COS 2021: Foundation Subjects in Primary School

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): In Primary school, students may take a combination of Standard and Foundation level subjects based on their strengths and choices. However, many students and parents may not be aware that for the purpose of Secondary 1 posting, even a perfect score at a Foundation level maps to a Standard level’s Achievement Level (AL) of only AL 6. In contrast, students taking Standard level subjects can achieve AL 5 if they score just 65%. A higher AL translates to a poorer PSLE score. 

When parents opt for their child to take a Foundation level subject after Primary 4, it will be an uphill climb to get back to Standard level in Primary 6. Poor grades in school are seldom a full reflection of the student’s abilities. The quality of instruction they receive and their home environment make a big difference. Some students simply need more encouragement and guidance to do better academically.

What are the objective and subjective criteria that schools use to determine the student’s subject level combinations? How are parents, including those who may be less educated, made fully aware of the impact that taking Foundation level subjects will have on their child’s PSLE score? How do schools ensure that late bloomers will have a fair chance at taking Standard level subjects at the PSLE despite poor examination performance in Primary 4 and Primary 5?

Ministry of Education
3 March 2021

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