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Singapore primary school selection guide

Ultimate Guide to Selecting and Registering for a Primary School in Singapore (2024)

Last Updated on January 3, 2024 by Parentology

Selecting and Registering for a Primary School in Singapore (2024)

As your little ones grow, the time will soon come when you’ll have to make a decision about which primary school they’ll attend in Singapore. Singapore’s primary schools are renowned for their high teaching standards, state-of-the-art facilities, and diverse learning programs that cater to students’ interests in areas like arts, sports, or sciences.

Even though these schools offer excellent education, registering for a primary school in Singapore can sometimes feel like a high-stakes competition. Parents often resort to extreme measures, such as relocating or volunteering extensively, to improve their child’s chances of admission to their preferred primary school.


Making an Informed Choice for a Primary School in Singapore

Fortunately, there are practical ways to make an informed choice when selecting a primary school for your child. Here are some considerations to guide your decision-making.

Location Matters

One factor to consider is the proximity of your desired primary school. A school close to your home not only reduces transportation costs and travel time but also allows your child more time and energy for leisure activities. You’ll benefit as well, as a shorter commute can reduce stress and the likelihood of getting caught in traffic en route to work. When your child becomes old enough to go to school independently, you’ll have peace of mind knowing they don’t have to travel a great distance alone.

Being close to your preferred school can also offer a slight advantage during the admission process, especially if you reside within 1-2 km of the school. You can learn more about schools near your home here.


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Affiliation with a Secondary School

Selecting a primary school that is affiliated with a secondary school can help ease some of the pressure associated with the Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE).

In general, students are more likely to continue their education at an affiliated secondary school if they meet the school’s minimum PSLE results and list the school as their top choice. However, it’s important to note that priority status doesn’t guarantee admission. Ultimately, admission to a secondary school is determined by your child’s PSLE score and the availability of spots.

If the primary schools near your home don’t have secondary school affiliations, there’s no need to fret. Starting in 2022, secondary schools have reserved 20% of vacancies in each course for students without affiliation priority. So, even if your child’s primary school lacks affiliations, they still have a shot at attending their chosen secondary school.


Single-Sex or Coeducational Schools

Weighing the Pros and Cons When choosing a primary school in Singapore, parents may be faced with the choice between single-sex or coeducational institutions. Both options are readily available in Singapore, and the best choice may depend on your family’s unique circumstances.

If you have multiple children of the same or different genders, your preference for one type of school over the other could be influenced by several factors. For instance, children who have siblings already enrolled in the school are given priority and guaranteed placement when entering Primary One. Sending your children to the same school simplifies logistics and offers emotional support, especially on the first day, which can be overwhelming for a younger sibling.

Inclusive Schools

Fostering a Supportive Environment Approximately 80% of students with special needs in Singapore attend mainstream schools. For those with moderate to severe needs, Special Education (SPED) schools offer tailored curricula and comprehensive support. Even if your child doesn’t have special needs, it’s worth considering schools that provide facilities and programs for students with diverse learning requirements.

A school that promotes inclusion demonstrates its commitment to accommodating all children and integrating them into mainstream society. Such an environment can foster a positive learning experience for your child, and interacting with differently-abled peers teaches valuable life skills like empathy and understanding.


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Religious Affiliation

Aligning with Family Values Some families prioritize schools with religious affiliations, where values-based education is emphasized. In these schools, students may participate in religious services or songs, and those of the affiliated religion might have the opportunity to attend religious classes or services. However, these activities are optional, and non-religious families can choose to opt out.

If you’re considering a religious school, it’s essential to understand the extent of religious exposure and ensure you’re comfortable with it.


Single-Session vs. Double-Session Schools

Scheduling Considerations Some primary schools in Singapore offer “double sessions,” though the government is transitioning all primary schools to “single sessions.” It’s important to consider the type of session a school offers, as your child’s caregiver must be available before and after school.

Single-session schools begin classes in the morning and end by early afternoon, allowing students to engage in a broad range of academic and extracurricular activities within the campus.

