs for the lower secondary students’ Aesthetic Assembly, where they will be watching a drama performance as part of their lower secondary Drama Elective modules.
Hazim heads to his form class, 3 Determination, in time for his Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) lesson.
At Deyi Secondary, the first lesson of the day is either the CCE or Form Teacher’s Guidance Period, so that classmates get a chance to interact with one another before they move on to other classes for the rest of the day.
It’s time for English lessons and there is a shuffle of students between classes across the school. Hazim stays on in his form classroom for English Language at N(A) level (G2 level is the FSBB equivalent come 2024). His classmates who take English Language at Express (G3 level) or N(T) level (G1 level) leave to meet students from other classes who take English Language at the same level.
Hazim was offered the opportunity to take English Language at a more demanding level back in Secondary 2, because he was doing well in his favourite subject. He jumped at the chance to learn more and prepare for his goal of studying at a polytechnic and pursuing a political science degree at university.
“It was a quite a struggle to juggle both N(A) and N(T) subjects at the same time, even though it was something I wanted to do,” says Hazim. “My friends help me if I have any questions, and my teachers also give me extra homework and feedback to help me improve.”
As Hazim threads his way through the corridors to his Elements of Business Studies class, an N(T) subject, he runs into his friends from his current form class who are on their way to other lessons, and stops to mingle.
At Secondary 3, students take up new subject combinations and have fewer subjects in common with their form classmates than in their lower secondary years.
“I do miss spending most of my time with my form classmates, so I find time to catch up with them when we run into each other, and during recess,” says Hazim.
It’s recess time, everyone’s favourite time of the day!
In between bites of food and drink, Hazim and his form class besties Clement Lim Wei Chien (left) and Ong Yan Bo (right), who are in the Express course, discuss the online game they just played together over the weekend.
“Even though we are in different courses, Hazim and I are still very good friends,” says Clement. “Full SBB has allowed me to make a wide range of friends in school.”
Time for Physical Education (PE)! For PE, Hazim’s form class is training for the Inter-Class Games coming up. They signed up for the frisbee competitions and have been practising in teams of five.
The Inter-Class Games resumed after two years of Safe Management Measures due to the pandemic and is just one of various school-wide events being re-introduced across the year – perfect for building bonds and friendships.
After PE, Hazim heads for Science lesson at N(T) Level.
Like English Language, Hazim’s Science class comprises students from a mix of form classes but who take the subject at the same subject level.
Today, there’s a special activity planned – students will be learning Electricity concepts on Blooket, a web-based quiz game platform that allows the students to compete against one another or in groups.
Hazim paired up with classmate Lim Jedrek (left), discussing their gameplan for the “Battle Royale” game to answer as many questions as they can within a set time.
After lunch, Hazim heads to the studio for choir practice; Choir is his Co-Curricular Activity (CCA).
Today, they are practising the song “May The Music Never End”, where Hazim has a bass part.
CCA has always been a good platform for mixing across levels and courses. But Deyi’s teachers have observed that since Full SBB was implemented in 2020, the bonds between students appear stronger in general – even during CCA – because mixing across courses has become a daily norm.
Hazim’s day ends at 5.30pm, and he heads home with strains of the song still playing in his head… “…there’ve been so many years of laughter and of tears and I cherish every moment that we share…”
For more stories on Full-Subject Based Banding in schools, check out:
Three years on: How secondary school life has changed with Full Subject-Based Banding
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