Choosing a primary school for your child starts way before the actual Primary One registration exercise. For many Singaporean parents – and some permanent residents and expatriate ones too — it is an extremely competitive experience with parents going to great lengths to score a spot in an elite or brand name school for their child. Lesser known or newer neighbourhood schools without SAP (special assistance plan) status or which do not have that long history of reputation for being sought-after are seen as “poorer cousins.” So the question is: is there really a difference between primary schools in Singapore or are all schools – at the heart of it – the same? And are the so called “elite” schools still worth to pursue?
Choosing a primary school is an extremely competitive experience for some parents. | Image source: iStock
The debate rages on, but the evidence of long registration queues for parents waiting to get into the school’s volunteer programme, or buying a property to be closer to their school of choice are reasons to believe that not all schools are equal.
Even for parents who really have no preferences for a particular school may prefer for their child to attend one that is closer to their home rather than a bus ride away, but proximity is no guarantee to placement.
What’s in a name?
Brand name schools such as Raffles Girls Primary, Nanyang Primary, and Anglo Chinese Junior School have long been associated with good academic results and quality education — and to a lesser extent, social standing for those among us who care. These schools have a long and illustrious history as well as many famous alumnus. These are all reasons why parents are keen to have their children walk through the same school corridors.
The It schools
Image source: iStock
Choosing a primary school with an elite tag and getting in is sometimes a do-or-die mission for some parents. They become parent volunteers, shift houses, and much more just to up their chances of getting their child into the elite school. Some may claim that elite schools have better facilities for students due to rich alumni backing their coffers.
However, this perception is slowly changing as the number of top-scoring PSLE students are coming from neighbourhood schools such as Rulang Primary and Greenridge Primary. With more upgrading and PRIME developments, some of these schools are also getting a facelift and better facilities, putting them on par with the elite schools.
Networks and connections
Then, there are parents who choose schools for strategic reasons; they believe that sending their children to a prestigious school will set them up for life. This is due to the notion that the tagged elite schools are a great place to set up friendships i.e. network as most of the students come from connected backgrounds (read: rich, political, or fashionable). The relationship built there would be useful for their child later in life.
Of course, not all parents share the same mindset.
Some value the opportunity for their children to make friends with peers who come from different ethnic and social backgrounds and learn about culture and traditions different from their own.
What to consider?
Find out what are some things to consider when choosing a primary school. | Image source: iStock
Whichever school you might be leaning towards, here are some things for you to consider before choosing a primary school for your child.
- What are your goals for your child’s primary school education?
- How do you define a good quality education – Is it just based on academic results or do you also consider character development as important?
- What are your family values and religion?
- What is your child’s learning style and temperament? Do they have a particular skill or talent that they would like to hone?
- Is distance important?
To answer the question whether to pursue a school that is tagged as an elite one, it is generally depends on you as a parent. Since, neighbourhood schools are also achieving and offering excellent education likewise.
We hope these tips help you in choosing a primary school for your child.