Double-session schools, on the other hand, accommodate two separate student groups at different times of the day. Morning session classes run from early morning to early afternoon, while afternoon-session classes commence after lunch and conclude in the evening.


Nurturing Your Child’s Talents and Interests

Each school has unique areas of focus for its co-curricular activities (CCAs), ranging from sports and performing arts to sciences. Selecting a school that offers opportunities for your child to excel in their areas of interest can contribute to a well-rounded education and further develop their inherent talents and skills.

To identify schools that align with your child’s interests, look for institutions with excellence awards in relevant fields. However, be aware that some CCAs may entail additional expenses (though often subsidized) for training, equipment, costumes, instruments, or school trips.

The Ministry of Education has introduced several changes to the P1 registration framework to assist children who do not have existing connections to schools in securing a spot in a school close to their homes. This will help them pursue other interests and increase convenience for their families. Here are the key changes to take note of:

  • Increase in the number of reserved places for Phase 2C: Reserved places have increased from 20 to 40 in Phase 2C. Phase 2B continues to have 20 reserved places, bringing the total to 60. After Phase 2A, one-third of the remaining places will be allocated to Phase 2B, and two-thirds to Phase 2C.
  • Single Phase 2A: Phases 2A(1) and 2A(2) have been merged to form Phase 2A, making it easier for those who previously fell under Phase 2A(2) to get a spot even with the increased reserved places in Phase 2C, which could have resulted in vacancies filling up during Phase 2A(1).
  • Updated method of calculating Home-School Distance (HSD): When the number of registrants exceeds the number of vacancies in a school, computerized balloting will be conducted, with priority given based on the child’s citizenship and HSD category. HSD will now be calculated using the School Land Boundary (SLB), measuring the shortest distance from a point on the boundary around the school (instead of a single point as previously used) to the child’s registered address.

For primary school registration in 2023, you will need to prepare the following:

  • Child’s full name
  • Child’s birth certificate number
  • Child’s date of birth
  • Address for registration
  • Email address
  • Contact details
  • Child’s immunization records (to be emailed to the school when requested or before the reporting day)
  • Additional documents may be required for phases 2A and 2B.

Registration will be conducted online to minimize public contact and ensure safe distancing. You will need a Singpass with 2-Factor Authentication to register. For Phase 1 registrations, submit an online form with registration details, and the school where your older child is studying will provide information on how to register a younger sibling. For all other phases, complete the registration online through an online form (Phases 2A and 2B) or the Primary One Internet System (P1-IS) (Phases 2C or 2C Supplementary).

You will receive an SMS about your primary school application results at noon on the phase’s results announcement day. Best of luck!

While primary school is free for Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents pay $255/month in 2023, extracurricular activities, enrichment classes, tuition, and other out-of-classroom educational experiences have costs that need to be paid out-of-pocket. It is wise to start preparing for these expenses with a savings plan. Also, consider preparing for potential financial costs arising from injuries sustained during extracurricular activities, especially for children participating in sports. Personal accident insurance can cover medical expenses for injuries resulting from accidents.

As your child begins this new chapter, find out more about how you can support their education.

Choosing the right primary school for your child in Singapore is a significant decision that can have long-lasting implications. As you navigate the selection and registration process, remember that finding a school that aligns with your family’s values and supports your child’s unique interests and needs is the ultimate goal. Don’t be overwhelmed by the array of choices; take the time to research and prioritize what matters most to your family. With careful consideration and planning, you’ll find a school that offers the right balance of academic rigor, extracurricular opportunities, and a nurturing environment to set your child on a path to lifelong success and happiness.

Ensuring your child’s education is one of the most important investments you can make in their future. Beyond just the school registration process, it’s essential to plan for the financial aspects of your child’s educational journey. Our financial advisors are experts in helping parents plan for education expenses, including extracurricular activities, enrichment classes, tuition, and other out-of-classroom educational experiences.

Get in touch with us today to create a customized financial plan that allows you to provide the best educational opportunities for your child while safeguarding your family’s financial stability. Secure your child’s future by taking the right financial steps today!

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