Studying the enactment of School-Based Curriculum Development (SBCD) in Singapore

Li Yi Wang, Der Thanq Chen Victor, Wei Leng Neo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: To help equip students with 21st century competencies, one popular strategy adopted by governments and schools worldwide is to move from less formal to more engaging school environments through School-Based Curriculum Development (SBCD). In Singapore, the governmental call to Teach Less and Learn More has galvanised SBCD in schools nationwide. Schools have been given more autonomy and greater flexibility to develop diverse approaches in innovating their own curriculum frameworks. Purpose: This study aims to provide a nuanced, retrospective account of the enactment of SBCD via Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-integrated, theme-based programmes in a primary school in Singapore. The research questions that guide this study are: (1) How do the school stakeholders enact SBCD? (2) How does the enactment affect the school stakeholders? Method: This study looked into curriculum innovation using a retrospective lens and employed a case study approach to examine the enactment of SBCD in the school. Five focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted with the major stakeholders of the school, including two school leaders, ten key personnel and ten teachers across different subjects and grade levels. Thematic analysis of the data was undertaken. Findings: Four themes and twelve associated sub-themes were identified from the analysis of the FGDs. The four themes include experimentation, support, growth and challenges. This whole-school approach to curriculum innovation had a clear focus on mobilizing the school community to tackle the uncertainties of implementing an innovative curriculum. The stakeholders played diverse but intertwined roles throughout different stages of the enactment process, producing strong collegiality amongst the stakeholders. This prevailing collegiality, as embedded in the active participation of the stakeholders in a multiplicity of collective sharing and learning practices, seems likely to help the school achieved desired outcomes. Conclusions: The whole-school approach to curriculum innovation in the case school is promising from the perspectives of teaching-learning and student outcomes, but cannot provide a panacea for all the challenges encountered in the enactment process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-355
Number of pages19
JournalEducational Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul 3


  • 21 century competencies
  • School-Based Curriculum Development (SBCD)
  • Singapore
  • distributed leadership
  • enactment
  • primary education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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