O-level joy for former Normal (Academic) student after taking part in subject-based banding trial, Singapore News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – Willy Heng was disappointed when he had to enter the Normal (Academic) stream four years ago. But on Friday (Jan 12), he graduated from the Express Stream at Presbyterian High School with seven O-level passes.

This makes him eligible to apply for his dream course in cyber and network security at the Institute of Technical Education.

The 17-year-old was part of the first batch of 370 Normal (Academic) students under the Subject Based Banding (Secondary) scheme to receive their O-level results.

The scheme, which has been on trial at 12 secondary schools since 2014, lets students from the Normal (Academic) stream who score at least an A for English, mathematics, science and mother tongue at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) study those subjects at the Express level.

It is being extended to all secondary schools from this year.

Willy, the third of four children, took up maths under this scheme. However, lessons were too fast-paced for him and he ended up failing the subject in Secondary 1.

Nevertheless, it made him more determined to succeed.

To catch up with his peers, he regularly sought his teacher out to clarify his doubts. He even asked for additional worksheets to work on during the weekend, he said.

His efforts paid off and he managed to pass the subject in Secondary 2. He also did well enough in other subjects to be promoted to the Express Stream.

Though moving to the Express Stream was a huge leap, Willy said he received a lot of help from teachers – one of them being Mr Loo Hup Tee, 45, his Secondary 3 mathematics teacher.

Said Willy: “Sometimes, he would approach me just to give me extra help. He was very patient with me and clarified all my doubts. For the topics that I did not understand, he did not mind repeating (his explanations).

“This really motivated me to do well in maths. I didn’t want to disappoint him after all the hard work he had put in to teach me.”

Willy, who scored a B3 for maths at the O levels, added that taking the subject at the Express level in lower secondary made it easier for him to catch up with his peers when he was promoted to the Express stream.

Leow Su Qi, 17, a Swiss Cottage Secondary student who was also part of the pioneer batch of the Subject Based Banding (Secondary) scheme, did similarly well in the subject.

Su Qi, who is in the Normal (Academic) stream but takes maths at the Express level, also scored a B3 in it at the O levels.

“I’m very happy. I wasn’t expecting it because I didn’t do well for my prelims,” she said, adding that her N- and O-level results make her eligible for the interior design course she wants to pursue at Singapore Polytechnic.

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