Tis the season of Primary 1 registration. The time when parents with children ready for Primary school in the following year are feeling the heat. Concerned parents will often debate over which are the best and most popular primary schools.
Singaporean parents are probably the only people we know who take a few months or even an entire year off work to coach their children during the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) year.
Getting one’s child into the best local primary schools is not as simple as queuing overnight at an Apple store’s launch of a new product or booking of a private residential unit at a developer’s sales before more taxes kicks in – this is where the first to get in through the door does not necessarily translate to a place in the school!
These days, getting a place in popular primary schools is like striking the lottery. Literally. We can see parents and their child either jump with joy or break down in tears after a balloting exercise.
Although the Ministry of Education (MOE) reserves 40 places in each school for children who do not have any relations to the school, these precious places are insignificant as compared to the number of children applying to be enrolled.
One very important factor to bear in mind in order to get ahead in this race is where you live.
Does where I live really matter?
Yes, it does! The only time when it does not matter is when your older child is already in the school to qualify for Phase 1 of the registration and we are sure the very reason a parent will be reading this article means likely, you are a first timer parent!
From Phase 2A(1) onwards, when a school is “oversubscribed” i.e. there are more applicants than places in the school, balloting will be prioritise by citizenship followed by home-school distance.
Children who are Singapore Citizens (SC) will be given priority over Singapore Permanent Residents (PR). SCs who live within 1 kilometre (km) of the school will be given priority, followed by those who live between 1 km and 2 km and lastly, for those who live more than 2 km from the school. Hence, for the highly sought-after schools, it is best to stay within 1km to give your child higher chance of admittance.
Should there be remaining places after SC allocation and balloting,the school will then apply the same home school distance priority to PRs and lastly, for the foreigners. Within each phase, whenever subscription outstrip vacancies, balloting will be conducted. For further clarification, check out MOE’s website where they lay out different balloting scenarios.
Parents who have just bought a completed property pending sale completion, or a property under construction and within the 1 to 2 km radius of the school can apply to register their child using the new address. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.
Tenants who live within 1 to 2 km of the school can also use the address to register their child. If you plan to use a rented property address, it is important to inform the landlord that you intend to use the address for the registration. You would not want a situation where the landlord also uses the same address to apply for places at a school as you.
How do I know the distance from my property to the school?
MOE’s website states that parents can check the distance between their home and the school from the Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) OneMap School Query Service.
The instructions on how to use OneMap are as follows:
Click on the “Find Schools near a building” OR “Find Buildings near a school”
Enter the residential address in the “Find Location” box and click “Go” OR enter the name of the school.
Click on the desired building on the map. OneMap will generate a report with a list of schools which are within 1 km and between 1 to 2 km from the selected building or show buildings within a 1 km radius (red) or 2 km radius (blue) of the school.
Click on the printer icon in the “SchoolQuery” dialog box, the report will be displayed.
You can also email or call the SLA helpdesk at 6848 5266. If you are still in doubt, you can check with the school directly on the distance between your home and the school when the time for registration comes around.
Which are some of the most popular primary schools?
The popular primary schools can be divided into three categories: girls’ schools, boys’ schools and co-ed schools. While not exhaustive, this table sets out the more popular primary schools:
Tips for picking the property near the school(s)
Many parents like to buy or rent condos in the area between Stevens Road and Balmoral Road (e.g at Ewe Boon Road, Keng Chin Road, Robin Road etc) as this area is within 1 km of both Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) and Singapore Chinese Girls’ Primary School. This way, they qualify for the “within 1 km” rule both for their son(s) and their daughter(s).
Another way is to pick a co-ed school so your daughter(s) and son(s) can go to the same school – this sure makes picking them up after school a lot simpler and requiring less logistics. Examples will be areas like Dover Rise, Marine Parade Road, Shunfu or Toh Tuck.
If all your children are boys and entry to a prestigious boys school is of paramount importance, you might want to consider Newton Road area where certain buildings qualify for the “within 1 km” rule for three boys’ school – ACS Junior, ACS Primary and St Joseph’s Institution Junior.
If you have an all girls’ brood, areas like Bukit Timah Road, Greenwood, Balmoral Road or the Thomson landed home estate for your princesses to get into the top girls’ schools.