A Christian Mum’s take on the PSLE changes

Last week the hottest news among Singaporean parents was about the announcement of the PSLE changes. This was a hot topic among my group of friends since our Primary Ones kids will be the first cohort of students impacted by the changes.

In a nutshell, the key changes are:

  • Removal of T-scores which is replaced with 8 wider grade bands or “Achievement Levels” (ALs)
  • Students will not be graded relative to their peers
  • Places will be allocated according to PSLE score first, but a pupil who puts a school higher in his list of choices will get priority over another with the same score who ranks the school lower

While the objective of these changes is to dial down the competition over the PSLE so that pupils can focus on own learning instead of comparing them against their peers, many remain skeptical that this will make it any less stressful for our children.

I’ve read many views from both end of the spectrum who hold differing views on the changes. Some welcome the changes because with the wider banding, it’s no longer about chasing that 2,3 points anymore. On the other hand, some are worried that their children will see the wider grade bands as a hurdle and be less motivated to try.

I mulled over the revamp and I’ll be lying if I said I’m unfazed by the changes. There are still questions left unanswered like whether MOE should have also looked into revamping the curriculum, and if the PSLE examination supports the push towards a more holistic education when it still all boils down to measuring our children’s academic success when they are just 12 years old.

But I do acknowledge that these changes made are in the right direction and I’m hopeful that it will improve our education system.


A Mindset Change for Parents

As a mum, I ask myself, so what’s my role?

How I can support Sophie in her learning journey and how can I help her develop positive attitudes towards learning especially when she’s going to be spending her next 15 years or so in school.

I’m far from having it all figured out and after praying about it, I felt the Lord nudging me to remember Jeremiah 29:11


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.


How little I felt at this reminder because while I may be Sophie’s mum, I’m really just a steward of her life on this earth.

My role is to recognise her unique talent and gifting from God and to give her opportunities to hone them instead of conforming her to the dreams I hold for her.

More importantly, is to remember that God has a purpose and destiny for her life which will be greater than the grandest of plans I have for her. And as the years go by, my prayer is that she’ll come to see His hand in her life, guiding her and leading her towards that purpose.

It’s tough to swim against the tide, but I’m going to bear in mind that I should never measure Sophie by her academic sucess after all grades alone should not make or break her future. And honestly who’s to say what the future economy will look like when it’s now looking so different from where we were 10 years ago.

So while her teachers in school are going to equip her with knowledge, my role is to keep her grounded in values and help her develop a growth mindset.


“Growth mindset is someone who’s tries to improve himself and believes that with more exercise and work he can get to anything and he can learn anything”.


Kids who give up easily often exasperate their parents and teachers because they don’t even bother to try. This is also referred to as a fixed mindset where kids just do enough or simply give up trying because it’s too tough.

Growth Mindset 01

I’ve been doing some reading on how we can teach our kids about growth mindset and you can read more about them here, here and here.


Don’t teach the mentality that ‘nothing is ever good enough’, rather teach them the mentality that ‘there’s always room for improvement


Alarmingly, the way that I praise Sophie has been promoting a fixed mindset as I focused on the results and not the efforts behind the results. It’s an area that I need to be more conscious of if I want Sophie to learn the importance of preserving at a hard task and being open to try and learn from those experiences.

I want her to know that it’s okay not to have all the answers and it’s even okay to fail because we learn from our mistakes and that failure is never final.

At the end of the say, what I want is for Sophie to develop a spirit of excellence where she gives her best no matter what she does knowing that whatever results she get, it brings glory to God.





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Comments: 18

  1. […] Another dot in the blogosphere?: #PSLE2021 (Part 2): The Dark Side – A Juggling Mum: A Christian Mum’s take on the PSLE changes – The Asian Parent: Exposure to racism and violence hampers children’s learning, behavior, […]

  2. Karen July 21, 2016 at 10:37 pm Reply

    So true! You’re such an encouraging Mum and Sophie is blessed. Our girls will be the first batch to this PSLE change, but I’m sure all will be good in His hands.

