Subject-Based Banding (SBB) was first introduced in 12 prototype secondary schools in 2014. It aims to provide greater flexibility in subjects offered at the lower secondary levels to cater to the different learning needs of students. SBB has given students from the Normal (Academic) course like Nurul Shifa Abdul Latif and Low Jie Ying of Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary), the opportunity to take on subjects in the Express course.
“I’ve learned to step out of my comfort zone and constantly challenge myself to grow and not give up,” said Shifa, on taking subjects at a higher level.
Shifa was exposed to a different pace of learning. When she first joined her SBB Mathematics class, her initial concern was not being able to grasp certain concepts and catch up with the rest of the students. There were times where she felt like giving up but instead, with support from her teachers and classmates, she was motivated to give her all.
“My teachers, classmates and parents were supportive. They were there to help me out when I was down and out. With that I persevere through. Being in those situations has definitely helped to boost my self-confidence,” said the 14-year-old who welcomed the rigour.
According to Mathematics teacher, Mrs Koh Mei Chin, who has been teaching SBB classes since 2018, it is natural for the students to feel anxious in the beginning which is why it is important to have regular conversations to find out how they are coping with the subjects. She added that SBB has helped her students to build stronger bonds with their schoolmates and opened up new post-secondary options.
Secondary 2 student, Jie Ying took Mathematics and Chinese at a higher level (Express) to challenge herself on handling questions that were more complex. Jie Ying did not really know that one of her stronger subjects was Mathematics. SBB helped her discover that. She began to love Mathematics and found a good way to get better in the subject- through helping out her classmates and friends from her CCA.
“Actually, SBB is not just about taking up subjects at a higher or lower level, based on our strengths. It is also about forging friendships and learning together as we develop our strengths and interests by taking a combination of subjects across different bands. I grew confident in Math and helped my classmates to understand and solve intricate Mathematical questions. It wasn’t easy at the start, we all had to cope with the new pace and environment but eventually, we adapted and overcame the obstacles that came along,” said Jie Ying who aspires to be a Mathematics teacher.
Full Subject-Based Banding (Full SBB) will be piloted in about 25 schools in 2020, before it is rolled out progressively to all schools by 2024. When Full SBB is fully implemented, form classes will be reorganised and Express, N(A) and N(T) streams will be merged into a single course. Secondary 1 students in the 2024 batch will take subjects at three levels – G1, G2 or G3, with G standing for “General”. When they reach Secondary 4 in 2027, they will take a common examination and graduate with a common secondary school certificate which will be co-branded by Singapore and Cambridge.
Check out this video for more info on Full SBB.