Registering your child for Primary 1 next year, and anxiously tracking the number of remaining places for your top-choice school? Or losing sleep over not being able to register for a popular school until Phase 2C?
Perhaps it’s time to give some attention to your safety school instead.
If this is the first time you’ve heard the term, a “safety school” is a school that your child is almost guaranteed to get into. Since there are no grades involved in Primary 1 registration, your main concern will be the likelihood of balloting for school entry in Phase 2C and beyond, which you can read more about in our post “Get Ready For 2021 P1 Registration.” (If you need a refresher on the different phases of the P1 registration process, please bookmark the Ministry of Education’s P1 Registration Page.)
Below, we have listed the primary schools that KSP considers “no-risk” or “low-risk,” when it comes to balloting at Phase 2C. Do visit their official websites and e-open house sites, and sign up for their webinars if you can spare the time. If you have further questions, all it takes to link up with a school is a phone call or an e-mail.
How much can you learn about a school’s culture from its website and social media channels? Well, just as one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you should temper your expectations and not expect anything too fancy. It is a complex operation to keep a school running, and the websites and social media channels are just one of many balls to juggle.
However, considering the times that we’re in, technology is the easiest way to reach people, and a better user experience may indicate the presence of school leaders who are more in tune with digital technology. This may also hint at how comfortable the school is with home-based learning (or HBL, as we know it). This is important because Covid-19 vaccinations for children under 12 are still a question mark at the moment, and HBL will likely remain a significant part of the school experience, especially for primary schoolers.
Given the current media spotlight on Singapore’s race relations, you may also be concerned about the diversity of the school community. Most of our primary schools make it a point to feature students of different races on their websites, so it would be a red flag if you don’t see that on a school website. Beyond that, it will be hard to tell if a school environment will be culturally sensitive. What you can look for — in the school updates section — are efforts to do more than getting students to dress up in ethnic costumes on Racial Harmony Day. For instance, if a school has made attempts to discuss what race really means, to learn about different cultures, or to explore what racism is about, it would have gone much deeper into building true understanding between the races than most schools.
If you have a chance to watch a welcome address by the school leaders, or read their speeches, you can observe if they tend to rely on platitudes, or if they make the effort to use concrete examples to illustrate their points. School leaders may not be the ones who are actually educating your children, but they do set the expectations for how teaching should be carried out. Although we should never judge someone solely on a video or a piece of writing, sometimes, it is from these channels that you get a sense of whether you like someone, and it’s important to start off your child’s school journey with a basic level of trust.
Finally, some schools have made their videos and resources available for parents to view at their convenience, which would reflect an openness towards communication, as opposed to a school where the “open house” is limited to a single-session webinar that is not made available for public viewing. That said, a school may be facing constraints that we don’t know about, and the best way to see if they are keen to engage parents is to get in touch with them. How they respond to your questions, and whether the door is left open for you to find out more, will signal their interest in building ties with the wider community of interested parents. It may be a little unfair, if an already bogged-down teacher has been handed the additional task of dealing with parent enquiries. But as parents, we have few other ways of assessing a relatively unknown school, and the school that provides the warmest reception will easily become the clear winner.
As the safety school that you are considering is likely in or around your neighbourhood, do talk to your neighbours to get the inside scoop. But again, bear in mind that every child’s school experience is shaped by different factors, from their school readiness to social skills and resilience. Two children studying in the same school may view it entirely differently, and you will never be able to predict with certainty that a school will work out perfectly for your child.
Keeping an open mind will be crucial during this period, and you can read our conversation with a mother who registered her child in a neighbourhood school some years ago, after being unsuccessful in her balloting efforts during Phases 2B and 2C. For more tips, you can also read our guide to finding a school that you’re happy with in Phase 2C. Here’s wishing you and your child all the best in your school search!