Should struggling students be 
held back?

Social promotion is likely to be a talking point once again as the political candidates roll out their education platforms ahead of the election. 

While some politicians push for a US style policy of holding students back if they fail to reach certain standards, others argue such a move would have long-term negative effects on struggling students. 

There are no plans from the government to change the policy of advancing under performing students with their age-group peers. 

Minister Rolston Anglin said he aims to improve “intervention” and increase specialist support in schools and during the summer break for those that are falling behind.  

“We are committed to continuing with a policy of inclusivity. A key national priority for us is to focus on working intensively on improving literacy and numeracy skills, and making sure that all students, irrespective of ability, are supported in reaching the highest levels they possibly can.” 

There are measures in place that allow for a small number of students to be held back if it is considered in the best interests of the child, though this is rare.  

The ministry does not support a grade retention policy citing research that suggests it simply doesn’t work. 

Independent candidate Winston Connolly begs to differ and has argued that students should have to meet certain standards to move up a grade. 

“We need to stop the practice of social promotion where we advance and graduate students regardless of whether or not they successfully achieve the educational standards for their grade level,” he said. 

Opponents of social promotion argue that it positions already struggling students for further failure.  

It is also believed that the threat of being held back provides a compelling incentive for struggling students to work hard and ensure they graduate. 

Supporters of the policy argue that holding students back a year increases drop-out rates and can lead to bullying and depression. They also say there is no evidence of long-term academic benefits. 


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  1. I agree with Mr. Connolly. We need to stop pampering these students and let them face what reality really is. How will they ever grow and turn this country around if we continue to pamper them.
    Yes, hold back students who do not meet educational requirements for advance placement. It should not be anyone’s responsibilty but the student’s to make sure that their education is priority.
    This country needs to be more strick when it comes to our educational policy. Continuing to pamper these students will eventually lead them to quickly run to government whenever they cannot get their way in hope that governement will bail them out. They will lack independence.

  2. The issue is complex. I agree with d3391’s take on it. However, in the long term, chronically hold back students are in the risk of entirely dropping out of the system, which creates a risk for antisocial activities and social dependency.

    Students that have been hold back due to their inability to cope with their studies should not be pampered; they should not be freely promoted to upper grades either. But a secondary curriculum, as in vocational schools, apprenticeships and similar, should be available for those whose academic careers will never be fruitful, and yet can become productive members of society.

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