As they say, no one plans to fail, but many fail to plan. The same goes for choosing your secondary school! Deciding how to choose the right secondary school for your child is already a tough step. But to actually key in your top 6 choices to maximise your chances of getting into one of your desired schools, is an art in itself.
It doesn’t help that the PSLE AL scoring system is still quite new to us all. This also affects how students’ school choices will be prioritised, making your decision even more crucial.
So, what exactly do you need to know, and what’s the best way to approach the Sec 1 posting exercise?
How are the school choices prioritised?
With the new AL scoring system, there has been a lot of concerns over students getting the same score – who will be prioritised? In fact, the AL score is not the only deciding factor. There are a few other variables that come into play, with a random ballot only cast when all these factors are equal (the probability of which is lower than you imagine).
- Citizenship: Singaporean citizens get top priority, followed by Permanent Residents, then international students. For example, if a Singaporean citizen and PR with the same PSLE AL score are vying for the last spot in a school – and both listed it as their 1st choice, the Singaporean will get the place.
- Order of school choices: All other things equal (same AL score, both citizens), the student who listed a school as their 1st choice will get a higher priority than a student who placed it at the 2nd or lower position choice.
- Computerised balloting: Only when the AL scores, citizenship, and school choice order is exactly the same, then will ballots be cast to determine the student who will take the place in the school.
Advice on school selection
By the time your child receives their PSLE result, the only thing you can actually control is the order of the schools you and your child choose. So, THE ORDER IS SUPER IMPORTANT.
Begin with a list of schools you are interested in. Generally, you will want to sort them into 2 types:
- Ambitious options (e.g. your child’s score is lower or borderline at the school’s lower indicative AL score, and the school is highly popular)
- Safety net (e.g. your child’s score is comfortably above the school’s indicative AL score)
- Choose schools with a range of cut-off points – some better than your score, some around your score, and some worse than your score. That way, you cast a wide net and are highly likely to get one of your choices.
- If there is a school you really want to get into, put it at a higher preference to boost your chances of getting in. But, this is more risky if your PSLE score is below the indicative AL score – so counter this with more safety net schools (less popular schools or schools with lower cut-off points than your PSLE score).
- Fill up all 6 choices! Having your 6th choice is still better than being allocated into a random school you had no say in choosing. (In case you’re wondering, students who don’t get any of their choices will be drafted into the nearest school that still has vacancies.)
- Come from a primary school with an affiliated secondary school? If you meet the affiliate minimum requirement and wish to be posted to the affiliated school, you have to list that school as your top choice to enjoy priority.
How to narrow down your choice of schools?
Maybe you’re wondering, how do you even begin shortlisting all the secondary schools into just 6 choices?
A lot of it is really up to personal preference, but here are some things that are very useful to consider:
- Academic performance: Schools with better grades and track record are believed to have better quality education, and are for the students who are aiming to get into JC and university later on. But take time to consider the notion of ‘small fish in a big pond’ or ‘big fish in a small pond’ – which does your child prefer? Which will they thrive better in? Additionally, if your child is eligible for the Integrated Programme, take some time to understand what you can expect in the Integrated Programme, as well as the differences between IP and O Level curriculum.
- Niche programmes: Let’s say your child is interested in something like art, music, computing, or electronics. These are niche subjects that not all schools offer, so make sure to do your research and find a few schools with the programme your child is interested in.
- School culture: This one’s a tough one to research, but you can try getting information from word of mouth, or by speaking with their students and teachers at their open house. Some things affecting culture are the cohort size, class size, the general attitude of teachers, competitiveness, and even the physical environment of the school.
- CCAs: Similar to the point on niche programmes, if there are certain types of CCAs your child is interested in, try to factor this in when narrowing down the school choices. This may be even more important for the child if they already have experience in a certain CCA, and they want to continue honing their skills in it.
- Location: A very practical consideration, but one not to be forgotten! Besides purely location, it’s a good idea to think about the ease of commute and travelling time. Some schools may be geographically near home, but inconvenient to travel to (e.g. long walking distances), while other schools may be a bit further, but are easy to get to due to proximity to the MRT station or bus stops.
With all that said, we wish all P6s and their parents the best when choosing your secondary schools! If you’re already feeling the need for headstart tuition classes or simply wish to reserve a tuition seat for your Sec 1 child in 2023, we’re happy to share that we are open for registration. Enquire today about our Secondary Combined Science Tuition classes and more!