At St Andrews, parent Stanley Ng was impressed by how success was defined and celebrated. “The first thing the school announced was that 13 students from the foundation class had made it to the Normal (Academic) stream. This was lauded as a good achievement for them and the whole school clapped and celebrated with them.”

The school briefly mentioned the students who had an aggregate score of above 250 and then proceeded to spend much more time honouring a student from each class who had done well given their circumstances. For example, one student who had faced challenging family circumstances was held up as a role model of determination and focus through the exams.

Stanley was pleasantly surprised that his son Elliot was praised for marked improvement, replacing a Math “C” grade in his prelim results with an “A” in the PSLE.

Said Stanley, “After his prelims, Elliot realised for himself that he needed extra help and asked us to assist. By that stage, I figured that focused learning would best serve my son and found specific tutors that could help in his weak areas. I’m really glad that he could persevere through the initial weak results and actively look for ways to improve. Elliot worked very hard between the prelims and the PSLE and, even though these are not the best grades in the school, I’m very proud of him.”

Elliot himself was happy that his school had focused more on the students who made it to the Normal Academic stream and those that improved or demonstrated exemplary behaviour from each class.

It is really heartwarming to see how the Singapore education system is being calibrated to recognise a broader range of individual performances and to celebrate these personal successes. In doing so, we reinforce to all students that it is the process that counts, and the good old values of grit and hard work that we as a nation will honour.

Praising hard work instead of raw smarts, according to social scientists, is the way to stimulate further effort and success in children. Kudos to St Andrews and all other schools which are moving in that direction!

Which other schools do we know of which did their announcements like this?