    • Susan July 24, 2016 at 8:57 am Reply

      Indeed all will be good in His hands. Our role is to teach them to do their best as a student 🙂

  3. Shub July 26, 2016 at 2:59 pm Reply

    I think my boy will get the new PSLE setup. Am pretty happy about the changes. As a parent, I don’t really want to stress them…Growth mindset is a perfect way to enhance their potential.

    • Susan July 27, 2016 at 8:54 pm Reply

      I’m sure the long-term goal of these changes is to ensure a more holistic education for our kids. Must say it’s in the right direction so far.

  4. Michelle July 26, 2016 at 3:29 pm Reply

    I believe education system can only do so much. It all comes down to a person’s attitude for learning and life in general. So I agree that we should help our children develop a growth mindset. I wouldn’t worry too much about the PSLE changes. It’s just an exam. Besides, they may change it again in a few years time!

  5. Pooja Kawatra Gupta July 26, 2016 at 4:39 pm Reply

    I was reading a post other day where some parents did mention the comparison in the grades before and after the change. For me it totally depends on parents attitude towards the studies and kids should learn from what they study rather than mug up and score fr a while.

  6. Debs G July 26, 2016 at 8:48 pm Reply

    Yes, I absolutely agree with you about a growth mindset where we are constantly looking to best ourselves and not comparing with other people. Hopefully this is the direction that most parents will take!

    • Susan July 28, 2016 at 8:25 am Reply

      I sure hope so too Deborah.

  7. Mummy Ed July 26, 2016 at 10:11 pm Reply

    I have not heard of the term “Growth mindset”, it’s interesting! And I will definitely check out the other resources you recommended too. As for PSLE changes, I didn’t read much about it because i’m thinking the only thing that will do any good is if they SCRAP the PSLE altogether 😀

    • Susan July 28, 2016 at 8:25 am Reply

      That will be too drastic and I doubt we’ll see it anytime soon.

      • Mummy Ed July 28, 2016 at 8:48 am Reply

        Unfortunately you’re right. But you know, I did not take my PSLE and I turned out pretty ok (I think :p). I should write a post on it soon.

  8. David Sim July 26, 2016 at 10:56 pm Reply

    Thanks for reminding me about the Growth Mindset – its all about perspectives and you’re very encouraging and our children need that because as long as PSLE and Primary school streaming is around…not much will change. Parents who will, WILL. That’s just natural but what is important is that we must intentionally remember to let our kids be kids and also to seek God’s direction on what HE has for them – after all, He was the one who gave them to us and therefore we should remember to seek His guidance.

  9. Jolin July 26, 2016 at 11:54 pm Reply

    Every system has its pros and flaws. Although the new changes give a wider range so students will not be so bent on chasing that 1 or 2 marks, but it is still academically based. To me, the best is to do away with PSLE and let the child enjoy learning and exploring through the primany school years, rather than stressing them on chasing the grades for PSLE.

    • Mummy Ed July 28, 2016 at 8:47 am Reply

      I agree!! Other countries don’t have PSLE so if there’s a will there’s a way to minimize the importance or even do away with it.

  10. Elgarmummy July 28, 2016 at 10:21 am Reply

    The first thought I have is my son better bucks up in his MT, if not it would pull down his score. I should find time to really think about the impact. I like the growth mindsetschool of thought. His primary school is reccomending this to the parents.

    • Susan July 29, 2016 at 8:25 am Reply

      Many parents have voiced their concerns about the MT too as our kids tend to struggle the most with this. My girl is in a SAP school and while I hope she continues with Higher Chinese all the way to P6, I’ll try not to stress her over it too.

  11. Mary H August 1, 2016 at 1:19 am Reply

    Sophie is blessed to have Mommy’s guidance which is grounded on Christian principles. I heard that schools are doing talks for parents to help them better understand the new changes. Has Sophie’s school done the talk? And did your perspective change after listening to the school leaders?

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