Boost for those in Normal stream

From next year, a dozen schools will take the lead in allowing Secondary 1 Normal stream students to take subjects they are strong in at Express level.

To qualify, these students would have to do well in these subjects at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

After the pilot at these 12 schools, the Ministry of Education will roll out the scheme at all secondary schools in phases, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday. He did not give a timeline, and the schools to pilot the programme have not been picked yet.

The move to allow Normal stream students to do Express level subjects from the start of secondary education was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last month. It is intended to allow students to build on their strengths.

Currently, students who do well in certain subjects can take them at Express level only from Sec 3 onwards.

They will take the O-level exam for these subjects at Sec 4, instead of a year later. About 40 per cent of each Sec 1 cohort enter the Normal stream. On average, about 4,000, or a third of each Sec 4 Normal (Academic) cohort, take O-level subjects.

Principals have welcomed the change, saying this will boost the morale of Normal stream students, who will also get four years instead of two to prepare for the O-level exam for an Express subject. Several schools already allow stronger students to do parts of an Express level subject from the get-go.

Tampines Secondary School, for instance, has been letting some of its Sec 1 Normal (Academic) students take several topics in Express-level maths and mother tongue for the past five years. This is to expose them early to these subjects, said principal Balamurugan Krishnasamy.

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