How To Pick A Primary School For Your Kid?


With half the year gone in the blink of an eye, 2020 does not seem too far away. Soon, you will be waving to your child at their new primary school gate as they reluctantly proceed inside. As Primary 1 registration for the 2020 academic year starts July 3 (ending on October 31), have you started pondering over which school to enrol your child in? Well, fret not! Here are some handy tips to make the process easier.

For many parents, the first step would be to furiously type “Top 50 Primary Schools in Singapore” into Google and picking one from the lot. But this futile exercise does not reap beneficial results as our Ministry of Education does not rank primary schools.  

Instead of rapping on Google’s door, it may be more worthwhile to inquire about the school’s philosophy, mission and vision. Ask if they meet your expectations as a parent. Try and get your hands on the school’s worksheets to see if the teachers promote creativity and independent thinking in children.

Reaching out to the parent support group would help to provide an in-depth understanding on the school’s environment, programmes and subject areas.

Big fish, little pond effect

It is common knowledge that parents always aim to enrol their children in popular and high-performing schools with many accolades to their name, with the assumption that their child will perform well in these schools. 

Although seeking out these schools is done with the child’s best interest in mind, studies have proved that children may achieve better academically in less popular schools. This is known as the “Big Fish, Little Pond Effect”.

Instead of looking for esteemed, “top-ranking” primary schools, parents should shift their gaze towards schools that aspires to instil confidence in their young students’ academic capacity. These environments foster confidence and competence in children. 

Thus, it is in these schools that children are prone to achieve more, learn to aim high and be determined to accomplish their goals.

Location is crucial

Do not disregard location in favour of the school’s standing. Stick to schools that are nearby. It is vital to understand that spending hours on the bus ride to and fro from school would drain the child of his energy. Research has also shown that sleep deprivation would negatively impact the child’s performance academically.

Cut down that list to 3 schools

Thoroughly inquire about several schools in your neighbourhood before striking off school names in that list. Shortlist your top three contenders before going into the details of the schools.

Now, apart from scrutinising the schools’ programmes and CCAs, analyse the Primary 1 places offered in the previous years and the number taken up at each phase.

Usually, parents would make a beeline for the popular school where they would have to ballot for places. In all honesty, this would be a waste of time and energy, unless it is the only school situated a stone’s throw away (within a kilometre) from your house.

Study the previous years’ balloting process and their outcomes before taking the chance. Each phase would last two to three days, after which the schools will disseminate information on the number of registrants and how many live nearby.

If places fill up quickly and your chances seem slim, you still have ample time to pull out your registration from the school and try your luck at your second choice. You may have a better chance at securing a place for your child in your second choice.

The third option would be a good back-up in any case that your second option does not work out. At the end of the day, it is important that you aim for a school where you stand a “good chance” at securing a seat for your child.