The academic year has just come to a close for Tiger girl. She has successfully completed Secondary 1 under SBB. It has been a rather interesting year for her being in this new integrated class. The school that Tiger girl is in had been chosen as one of the test centers for this new scheme and it has been a full SBB school for two years to date. Come 2024 all schools will be SBB and it will certainly be interesting to see how more students fare under this new banding system . I will be sharing her personal thoughts on this later on in this post together my personal opinions on this banding system.
It is all inclusive under this banding. The weaker systems (formerly classified as Normal Technical or Normal Academic) are now given equal chance to bond and mix with the Express students on a day to day basis. Having such a classroom creates a more level playing feel for the mixed ability students to gel and associate with each other. The weaker are allowed to advance while the more academically brilliant students are not held back as they study the key subjects – English, Math , Science and Mother Tongue (2nd language) at a higher level. The whole class is only together for non -core subjects like Geography, History, Art, Music etc.
The BAD about SBB
There are more disruptions in the class due to bad behavior from classmates. Less academically inclined students tend to be more rowdy and active in class which can cause major distractions to students who are trying hard to pay attention and study in class. Tiger girl had complained to me on more then one occasion that classes get disrupted as the teacher has to pause teaching to discipline misbehaving students in class. Having taught in the classroom before I personally know how exhausting it is dealing with behavioural issues what more from hot headed teenagers. Due to all these unwanted disruptions she doesn’t get the full benefit of the lesson.
Even in a class of all G3 students there can be a range of ability it can be difficult for the teacher to get everyone to follow on with the lesson what more when you have a mixture of G1-G3 students within the class. As a result I personally feel that it is quite impossible for the teacher to deliver a lesson which is really tailored to Tiger girl’s academic level. Being a G3 student in a mixed ability class she found many lessons boring and very dull and would often “switch” off in class as there wasn’t really much added value to her for listening attentively. Fortunately for her she is independent in her studies and is able to self study to maintain her grades. She managed to get a Edusave Scholarship this year for her Academic performance which shows that she is ranking within the top 10% of her school’s level and course in terms of academic performance, and had demonstrated good conduct. I’m hoping that she will be able to receive Edusave Scholarship for the next few years too that she is in this school just like Monkey boy and Doggie boy did when they were in secondary school.
Socialising in school
Tiger girl also mentioned to me that she mixes better with other G3 students and seldom mixes with the G2/G1 students as they do not really communicate along the same bandwidth. She has made a few new friends since entering this secondary school and still keeps in contacts with the primary school friends she had in her previous school.
I feel that it has been quite idealistic for the designers of this SBB system to think that everyone when forced together in a melting pot will be able to associate well and get click with one another. There are still cliques and groups forming in the class to date. The vast differences in personality, intellectual ability and interest make it hard for everyone to get along with each other.
My gripe about this setting is that she is not in an environment that will push her to excel as it does not stretch her potential at all. Her current classmates will be following her up to Secondary four as there is no need to swap in and out of classes as there is NO better class with every class being a mixed class in the level. It could be a real torture for the student if he/she is place in a class where classmate as not conducive to learning.
Lucky for Tiger girl she other resources out of school to aid her learning and she can still be able to be improve on her potential. She is also not too bothered about school and steers clear of any chaotic or problematic student around her.
I guess there is no “perfect” solution and that as a parent one can only do the best with the resources we have to create the most “ideal” environment for our child to promote their learning in and out of school.
What are you thoughts on SBB?