Guide to Selecting a Secondary School for your child

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I have gone through the PSLE twice and am done with it for the rest of my life. Thought it would be good to share my experience of choosing a Secondary School for my boys with first time PSLE parents, hopefully to help to relieve some headache when the time comes for choosing a Secondary School for your child. 

Remember, for Primary School, it is we parents who chose the School for our child, but for Secondary School, it is the School which chooses our child based on the PSLE score. Sad but true.
 
The trick to relieving the headache of choosing a School for your child after the release of the PSLE is to do your homework as early as a few years back. In other words, preparation starts a few years before (at least 2 to 3 years before), not the few days after the PSLE results have been released.   No need to fret or tear your hair apart if you have not done your homework. It is still not too late, it is only March, you still have at least 6 to 8 months to do your homework. 
 
I have given a list of COPs for the 2009 and 2010 intake in my earlier article. You can use it as a guide to start somewhere.
 
For me, I went back as far as 3 years before my boys actually sat for the PSLE. I collated the COPs of about 20 schools prior to my boys’ PSLE year, beg, borrow or steal those very useful PSLE COPs booklets given by the MOE or go to the MOE website to search for the various COPs for the schools that you are interested in applying to. By observing and charting the COPs of the selected schools, I was able to observe the trend of COPs for those schools.
 
With the table that I collated over the years, selecting a School was a breeze when the PSLE results were finally released. In fact, for both boys, we submitted our choices by the very afternoon the results were released, thus saving us the headache of pondering over which Schools to choose to fill up the 6 choices given by the MOE.
 
I took into account a few criteria when I shortlisted those 20 odd schools or so for my boys – distance, whether the School is SAP or not (can use the HMT bonus points), programmes of the school, CCA options, track records etc. 
 
Another very important point to note is that it is almost a must to visit as many Schools’ open house as possible for the child to see and soak in the School environment himself/herself. If a child likes a particular School very much, that itself would be a very good motivation for him/her to work towards getting into that School of his/her choice. Been there, done that.  No point choosing a School which the parents like and want the child to go it, after all, it is the next 4 – 6 years of a child’s life that we are talking about.
 
Glad to say that with my homework etc, both my boys got into above average Secondary Schools of our choice.
 
Here’s a example of the homework that I did for both boys. Schools were arranged according to merit.
 
School
Year XX
Year XX+1
Year XX+2
Year XX+3
 
Remarks
School A
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School B
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School C
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School D
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School E
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School F
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School G
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School H
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School I
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School J
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School K
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School L
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School M
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School N
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
School O
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
2XX-2XX
 
 
Depending on the PSLE score of the child, these were the choice of Schools that I shortlisted.
 
260 +
251 – 259
241-250
231-240
220-230
School A
School B
School C
School D
School D
School B
School C
School D
School E
School E
School C
School D
School E
School F
School F
School D
School E
School F
School G
School G
School E
School F
School G
School H
School H
School F
School G
School H
School I
School I
 
Hope the above is useful in helping first time PSLE parents.
Mon 29/03/2010