5 Crucial Factors to Consider When Choosing a Secondary School

It is only but natural for a parent to want nothing but the best education for their child. And now that the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results are released, the anxiety levels of future secondary schoolers’ parents are sure to shoot up in tremendous heights.

Growing up in a Singaporean-style education, especially, spells stress―usually brought by the pressure of getting your child in a school that would fit your standards. Regardless of social status or financial capability, parents are naturally drawn to the idea of enrolling their son or daughter in the best school they can find.

But what really is the huge fuss about choosing a good secondary school for your child? For the benefit of those who are first-timers in the education system of Singapore, PSLE is a nation-wide examination which is administered by the Ministry of Education (MOE), and is mandatorily taken by all students near the end of their sixth year in primary school before they move on to secondary school. And unlike in primary school, primary level graduates won’t have the luxury to choose which secondary school they can go to because all of this will be determined by the aggregate scores they’ll get from their PSLE results.

With PSLE being the root of parents’ growing worry and students’ nervousness, the government have started considering to scrap the said national examination. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed in 2013 that PSLE is simply a “distinction which is meaningless and too fine.” He also said, “With the change, there will be “space to educate and develop students more holistically. I think we should make some careful changes to the PSLE system.” This piece of information may or may not ease a Singaporean parent’s worry, but while PSLE is here to stay, here are some critical points to take in consideration when choosing a good secondary school for your child:

1. Finding a good location nearby.

The quickest way to come up with a list of possible secondary schools to choose from is to jot down those that are within manageable distance from your residence. And when we say ‘good,’ your chosen school should be accessible to both your home―and if possible―you and your spouse’s workplace. Remember, too much travelling is not recommended because it wastes time and effort. Eliminating excessive travelling will afford you and your child more time to rest at home, do their homework, or even play.

2. Going for open houses.

No matter how enticing a secondary school appears, nothing beats actually visiting schools physically. It is also a good idea to tag your child along so he/she can feel if it is the right one for them. After all, they are the ones who are going to be spending a good chunk of their time there, so it is only right that they can have first look in a school.

But what if you miss all the open house schedules of the schools you have been eyeing on? “Open house may be over, but most schools would still allow you and your child to go in and have a look.” a parent with the moniker, A better tomorrow, writes at the KiasuParents forum. “I would recommend you to have a look at the school, and maybe ask the students there about how they feel about the school.”

Simply put, don’t hesitate to ask the school’s facilitators for a tour. More often than not, they will be more than happy to oblige such a request. Plus, you can ask as many questions as you wish because the school’s staff will only be catering to you, as opposed to the hundreds that come up to them during open houses.

3. Hunting for co-curricular activities (CCA).

An online debate concluded that grades do not determine one’s intelligence. It is true, though; With the Singapore’s high standard of education, it is equally important to have your child engage in co-curricular activities that would wholly cultivate him/her as a well-rounded human being.

Having your child engage in CCAs is also time-consuming, so make sure they take something that would appeal in their line of interest. Example: If you have a daughter who is more inclined to kinesthetics, Cedar Girls’ Secondary School offers comprehensive sports programmes including badminton and basketball. Xinmin Secondary School, on the other hand, caters to male students and offers good CCA athletic curriculum, as well.

PSLE passers who are inclined to performing arts may check out schools like Loyang Secondary School, Punggol Secondary School and Dunman High School. These schools enriches members musically and instills discipline, civic-mindedness and team spirit. If your child gets to be in the band, he or she can engage in exciting activities such as concerts, music camps, music exchanges, community service, performance tours and competitions, both locally and abroad.

To make it easier for you to sift through rosters of CCAs, it will be good if a secondary school covers the essential categories; these include Uniform Groups, Arts & Aesthetics, Sports and Clubs & Societies. Tally them all per category so you and your child can both decide which interest he/she is mostly drawn into.

4. Knowing what your child wants.

Now this is a tip that most parents often overlook during the decision-making process. Because PSLE is considered one of the defining moments in your child’s education, parents like you often get caught up with what you want, not what your child wants. As cliche as it may sound, keeping communication lines open by asking your child’s opinions does wonders for your parent-child relationship.

5. If all else fails, refer to the booklet.

Thankfully, MOE has provided a downloadable booklet which contains all the important information you will need about secondary education. It is highly recommended that you print it out or store it on your mobile device so you can access it anytime, should something from the subject is unclear to you.

Supplementary Notes

The above guide simply serves as a guide for parents who are about to help their children embark on their secondary education journey. Of course, there are other exhaustive factors that should be looked into, like which is the best school that your daughter or son can get into with whatever results they have from their PSLE. Lastly, do know that no matter what kind of grades your child gets, it is our responsibility as a parent to scour through the best options.

:: Join in our forum discussions on secondary schools selection here.

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