MP Denise Phua proposes 'pilot schools with no streaming and no PSLE'
Schools with no streaming, and with ten years of through-train education without the Primary School Leaving Examination - that was a proposal Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) floated on Tuesday, in an adjournment motion at the end of Parliament's sitting.
She suggested that a pilot cluster of such schools be set up, in a speech which touched on the future of education - for instance, the rise of online academies - and current challenges such as the thriving tuition industry.
Among other things, her proposed pilot schools would encourage interaction of students from different socio-economic backgrounds, abilities, race and religion, "not excessively assess their students through competitive tests", and make special efforts to help the disadvantaged, such as having longer school days or providing computers and school meals.
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat agreed that innovation was important, and the means by which the education system can improve. But innovation is also guided by certain principles, such as having a "multi-layered approach."
Innovation can take place system-wide, in individual schools or in all schools - and that third mode of innovation "is very important," said Mr Heng.
"It may not have the same visibility as setting up a specialised school. But its impact is systemic."
He said he would give Ms Phua's proposal "serious consideration," but added: "I should also caution that having debated many of these issues in my ministry, there are significant policy and implementation issues that we would have to consider."
Ms Phua's proposal should also be set in the context of many changes that the MOE is currently rolling out, he said. These include changes to the PSLE system, a renewed focus on values, and more flexibility for Normal stream students.
"Pacing and prioritisation are critical, and we are, at this point, rolling out a series of very important horizontal innovations," said Mr Heng. Pacing was one of the five principles of innovation which he had laid out in his response to Ms Phua.