It’s the period for Primary 1 registration again and parents with children starting primary school next year are stressed and monitoring closely if their child can successfully get into their preferred school.
My husband and I have been monitoring the registration for Primary 1 since our child was born five years ago. My hubby will monitor the results of the different phases and try to predict the results for the following year to understand the trend and ensure that we manage to get our elder child into our preferred primary school without any hiccups.
Here’s a summary of the Primary 1 registration phases set by Ministry of Education (MOE) for our reference.
Phase 1: For a child whose sibling is currently studying in the school.
Phase 2A (1): For a child whose parent is an alumnus, or a committee member.
Phase 2A (2): For a child whose parent or sibling ever studied in the school, or whose parent is a staff of the school.
Phase 2B: For a child whose parent has volunteered 40 hours for the school, is a member of a church or clan linked to the school, or an active community leader.
Phase 2C and beyond: For a child who is eligible for Primary One in the following year and who has not yet registered.
Much as we want to equally consider all primary schools, there are still some that will show up in our preferred list of schools we hope our children will go to. And in view of the ‘competition’ from other parents who will go to great lengths to secure a spot for their child in their preferred school, such as by volunteering at the school from the time the child is born or staying within the required proximity to the school, we cannot help but be kiasu by planning very early to ensure that our child will stand a chance in getting to the school of our choice.
Depending on how we expect our children to grow up to be, we will look at the strengths of the different primary schools in Singapore and determine our preferred choice. Here are some of the many considerations we will take note of.
A majority of the parents will be most concerned about the academic results of the primary schools. They will look at the past PSLE scores of a particular school’s students as an indication of how good that school is. However, sometimes it may just happen that there were outstanding students in that cohort. Thus, it is not a very good gauge unless the primary school consistently has good PSLE results over a number of years.
Some parents determine their preferred primary school based on the reputation and branding of the school. Primary schools such as Nanyang Primary School, Raffles Primary School, Anglo-Chinese Junior School have earned a reputation and tradition of nurturing children who are well-trained in their social skills and self-confidence, thus will likely to gain a foothold in the working society in future.
Distance from the home to the primary school is an important factor that parents should take into consideration in choosing the school. The child not only gets to wake up later in the morning when the school is near his/her home, he/she can go home in between school session and his/her Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) to have meals and take a rest. If the school is too far, the travelling time not only will take up the time the child can use for his homework, the child will most probably be spending most of the time in the school bus or other transport.
To find schools in your neighbourhood (based on the address in your Identity Card), check the List of Primary Schools by Planning Area at the Ministry of Education (MOE) website. You can also measure the distance between your home and the schools here.
Religious or Clan Affiliation
Some parents prefer to let their children pursue their studies in a religion- or clan- affiliated school so that they can be nurtured in an environment with the same teachings as what the parents believe in. If the parents are already registered in the clan, the child will be able to enter the affiliated school under Phase 2B such as the Hokkien Huay Kuan’s 6 affiliated schools.
There are parents who look for a primary school which has an affiliated secondary school with an Integrated Program (IP) scheme. This will more or less ensure that the child can go straight from primary school to ‘A’ Levels, without the need to take the ‘O’ Levels. The list of secondary schools with IP scheme can be found in the MOE website.
Single or Mixed Gender
Parents also take into consideration if the students of a primary school are of a single or mixed gender. For example, parents with both son and daughter will have to find primary schools which have mixed gender so that the younger sibling of a different gender who has priority in Phase 1 can enter the same school as the older sibling. For parents with children of the same gender, they will not have to worry if the primary school has single or mixed gender.
Single or Dual Session
As a parent, we will prefer single morning sessions for all levels throughout the primary school so that the child has more time in the afternoon for their homework, CCA or any other enrichment programmes.
Though all schools are bilingual where English is the main mode of teaching, the child will need to learn a second language, i.e. Chinese, Malay or Tamil. If the child will be taking Chinese as a second language, the parent may consider enrolling him/her in a SAP (Special Assistance Plan) school which offers Higher Chinese from Primary One, and aim to promote the study of the Chinese language and culture in students from a very young age. Read more about SAP schools offering enhanced programmes here.
Parents may want their children to study in the same school as them when they were young. For these parents, they will need to enroll in the alumni programme of their primary school and register their children under Phase 2A (1). Usually these children have no problem getting into the school as long as their parents are ex-students of the school.
Different primary school has different specialties in terms of non-academic areas. Ideally, we prefer to register our children into the primary school with specialties that are in line with their interest so that they will look forward to the activities offered by the school and hopefully excel in the non-academic area.
Special Needs Support
Currently, all primary schools have at least one Allied Educator (Learning and Behavioural Support) who will support students with mild dyslexia, autism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They provide in-class support and small-group coaching so the child can fit in socially and academically. There are also some schools which are equipped with full handicapped facilities and welcome physically challenged students as well.
Sometimes, no matter how much considerations and preparations we have made, our children will still have difficulty getting into the ideal primary school we have in mind for them. There are a certain number of popular schools, such as Catholic High Primary School, Ai Tong Primary School and Nan Hua Primary School, where balloting is required even for parent volunteers staying within one kilometer from the school.
KiasuParents’ Views on Primary 1 Registration
Charmaine, a parent of four children, who bought a condominium within one kilometer of a popular primary school in the West shared with us that after failing to be accepted as a parent volunteer in the school and knowing that her chances are almost zero, she chose to enroll her twins – who will be in Primary One next year – in her ex-primary school which is further away from her home.