chevron icon chevron icon

Subject-based banding: What you need to know

Subject-based banding: What you need to know

In the recent Singapore parliamentary budget debate, the Ministry of Education revealed plans to fully implement subject-based banding (SBB) in all secondary schools.

The adoption of SBB is a major change for the Singapore education system, similar in magnitude to the introduction of streaming back in 1981, and it is slated to roll out progressively in more secondary schools from now until the target date of 2024.

What is subject-based banding (SBB)?

With SBB, the concept of streaming as it is known now (Express, Normal (Academic), and Normal (Technical)) will cease to exist, which means students will no longer be grouped in separate categories that determine the difficulty of the subjects that are available to them. Each student will be able to choose across the full range of subjects, in varying difficulty levels: G1, G2, and G3.

More detailed information on SBB, including possible subjects, changes to the national exams at the end of their secondary education, and post-secondary pathways can be found on the official webpage by the Singapore Ministry of Education.

What to expect from SBB

The introduction of SBB signifies a major change in Singapore's secondary education. As such, there are some significant differences compared to the familiar streaming system that parents and students should be aware of.

Although the shift away from the traditional streaming system will require families to adjust their mindset and approach to education, SBB does promise quite a few benefits for students.

First, the removal of Express, Normal (Academic), and Normal (Technical) streams will do much to remove the social stigma and expectations associated with each category, which will relieve academic pressure from students in turn. The abolishment of streaming also means that students with different backgrounds and abilities will be placed in the same classes. By learning and socialising together, students will be able to learn important values such as empathy, graciousness and teamwork - vital soft skills that will serve them well into adulthood.

Finally, the implementation of SBB means that students will finally get the opportunity to customise their education by selecting subjects in varying difficulties based on their interests, passions, and aptitude, allowing for much more freedom in their studies.

But as advantageous as SBB might sound, it will nonetheless be uncomfortable for families who are already used to the previous system. If your child is due to attend secondary school under SBB, the main issues will likely centre around the subjects offered. The subjects that your child is interested in might not necessarily be the same as the ones you think are suitable or even beneficial for them.

Transitioning into SBB seamlessly

So, how should parents and students embrace this new education system when they encounter it in secondary school? Here's a few things to be mindful of:

  • Understand how SBB works and how it can benefit your child. Knowledge is the key to making full use of the new system's advantages, so be sure to read up on the details behind subject-based banding on this page.

  • Choose the difficulty of subjects based on interests, aspirations, and academic strengths. With SBB, students will finally be able to experience personalised learning at school, whether by taking on more challenging versions of subjects that they resonate with, or easing their study woes by taking subjects they are less enthusiastic about at a lower difficulty level.

    However, this freedom also means that students will need to be more responsible about their subject choices, as it's easy to overextend by taking on subjects that are too difficult to handle.

    Likewise, It may be tempting for your child to simply disregard their own preferences and enroll in the same classes as their friends for companionship, but it's important to impress upon them that everyone is different and that making their passions a focus will be more worthwhile in the long run.

  • Respect your child's decisions on their subject choices. While you should definitely give them your advice and let them know about your thoughts on the matter, your child should still be allowed to have final say on the matter.

    Allowing them to take charge of their own education is a generous display of trust, which they will reciprocate by becoming more open with you about their lives. Letting your child decide on a major life choice at this age will also help them learn to be more independent and confident as a result.

Enhancing your child's SBB education with Geniebook

In some ways, Geniebook already adheres to the general philosophy behind subject-based banding, in that we encourage our students to take control of their academic journey by incorporating aspects of personalised learning. GenieSmart customises the topic and difficulty of worksheets dynamically according to their preferences and skill levels, GenieClass allows students complete freedom to choose which lessons to learn at their own time, and GenieAsk grants a direct line to their teachers for instant feedback and academic guidance whenever they need it.

It goes without saying that all of these advantages will give your child an edge when they return to school for their classes, whether it's under the current system or within a SBB learning environment. Visit this page to learn more about our online learning products, or click the banner link below to register for a complimentary Strengths Analysis.

Book a free product demo
Suitable for primary & secondary
select dropdown icon
Our Education Consultants will get in touch with you to offer your child a complimentary Strength Analysis.
Book a free product demo
Suitable for primary & secondary