SINGAPORE: The Education Ministry has scrapped the secondary school banding system, as part of efforts to ensure that "every school is a good school".
The banding system, which was introduced in 2004, categorises secondary schools into nine bands.
Band one consists of top schools, with a cut—off point of below 11 for the average aggregate grades in the GCE O’ Level examination.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) will also reduce the number of awards it gives out to schools.
One of them is the Masterplan of Awards, which will be removed from 2014.
The number of performance measures in the School Excellence Model will also be dropped.
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the changes at the ministry’s annual Work Plan Seminar on Wednesday.
Mr Heng explained why his ministry is changing its mind about these awards, which were designed to help schools plan and evaluate their programmes.
"Both have led to much administrative work for schools, and fuelled public perception that schools are chasing awards," said Mr Heng.
"Having studied this for over a year now, we will make a major change. We will instead have a clear, simple framework to achieve and recognise school excellence."
Instead, the ministry will focus on recognising best practices in niche areas, such as teaching and learning, as well as students’ all—round development.
It will set aside S$55 million over five years to enable every school to build its own niche.
Mr Heng also touched on homework and tuition.
"MOE can do our part not to contribute to the need for tuition. Our schools and examinations must not be run on the basis that students will have tuition," he said.
"Some parents complain that our teachers tell the students to seek answers from their tuition teachers. If this is true, we must put a stop to it."
"This is not to say tuition and extra support are not useful for some students," added Mr Heng. "But excessive tuition can be harmful. If they over—learn, they become bored in class."
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