As Singapore prepares its students for the future, changes have been made to the post-secondary education pathways to recognize a wider profile of learners and provide them with more options. This is done without compromising on the strong fundamentals that have made the country’s education system renowned worldwide.
The Full Subject-Based Banding (Full SBB) is a new system that will allow students to study a more diverse combination of subjects at different subject levels by the time they complete secondary school. The goal is to provide students with a holistic and more personalized education experience that meets their individual learning needs.
Table of Contents
More Paths, and More Porosity in Between
With Full SBB, there are more post-secondary pathways available to students. This means that students can choose a pathway that better suits their interests and abilities. Additionally, there will be more porosity between the pathways, allowing students to switch between pathways if they choose to do so.
Polytechnics to be More Accessible to a Wider Profile of Students
Polytechnics will become more accessible to a wider profile of students. Previously, the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) was only available to Normal (Academic) students. However, from AY2028, more students, including those taking G3 subjects or a mix of G3 and G2 subjects, can join the PFP.
PFP Students Can Choose a Cluster of Interest Instead of a Specific Diploma, from 2026
In addition to being more accessible, the PFP will also be more flexible. From 2026, PFP students can choose a cluster of interest instead of a specific diploma. This will allow them to explore different areas of study before deciding on a specific diploma.
A-Level Curriculum to be Revised
The A-Level curriculum will be revised to better prepare students for university education. From 2026, only three H2 content-based subjects will count towards the University Admission Score (UAS) by default. The fourth content-based subject will only be included if it improves the student’s UAS.
No More Mid-Year Exams for JCs and Millennia Institute Progressively, Starting with the Cohort Entering in 2024
Mid-year exams will be phased out for Junior Colleges (JCs) and Millennia Institute (MI) students, starting with the cohort entering in 2024. This is to give students more time to focus on their studies and to reduce their stress levels.
Project Work Will be a Pass/Fail Subject
Project Work, which is currently graded, will be changed to a pass/fail subject. This is to allow students to focus on the learning process rather than the grades.
From 2024, All JC1 Students Will be Required to Study General Paper (GP), Which Will be Delinked from Knowledge & Inquiry (KI)
Starting from 2024, all JC1 students will be required to study General Paper (GP). GP will also be delinked from Knowledge & Inquiry (KI). This will allow students to focus on each subject separately and to better prepare them for university education.
KI Remains a H2 Contrasting Subject for Both Arts and Science
While GP is delinked from KI, KI will remain a H2 contrasting subject for both Arts and Science students. This is to ensure that students continue to develop critical thinking and analytical skills.
Increased Opportunities for ITE Grads to Deepen Skills and Competencies
The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) is also making changes to better prepare its students for the workforce. The transition of ITE’s 3-year Higher Nitec structure is underway and will be completed by the 2026 intake. ITE’s Work-Study Diplomas (WSDips), Technical Diplomas (TDs), and Technical Engineer Diplomas (TEDs) will also be expanded.
Full SBB provides Singaporean students with more options and opportunities to pursue their interests and strengths while still maintaining a solid foundation in their education. These changes in the education system are aimed at preparing students for the future and ensuring that they are equipped with the skills and competencies they need to thrive in the workforce.
Will students entering Secondary One N(A) in 2023 still have the option to take Secondary Five in 2027 under Full SBB?
Yes, the option of a fifth year will continue to be available for students entering Secondary One N(A) in 2023. They can take the fifth year in 2027 and sit for the Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) examination.
Will there still be “lateral transfers” in the new system under Full SBB?
Yes, the provision for “lateral transfers,” allowing students to offer subjects at a more demanding level, will continue to be available in the new system.
Under Full SBB, will students still take GCE O- and N-Level examinations at the end of their secondary education?
Students will continue to take the GCE O- and N-Level examinations until 2026. From the 2024 Secondary One cohort onwards, these examinations will be replaced with the new Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) examinations.
How will Full SBB affect my child’s post-secondary options?
Full SBB is designed to provide students with more options and greater flexibility in their post-secondary education. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has reviewed the admissions criteria for post-secondary pathways to recognize a wider profile of learners. Students who take subjects at a more demanding level will continue to be recognized and provided with relevant opportunities. Admission criteria to Polytechnic Year 1 will also be reviewed to better recognize the different subject levels taken by students.
How are Posting Groups different from the N(T), N(A), and Express streams? Is it just a renaming or rebranding of the existing system?
Posting Groups under Full SBB are fundamentally different from the stream-based system. They are used for admitting students into secondary schools and guiding initial subject levels at the start of Secondary One. Students will be grouped in mixed form classes with different Posting Groups and will spend about a third of their curriculum time taking a set of Common Curriculum subjects together. Full SBB allows eligible students to have more flexibility in subject offerings and levels.
Why is there a need to have three Posting Groups instead of one or two?
Having three Posting Groups ensures schools remain accessible and have a good mix of students across diverse learner profiles, providing opportunities for interaction with others of different strengths, interests, and backgrounds. Alternative posting models would result in an unbalanced school landscape with a stark hierarchy across schools, limiting the range of schools that students can access and narrowing the diversity of student profiles admitted.
Would students within the same school but admitted through different Posting Groups be able to access subjects at the same subject level?
Yes, with Full SBB implementation, students within the same school but posted through different Posting Groups could access the same subjects at the same subject level, allowing for better customization of educational experiences without being constrained by academic streams.
Are students free to offer any subject and subject level combinations under Full SBB?
The guidelines for offering various subjects and subject levels are calibrated to balance customization for students while ensuring they continue to benefit from a broad-based education. Schools will take into consideration the students’ holistic development, learning experiences, and resourcing constraints.
Will allowing students to study subjects at a less demanding level cause a drop in educational standards?
The calibrated approach under Full SBB allows for academic rigor and broad-based learning while providing students with a more customized learning experience according to their strengths and interests. This empowers students to have greater ownership of their learning without causing a drop in educational standards.
What are elective subjects, and why is there increased flexibility in taking them at more or less demanding levels during upper secondary?
Elective subjects are additional subjects students can choose to offer in upper secondary besides the five compulsory subjects. Greater flexibility in elective subjects allows students to pursue their interests and passion in an additional subject at a level that suits their strengths and aspirations without being constrained by the higher curriculum and assessment load.