3 things That You May Have Overlooked In The Latest P4 Mathematics Syllabus

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*UPDATED on 14 JANUARY 2016

MOE confirmed that the topic “Money” is covered from Primary 1 to Primary 3 and is revisited under “Decimals” in Primary 4. Tessellation is taken out of 2013 Primary Mathematics Syllabus and “Multiplication of Fractions” has shifted to Primary 5.


The new year brings a new start and for those of you who have had your kids start Primary 1 in 2013, you must be familiar with the new syllabus MOE introduced for Mathematics.  This is a mere 6 years after the previous syllabus was released in 2007.  Knowing our hardworking folks in MOE, they probably already started planning this new syllabus then (and are already taking notes for the next change!)

p4syallbusFor those of you who are unaware, here is a primer – every several years, MOE updates and changes the syllabus to ensure it is inline with developing trends and “takes into consideration the analyses of students’ performance in national examinations as well as international studies such as TIMSS and PISA.”  Developing trends also include how changes in learning methods, lifestyle and other factors affect curriculum.

When this new 2013 Syllabus was released, it only contained information from Primary 1 to Primary 3.  We at Tutate have been eagerly awaiting the release of the Primary 4 syllabus and it finally happened in December last year.  Knowing the changes  in the syllabus is important for parents and tutors who are making sure the child is ready for any change.  If we take a closer look at it, there are numerous notable modifications compared with the previous syllabus:

1.  Less Content

You would think that MOE would squeeze more content in but surprise, surprise!  There is actually a reduction in content.  We have observed that Four Operations of Money, Multiplication of Fractions, and Tessellation that were previously covered under the P4 mathematics syllabus are not listed in the 2013 Syllabus.  We understand that schools have already managed to cover Four Operations of Money in P3, so this might be an acknowledgement that P3 students are able to grasp and master this sub-topic earlier.

While these sub-topics are not listed, this does not mean they won’t reappear in P5 or P6 Syllabus (which are not out yet), we can only hope that at least for now, students in P4 get to spend more time on practicing and strengthening their foundation for the reduced number of topics covered.  In case you want to get a feel of these 3 topics, try them out below through Tutate:

  fractions  tessellations

2.  More Emphasis on Problem Solving Skills

In the 2013 syllabus, MOE has, for the first time, incorporated a section titled “Learning, Teaching and Assessment”.  Here, it is specifically indicated that “teaching should connect learning to the real world”.  Furthermore, the core emphasis on “Learning Experiences” has been introduced in the updated syllabus guide, detailing instructions on the potential hands-on activities to be employed in students’ learning, for example, the usage of cards and number discs to demonstrate difficult and complicated concepts. Therefore, fulfilling the underlying purpose to ensure that students are able to solve real world problems in the context of the 21st century.

3.  Highlight the Importance of Technology

An obvious emphasis on the use of technology in teaching and learning is stressed, with mentions of the words “applets” and “digital” peppered throughout the guide. Technology will clearly play a more important role in primary school education, be it through utilizing information and communication technologies tools by teachers to illustrate concepts, or constructing spreadsheets to better understand the concepts. As an example, the new syllabus explicitly points out that P4 students are expected to use software like Excel to analyze data.

There is indeed a significant change in the revised P4 mathematics syllabus. With considerable importance placed on the usage of technology, parents should expect their children to be well versed in various software, apps and technologies that the school is incorporating into their children’s education. Finding appropriate and aligned mathematics exercises which are both updated in line with the changing syllabus, and makes use of technology, becomes important for students to score in P4 mathematics examinations. 

What Does This All Mean?

We shall reserve any comments on the change in content since the syllabus for P5 and P6 is not out yet and it may just mean the topics have been delayed or compressed into earlier topics.  But the other two changes is a reflection of MOE’s commitment towards ensuring the way students learn are in-tuned with changing times.  Not only will digital applications like Tutate become more commonplace, students are expected to be more hands-on in applying the knowledge they acquired into real-world problems.

We feel this is a shift in the right direction – as a society, we are increasingly aware that education is not only about rote learning but about understanding the world around us.  Applicational-based learning is a principle we believe will be a core foundation of education going forward.

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