Choosing A Secondary School In Singapore: 5 Key Factors To Consider

Choosing A Secondary School In Singapore: 5 Key Factors To Consider

It is worth discussing with your child and considering these 5 important factors before choosing a secondary school in Singapore...

When it comes to choosing a secondary school in Singapore, many of us are clueless beyond rankings and PSLE cut-off points. 

Our children are teenagers by the time they enter secondary school. Time spent in secondary school is thus going to play a huge part in shaping their personality and character, and in influencing their life choices.

Many secondary schools have unique programmes that aim to maximise the potential of the child. It might be worth discussing with your child and considering these 5 important factors too, before the Secondary One (S1) Posting Exercise.

Special Programmes

Some secondary schools offer special programmes/schemes like Music Elective Programme, Art Elective Programme, Applied Subjects.

If your child is interested in any such programmes, it is better to include schools that offer these programmes in your application.

For the Art Elective Program (AEP):

To qualify for the AEP at secondary school level, students must first meet the entry requirement of the Express course in the selected school.

Upon admission to the school, he or she must apply for the programme at the school and must pass an internal AEP selection exercise set by the school.

AEP is offered only at the following secondary schools:

  • Bukit Panjang Govt. High School 
  • CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh)
  • Hwa Chong Institution
  • National Junior College
  • Nanyang Girls’ High School
  • Victoria School
  • Zhonghua Secondary School

For the Music Elective Program:

The Music Elective Programme (MEP) provides opportunities for musically-inclined students to pursue a deeper and more comprehensive study in the subject. 

To qualify for the MEP at the secondary level, students must first meet the entry requirement of the Express course in the selected school.

They should then apply for the programme upon admission to the school. Applicants should have attained the following minimum qualifications:

  • EITHER a pass in Grade Three Practical and Theory or Practical Musicianship examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) or the equivalent standard from other examination boards. (Application must be accompanied by certified copies of music certificates or mark sheets.)
  • OR, in the absence of the qualifications stated above,
  • A pass in both the written Selection Test and practical audition on an instrument (e.g. piano, rebab, erhu, sitar) or voice conducted by the MEP school.

MEP is offered only at the following secondary schools:

  • Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
  • Catholic High School
  • CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School
  • Crescent Girls’ School
  • Dunman High School
  • Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary)
  • Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary)
  • Raffles Institution
  • Tanjong Katong Girls’ School
  • Temasek Junior College

CCAs offered

choosing a secondary school

CCAs are an extremely important part of your child’s school life. Through CCAs, students discover their interests and talents, and develop values and skills that will prepare them for a rapidly changing world.

CCA also promotes friendships among students from diverse backgrounds as they learn, play and grow together. 

Every secondary school student takes part in one CCA taken from the following options:

  • Clubs and Societies
  • Physical Sports
  • Uniformed Groups
  • Visual and Performing Arts Group

Schools generally have Open House days, or CCA Showcases or fairs. Students, along with their parents and siblings, can get a glimpse of what life is like in each CCA group. Seniors and teachers-in-charge will also be around to address any questions you have.

The range of CCAs on offer varies from school to school. To see list of CCAs offered by each school, visit MOE's School Information Service.

Special Assistance Plan (SAP) Schools

SAP schools nurture students to be proficient in both English Language (EL) and Chinese Language (CL), and to have a good understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture.

Students who have taken both EL and CL at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) may opt for SAP schools during the S1 Posting Exercise.

Students posted to SAP secondary schools should take up Higher Chinese Language (HCL) (or CL, if available) so that they can participate meaningfully in SAP school programmes.

These are the SAP secondary schools in Singapore:

  • Anglican High School
  • Catholic High School
  • CHIJ Saint Nicholas Girls' School
  • Chung Cheng High School (Main)
  • Dunman High School
  • Hwa Chong Institution
  • Maris Stella High School
  • Nan Chiau High School
  • Nan Hua High School
  • Nanyang Girls' High School
  • River Valley High School

Special Needs

Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support) [AEDs(LBS)]are mainstream primary or secondary school teachers with a Certificate level training in Special Needs (SEN).

These teachers support students with SEN, such as students with dyslexia, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They do so by working closely with the school, the parents and the student to ensure that enough support is provided to meet the learning and behavioural needs of students with SEN.

To date, 92 secondary schools have been resourced with one AED(LBS) each to support students with mild special educational needs.

Click here for the list of schools with such facilities.

Home-school distance

Distance between school and home might seem like the least important factor of the lot. But recent studies by the Duke-NUS Medical School reveal that 80 % of Singapore teenagers from top schools DON’T get enough sleep. This might partly be due to the hours spent commuting to and from school.

Apparently, most Singapore teens surveyed said that they had less than 6 hours of sleep a night, a far cry from the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep. 

Sleep plays a major role in memory consolidation and learning", says Professor Michael Chee, director of the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke-NUS

Some schools have understood the gravity of the situation, and are now starting late. Students at Nanyang Girls High (NYGH) have been starting school at 8.15 am – a good 45 minutes later than most secondary schools!

Parents may want to consider schools near their home so that it will be more convenient for their child to travel to and from school.


Top Secondary Schools In Singapore 2020 Based On PSLE COP 2019!

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