99.5 per cent of Primary 6 pupils sat PSLE, including some on quarantine orders: Exam board

Students leaving Tao Nan School after their exams on the last day of PSLE, on Oct 6, 2021.
Students leaving Tao Nan School after their exams on the last day of PSLE, on Oct 6, 2021.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Some 360 to 620 pupils who were on quarantine orders (QO) took the PSLE on each of the four main days of examination.

This worked out to 0.9 per cent to 1.6 per cent of the 39,300 pupils sitting the PSLE this year, said the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) in response to queries from The Straits Times.

The exams ended on Wednesday (Oct 6).

Altogether, 99.5 per cent of pupils in Primary 6 this year sat the PSLE.

To be able to do so, pupils on quarantine orders had to have a negative result for Covid-19 on both a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which takes 24 hours to process, and an antigen rapid test (ART).

The earliest a candidate could sit a PSLE paper was generally within two days of being served a quarantine order.

In addition to those allowed leave from quarantine, about 500 to 950 schoolgoers who were on leave of absence, approved absence and medical leave for acute respiratory infections took the examination as well.

They made up between 1.3 per cent and 2.4 per cent of the cohort.

Meanwhile, about 21,600 students took the N and O-level examinations on Monday and Tuesday.

The overall average attendance rate over the two days was about 98 per cent, said SEAB.

About 60 students present each day were on leave from quarantine orders, and another 170 had been given absences because of acute respiratory infections.

"The necessary safe management measures were strictly adhered to in schools, to ensure the safe conduct of the examinations for all students and staff," added SEAB.

Students given leave to take the examinations were subject to stringent criteria beyond the testing requirements.

They had to arrive at the exam venue by foot or private transport, and could not stop along the way. Parents could accompany their child only if they, too, had tested negative on both a PCR and an ART test.

Schools had to be told if a student was taking a particular paper so they could prepare the exam venue.

This included having a separate room for quarantined candidates, increased distance between seats, designated entry and exit points and restrooms, as well as a start time 30 minutes after that for the rest of their cohort.

The Straits Times reported on Sept 29 that many parents of PSLE pupils taking the PSLE had expressed confusion and frustration about Covid-19 protocols and the impact on their children.

The Ministry of Education said that special consideration would be given to children who missed national exam papers because of quarantine.

Such a candidate will be awarded a projected grade for a particular paper that takes into consideration multiple sources of data. These include the child's performance in other papers for that subject and the school cohort's performance in national and school-based exams.