class size in Singapore

Former Secondary Math Teacher with over ten years of experience Mrs Elizabeth Ong shares her views:

Talk to any teachers or parents and you will surely hear mixed responses on what exactly should be the ideal class size in school. Being a former teacher, I am definitely for the (piped) dream of having a smaller class size, simply because it would allow me to get to know my students better and dedicate more resources towards them.

My sentiments are shared by others. According to a study by Princeton University professors, one of the key advantages of having smaller class sizes is that teachers are able to get to know their students better, and can build stronger relationships. The Princeton study also noted that students who were in schools with smaller class sizes scored higher on achievement tests, even when they were no longer in a smaller-class-size model school.

Currently, the average class size in Singapore for mainstream schools (primary and secondary) can go up to 40 students per class. Each class usually have a Lead Form Teacher and one or two Co-Form Teachers (usually for Normal Technical or Academic Classes which will cease to exist by 2024.) In the recent years, MOE has gradually been trying to increase the Teacher to Student ratio by having some classes to be conducted by two Teachers, one leading and the other facilitating. MOE has also hired more Allied Educators that can support Teachers during lessons administratively or reaching out to “weaker” students that need more guidance.


It is no secret that teachers find it more challenging to work with students in classes larger than 25 or 30 students. Large classrooms make discussion and group work more difficult. A study conducted by three professors at the University of London found that in larger classrooms, students were definitely less engaged. What was most surprising to the professors was that students who disengaged were the students struggling most in school. Also, the teacher had more negative behaviors to address with students who were having difficulty in school.

Will there ever be a day where our class size in government schools will shrink to just 20 per class? Perhaps.

In the upcoming GE 2020 election in Singapore, the worker’s party is proposing that reform as part of their manifesto.


Here are some of the proposals WP laid out in its manifesto:


  • Prune average class sizes to 20 — from the present 29 to 34 in primary and secondary schools
  • In nations that are part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, whose membership comprises mostly rich countries, the average class size is between 21 and 24
  • The smaller classes should be instituted progressively, with academically weaker students benefiting first. Priority should be given to foundational subjects in primary schools and Normal stream subjects in secondary schools

Although there are numerous advantages when it comes to having a small class size, yet there are similar benefits that we should recognize when it comes to having a larger class can offer. Other than easing the taxpayer’s pockets due to economics of scale, a larger class size can actually promote diversity and having more students in a class often translate to higher energy and fun. Classes will go by quicker and are less boring, students may also indirectly become more independent because teachers would not be able to pay too much attention to them.

A smaller class size may be a pie in the sky for now. Most parents would definitely wish that it can be realised soon. In the meantime, finding tutors can definitely help support your children’s academic journey. For math tuition by former MOE teachers , please contact here.

online tuition becomes a norm

It is 8pm and fourteen-year-old Li Wen from Pudong, Shanghai is sitting in his study room, looking attentively at his screen with his headset microphone in place and furiously typing away on his laptop. His parents are in the living room, watching television but with the volume turned down so that they won’t disturb him. Li Wen is having his English tuition with a Singaporean tutor online as he wants to familiarise himself with the local AEIS examinations syllabus in Singapore. He had originally wanted to come to Singapore this year but postponed the trip because of the Covid-19 pandemic. To get a head start, he signed up for online tuition so that he can ready himself before his AEIS Exams.

“Singapore Math is easy. It is English that I need help. Writing is not that easy. My vocabulary not very good.” Li Wen says in halting English with a heavy Shanghainese accent.

Online tuition is relatively common in China. Chinese students are engaging internationally based tutors to help them with their schoolwork, mostly languages or to prepare for exams like SAT.


In Singapore, online tuition is still at a nascent stage. On 27 March, the Government announced that centre-based tuition will be suspended as part of many measures to curb the Covid-19 outbreak. This has resulted in many tutors and tuition providers going online, conducting e-lessons for their students using Zoom, Google classrooms, Skypes.

Although most parents are new to the concept of online tuition, many are ready to embrace the idea due to the uncertainty of the future. Safety and protection is on the top of parent’s mind and given the fact that there is currently no vaccine ready for Covid-19 virus. The thought of sending their children to mingle with other kids in a mall environment or inviting a stranger to your house is the main reason why some parents are starting to embrace online tuition.

What are the key benefits of online tuition?

Ms Kristie Lim, founder and principal of Mind Stretcher Education, shares the merits of online tuition. “Some of the feedback we have received is that quieter students are now more vocal and ask more questions, and the students are actually less distracted because they’re not next to their friends physically,” said Ms Lim.


Indeed, recent surveys have found that online tuition can indeed be very effective for older students (Secondary to Junior Colleges). Other than being less distracted by their peers, students who have one-on-one online tuition share the fact that the tutors can actually see the screen of their students while coaching, reduces the likelihood of students being distracted by other elements.

Although they can work from their own home, many tutors and teachers expressed that online classes actually means more work and planning much ahead as many of the teaching materials have to be prepared ahead of time and digitalised, tutors may even have to use online quizzes and other interactive apps to make learning more interactive.

Online tuition is gaining popularity with students, particularly those who are taking their national examinations this year. Marcus Koh from NCHS, who is taking his O’levels this year, shares that “I choose to start online tuition because I really cannot afford to wait anymore. I don’t know when this pandemic will end. I cannot take the risk of having being infected so I don’t really want to go for group classes or have a tutor visit. It is my O’levels this year and I am not confident about certain subjects, especially English. I cannot afford to get any grade below B3. I really need the help now.”


Wong Meiling, a second year Junior College student who is taking her A Levels this year concurs, “ Online tuition is a breeze. I am able to really focus and the fact that I am able to have one-to-one consultation with my tutors online is extremely useful to me. I like the fact that I get to share screens with my tutor and because everything is digital, I can review my mistakes, go through the recorded lessons for revisions. Another thing that I find much better than physical lessons is the fact that now all my notes are made online. Revision is now so much more convenient. All my chemistry notes are in my google docs. I can read it anywhere and anytime.” 

On the flip side, not everyone can and should embrace online tuition. Younger children will not be able to sit in front of a screen for two hours at one shot, and it will not be recommended for them to have too much screen time, considering they are already having HBL learning from school.

Will online tuition become a norm in the future? Given the fact that there is no vaccine and PM Lee has highlighted concerns of ‘hidden reservoir’ of Covid-19 cases, parents are going to err on the side of caution. Globally, there are close to eight million Coronavirus cases and half a million people have died from this pandemic. Many have asked How long before a coronavirus vaccine is ready? Will we have a vaccine by January 2021? Vaccines typically take years — sometimes even decades — to develop, approve, manufacture and distribute globally. The novel coronavirus appears to be two to three times more contagious than the flu. Not many parents are willing to take the risk of having their children be exposed to so much social-mingling but at the same time, they remain worried about their children’s academics progress. Some parents have lamented about the inadequacies of HBL, the lack of “live lessons” and consultations with Teachers, the cancellation of mid-year examinations … all these factors are pushing them to sign up for online tuition.


What is online tuition and should my children try it?

At The Learning Space, what truly sets us apart is our strong team of tutors. We’re extremely selective — we have a strong team of current and former MOE Teachers who are highly experience in their disciplines. Some of them are former teachers from top secondary and junior colleges like RGS, Nanyang Girls, Victoria School and more. We also have professional full time tutors who come from top-tier colleges & universities.

We believe that majority of our tutors are the best in their field and provide mentorship that other tutors don’t offer. You can view the qualifications & experience of available Teachers and tutors before you engage our tutors. So contact us today and let us help you or your children achieve their goals.