Choosing a primary school in Singapore
It goes like thisMommy : Dear, what do you think of ABC School?
Daddy : Huh, ABC ?? Never heard before.
Mommy: My friend is trying to send her kids there . They say it is a good school, top 20 schools in terms of overall academic and non academic achievements. It’s not so far from our place.
Daddy : It is slightly is more than 1km , if good school sure no chance one. Let’s stick to schools around 1km.
Mommy: But I studied there , so I thought we can consider it.
Daddy : Oh you studied there. Got proof?? (yeah I doubt my wife , may lightning strike me) I thought you study in some Chinese school ( Yes, ABC is a Chinese school and it didn’t cross my mind)If yes sure can go in. Can consider!
Mommy : Check my PLSE lor ( which incidentally is about 20 points higher than what yours truly scored.... I am a late bloomer!)
Daddy : Do you still keep it?? (Again doubting the poor wife)
(Above dialogue is modified for dramatic effect)
Which bring us to today’s topic on choosing a primary school in Singapore.
We would not dwell on the registration process. The information can be found on the MOE website here. I know registration for our firstborn is not until July 2013 , but it is not too early to start thinking about the options. We are aware that some parents even plan this before the child is born ! In case you are wondering, some parents already started planning by choosing the location of the house before they are married. So in terms of kiasuism, we are definitely at the lower end of the scale.
However choosing a primary school should not be 'masak masak'. The school chosen would set your foundations and most likely define who you are.We would like to share our thought process in determining the schools for you.
We will decide on the choices base on our current home location. Given that this is the third place we shifted since marriage, we can safely say that we did not plan for your school before you are born.
Our collective thought process is govern by our chances to getting into the school of our shortlisted school of choice. We will analyse this on the primary 1 education guideline set by MOE.
Before we proceed we have set some criteria for the schools we shortlist
1) Ideally near to home and to Grandma's house ( that is where the kids will be in the afternoon)
2) Stress Free registration - There are too much stress in life and this should not be one of them
3) No Parent Volunteering- Considering that both of us are working, this is not an option.
4) Reputable school in academic and character development - Every parent naturally want what is good for the kids.If there are schools of equal consideration, this may take precedence over the others.
5) Conducive and less stress environment for him- We do not believe in choosing the best if it is going to be stressful for the child.
For a child who has a sibling studying in the primary school of choice
Verdict : We can rule this out for the firstborn. However this will apply for the younger one as we would like them to be in the same primary school in the future.
Phase 2A (1)
(a)For a child whose parent is a former student of the primary school and who has joined the alumni association as a member
(b) For a child whose parent is a member if the School Advisory / Management Committee
Verdict : These 2 are out as well as it is too late for us to join alumni ( need 1 year before registration Jun 2013) and we are not a member in any school committee
Phase 2A (2)
(a) For a child whose parent or sibling has studied in the primary school of choice
(b) For a child whose parent is a staff member of the primary school of choice
Verdict : This looks promising. Our old schools falls under this phase. The boys would have a choice of XYZ (my former school)(<2km) or ABC School (<2km) . The 2 schools will be added to the shortlisted school
Note: There are no distance considerations or limited vacancies from Phase 1-2A from past records (Although in theory, it can happen) If you can secure a place in these phases, do seriously consider this option) Thereafter 50% of remaining space will go to Phase 2B and 50% to Phase
(a) For a child whose parent has joined the primary school as a parent volunteer not later than 1 year
before registration and has given at least 40 hours of voluntary service to the school by regisrtation date
(b) For a child whose parent is a member endorsed by the church/clan directly connected with the primary school
(c) For a child whose parent is endorsed as an active community leader
Verdict : For (a) , we do not intend to be PV. There are 2 schools within 1 Km are DDD and EEE . DDD PV does not guarantee a space base on previous balloting results ( 50% chance), EEE traditionally has no issue under phase 2C for those <1Km. For (b) and (c) we are a little too late to join any clan or community to qualify
Note : If you are living >2km and at certain schools > 1 km, it may be wise not to register as parent volunteer as you may not even stand a chance for ballot. Do check the Balloting History here for more information
For all Children who are eligible for Primary One in the following year and are not yet registered in a primary school
Verdict : This is the round that we call the Roulette or Wheel of Fortune. Depending on school of choice, some require balloting for those living within 1 km. For the less popular one, balloting may be needed for those < 2Km . Again our options are DDD and EEE which we will add to our short list
Phase 2C Supplementary
For a child who is not registered in school after phase 2C
Verdict : As per Phase 2C
Note : Singaporeans and Singapore PR qualify for Phase 1 to Phase 2C. Singaporeans will get absolute priority over Singapore PR when it comes to balloting
For a child who is neither a Singapore Citizen nor a Singapore Permanent Resident
Note : First come First serve in many schools under this phase.
After this natural selection exercise, we have this shortlist base on our location
Under Phase 2A
ABC (Mom's ex school)XYZ (Dad's ex school)
Under Phase 2CDDD ( <1Km)EEE (< 1Km)
We are undecided if we should choose schools where we have a guaranteed spot vs schools that are nearer to us. Even within phase 2A, there are considerations such as distance to grandparent's house, school's academic records, co-ed schools and even religion to evaluate.I guess our final decision will be made during the June registration. We would consider the boy's opinion as well in our decision. Till that time comes, it may be good to trawl the Kaisu Parents Forum for more information on the choice on school. Hopefully with those information, we can choose the school best suited for our son at the end of the day.
Let's hope we could be enlightened by June next year.
(The above scenerio could be play out at any household. Just replace the ABC, XYZ , DDD and EEE schools with schools that are in your region. It would not be surprising if there are similar experiences faced by many)