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Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Full Subject-Based Banding (Full SBB) In Singapore

Are you a parent curious about the Full Subject Based Banding (Full SBB) in Singapore? If so, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll delve into the ins and outs of Full SBB and how it impacts your child’s educational journey.

Introduction to Full SBB

Gone are the days of rigid streams in Singapore’s education system. Starting with the 2024 Secondary One cohort, Full SBB becomes the new normal. This fresh approach aims to cater to each student’s unique strengths, interests, and learning needs.

The Full SBB system is built on the philosophy of flexibility. Imagine a school experience where your child can learn different subjects at varying levels, based on their aptitude and interest. This is what Full SBB offers. It provides an enriching environment where students from diverse academic backgrounds learn together.

Navigating the Full SBB System

Mixed Form Classes

In Full SBB, the conventional class structures undergo a transformation. Instead of being grouped by academic streams, students will learn in mixed form classes. These classes include learners who are studying different subject combinations. The beauty of this structure is that it encourages interaction among students with different strengths and interests.

Subject Levels

The Full SBB system offers greater customization in learning. All students can take English Language, Mother Tongue Languages, Mathematics, and Science at a more demanding level from the start of Secondary One. This level is determined by the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) Achievement Level (AL) for each subject. As they progress, students may continue to offer these subjects at a more demanding level based on their secondary school performance.

Starting from Secondary Two, students have the opportunity to pursue Humanities subjects at a more demanding level. This option is determined by their aptitude for and interest in these subjects during their initial year of secondary school.

Common Curriculum Subjects

In mixed-form classes, students will take a set of common curriculum subjects. These subjects, which amount to about one-third of curriculum time, include Art, Character and Citizenship Education, Design and Technology, Food and Consumer Education, Music, and Physical Education. With a range of teaching approaches, teachers meet the different learning needs and paces of their students in the same form of class.

Subjects at Express Level, N(A) Level, and N(T) Level

Full SBB will offer English Language, Mother Tongue Languages, Mathematics, and Science at Express Level, N(A) Level, and N(T) Level. Students’ PSLE AL Score for each subject will determine these levels.

From Secondary Two, students can also offer Humanities subjects at a more demanding level. Students’ interest and aptitude, identified during Secondary One, will guide their decision to study these subjects at this level.

The beauty of the Full SBB system is its flexibility. Students can adjust their subject levels at appropriate junctures based on their strengths, interests, and learning needs.

Subjects at the Upper Secondary Level

For upper secondary students taking the Express and N(A) courses, compulsory subjects include English Language, Mother Tongue Languages, Humanities (with Social Studies), Mathematics, and Science. For those taking the N(T) course, compulsory subjects include English Language, Mother Tongue Languages, Computer Applications and Social Studies, and Mathematics.

Selected schools are currently piloting a provision that allows students to take elective subjects at a less demanding level.

Applied Learning Modules (ApLM)

A fascinating feature of the Full SBB system is the inclusion of Applied Learning Modules (ApLM). These are elective modules in applied areas, conducted by Polytechnics, ITE, and private vendors. Starting from the 2023 Secondary Two to Secondary Five cohorts, all students can participate in these modules.

The ApLM replaces the Applied Elective Modules (AEM) by the Polytechnics for students taking the Express and N(A) streams, and the Elective Modules (EM) by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and private vendors for students taking the N(A) and N(T) streams.

National Examinations

National examinations remain a key part of the educational journey. Up to the 2026 graduating cohort, students will continue to take the GCE O- and N-Level examinations. This serves as a consistent benchmark for students’ understanding and knowledge.

Post-secondary Admissions

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is in the process of reviewing the admission pathways to various Post-Secondary Education Institutions. They plan to introduce changes progressively and fully implement them by the Academic Year 2028. The aim is to better recognise students’ different combinations of subjects and subject levels.

Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP)

From the Academic Year 2024, the expansion of the PFP will enable a broader group of students to experience a practice-based preparatory pathway to a polytechnic education.

By Academic Year 2026, admissions to the PFP will follow a cluster-based approach. Students will enter one of three key broad clusters: Sciences, Design, Engineering & Technology, or Humanities, Art, Media, and Business, before posting to a specific diploma course based on their interest and PFP performance.

Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Pathway

The ITE is transitioning all its Nitec courses to the enhanced three-year curricular structure leading directly to a Higher Nitec certification. The transition is set to be completed by Academic Year 2026.

Removal of Express, N(A), and N(T) Streams

Three Posting Groups will replace the traditional Express, N(A), and N(T) streams. Students will be posted to secondary school through these Posting Groups, which will be mapped from the existing N(T), N(A), and Express streams respectively. Students can take subjects at three subject levels, known as G1, G2, G3, with the flexibility to adjust their subject levels based on their strengths, interests, and learning needs.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Full Subject Based Banding (Full SBB) is a transformative move in Singapore’s education system. It’s designed to provide a more flexible and personalized learning experience for every student. It respects each student’s unique strengths, interests, and needs, allowing them to learn at their own pace and level. It’s an educational model that transcends the traditional streaming system, creating a more inclusive and holistic environment for all learners.

As parents, understanding these changes is crucial in guiding your children through their educational journey. It enables you to provide them with the necessary support and encouragement as they navigate their way in this revamped system. The Full SBB is more than just a policy change—it’s a shift towards a more learner-centered approach in education.

We hope our guide on Full Subject Based Banding (Full SBB) in Singapore helped you. Understanding and guidance can help every child thrive and enjoy learning.

Remember, education is not a one-size-fits-all journey, and the Full SBB recognizes and respects that. So let’s embrace this change, and look forward to the exciting possibilities it brings for our children’s future. Happy learning! Enrolling in O-Level Tuition is simple. Just follow the provided linkGet Access Now.

Full Subject-Based Banding (SBB) system table :

Secondary LevelWhat Happens
Secondary 1Admission pathways to Post-Secondary Education Institutions are under review to better recognize students’ different combinations of subjects and subject levels​1​. Expansion of Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) from Academic Year 2024 to allow a wider group of students to benefit​1​.
Secondary 2Students can begin to offer Humanities subjects (Geography, History, and Literature in English) at a more demanding level based on their aptitude for and interest in these subjects at Secondary One​1​.
Secondary 3 and 4Students can offer English Language, Mother Tongue Languages, Mathematics, and Science at a more demanding level based on their PSLE Achievement Level (AL) for each subject. They will be grouped into mixed-form classes, comprising students taking different courses​1​.
Post SecondaryAdmission pathways to Post-Secondary Education Institutions are under review to better recognise students’ different combinations of subjects and subject levels​1​. Expansion of Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) from Academic Year 2024 to allow a wider group of students to benefit​1​.

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