Pupils must be able to keep up with pace of learning

Having had two children graduate from St Hilda's Primary, and being familiar with the school culture, I feel that the report ("'How can 97 marks be not good enough?'"; Jan 14) suggesting that the school advocates the culture of "chasing the last mark", is wrong.

Traditionally, pupils are taught Chinese as a second language, and would be offered the option to take up Higher Chinese in Primary 5 if they attained a good score in the subject and a good aggregate score in Primary 4.

However, the school observed that two years was inadequate to raise proficiency in the Chinese language to the Higher Chinese level.

So, the school ran a pilot programme in 2011, where younger pupils who are ready to keep up with the pace can learn Chinese beyond the second language level. They are selected based on the continual assessments they take throughout the year.

Parents should understand the difference between interest in a language and the readiness to pursue a higher level of learning the language.

If a child is put in circumstances where he is uncomfortable with the pace of learning, he may subsequently lose interest in the subject.

The fact that a number of pupils scored high marks could mean that the school set the tests at a comfortable level, perhaps in order not to discourage pupils from learning Chinese.

Thus, being in the top 25 per cent is a better reflection of a pupil's current readiness to learn Higher Chinese at Primary 2.

Besides, the pupil can still take up the subject later on.

My two children benefited from dedicated Chinese teachers at St Hilda's.

Let us allow the school to do what it does best and not change the culture of learning.

Doreen Leong (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline 'Pupils must be able to keep up with pace of learning'. Print Edition | Subscribe