As we approach Phase 2C, parents will have to make an important decision on the Primary school that our children will be attending for the next 6 years. In this article, we will go over some of the criteria that many parents will consider, and propose a structured way to make sense of all these different aspects of a school.
Here are the steps:
1) Short list the schools you are interested in. This usually includes your alma mater (or your spouse’s), schools which are in your immediate vicinity, and schools recommended by friends and family.
2) Identify the criteria that you care about. There are many that you should consider. Here are some suggestions:
Distance. This is obvious, since a school far away will mean higher transport costs and more worn-out and grumpy kids .
Facilities. Some schools have nice facilities like tennis courts, football fields, and even swimming pools. Newer schools, or schools which have undergone PRIME renovation will have spanking new and bleeding edge facilities.
CCA & special niches. Some schools are famous for their wizardry in certain CCAs (eg. sports, chess, chinese orchestra). Others have special niches (eg. GEP, SAP). This could be important if you feel your child has talent in some of these areas that you would like to groom.
Religious affiliations. Schools run by religious organisations will have a strong focus on the religion they practise, even as they remain tolerant towards students of other faiths.
Affiliation to Secondary schools. The Secondary section of full schools will offer lower cut-off points for graduates from the Primary section, making it easier for their students to get into the Secondary school even with weaker PSLE results.
Academic Standing. As MOE does not publish the actual results of PSLE graduates, you will have to rely on hearsay to establish what you think is the academic standing of the schools. It is also possible that Principals and other school administrators may actually verbally provide you with information that allows you to make a better judgement. Try your luck and ask for the following:
Overall PSLE passing rates for the school in the previous 3 years for all subjects (English, Chinese, Maths, Science), and perhaps the higher mother tongue (HMT) subjects.
Overall quality PSLE passing rates for each subject. This is the number of A-stars achieved by the PSLE graduates for the subject. An A-star is a score 90% or more.
Reputation of the Principal or faculty. This is highly subjective and really depends on who you hear from. The more people you talk to, the more accurate will be your perceived impression on the reputation of the faculty. And of course, talk to the person him/herself. This will help to underscore your confidence in the school’s ability to guide and groom its students.
3) Rank your criteria. Assign a weightage to each criteria, depending on how important you think it is relative to other criteria. The sum of all the weightages should add up to 100%.
4) Visit the schools to collect your data. Go to each school and observe it for yourself. Talk to the Principal or senior staff members. Visit the facilities, and take note of the behavior of students and how they relate to teachers.
5) Rank your schools based on each criteria. Once you have all the data you need, it’s time to rank the schools according to your criteria. For example, if you have shortlisted 3 schools, give a score of 1 to the school which you think is the worse amongst the 3 for that criteria, and a score of 3 for the one that you feel is the best. Higher scores indicate that you prefer that school in terms of that criteria.
6) Make your decision. Multiply the weightage with each score and total up all values. The school with the highest value should be the one most suitable for you.
Below is a table that shows an example of the above process (which I went through myself):
School A scores the highest with a value of 2.85, so it should be the one selected.