My son received the high achievers award when he was in Primary 1. When it came to Primary 2, I optimistically presumed that smartness was in his genes and he would be able to maintain his grades. I had hopes of him getting into a High Achievers (HA) Class during the Primary 2 streaming and thought it would be a piece of cake since the school streams students into High Achievers and Mixed Ability (MA) classes based on the students’ grades.

That hope became dimmer with each passing test as his Chinese grades started to slide. I was still hoping against all hope even when his final results came. It was finally squashed when the school officially announced the class he was allocated to. Another mummy friend also shared she too had sleepless nights over worrying if her child got into a HA class. I comforted myself that perhaps, it was better as it would be less stressful for him since he would not have to compete with the crème de la crème.

During the Meet-the-Parent session we were told that the HA classes expose students to more challenging questions. The students are given additional projects and lesson pace is much faster. Thus, the banding would allow teachers to teach students at the correct pace.

From a pragmatic perspective, the segregation of educational pace for greater efficiencies should draw no friction. However, the emotive backlash from being labelled ‘elite’ and ‘normal’ - no matter how schools try to sugar-coated it - at Primary 3 gets to the guts of many a parent.

While there are some who welcome the banding of HA because they believe their child would have an edge over the rest, there are others who feel it creates elitism. They also worry students from MA classes would lose out by not having the additional work, even though they are sitting for that same exam.

My friends whose children are in the HA classes, often bemoan that there is a lot of competition and pressure among the students. Expectations to score well are higher and the teachers tend to be stricter. Majority of these students have enrichment classes and they know the subject lesson even before it is being taught in school. This creates a different level of competitiveness and pressure which can be felt by both children and their parents.

Like every parent, I too want the best for my child. I want him to do well in school, but I also want him to have a childhood. Thus, there’s a constant battle between “Yes he has to attend more classes to get that A grade!” vs “Let’s go and play!” I continue to struggle with these every day, moving between the barometers of influences from parent chats, rumours, claims, to the fluctuations of my son’s tests.

And every time I tell myself that as long as I do my best, the journey ahead for my boy will always be one with my support and love.

Mummy Stasy (not her real name)

is a 40 year-old who worked as a marketer at various MNCs before she decided to be a stay-at-home mom to look after her boy. She is married to a Star Wars fanatic, and sometimes feel that she is actually taking care of 2 boys. These days, her time is also spent during volunteer work, catching up with other moms, and planning for weekends with the family.

Her child regardless of type of school and teachers and us as parents play the ultimate roles in shaping their future.