Five Things you Need to Know about Direct School Admission (DSA) for your School-Going Child
PSLE scores need not be the final determining factor for your child to enter a secondary school of his choice. Find out how the direct school admission or DSA exercise can help.
Besides the thought of the gruelling exams, the Direct School Admission-Secondary (DSA-Sec) programme may be on your mind if your child is sitting for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) this year.
DSA-Sec is an opportunity for Primary 6 students to be guaranteed a place in a secondary school prior to the release of the PSLE results. This exercise provides an opportunity for Primary 6 children to be selected for admission into a school of their choice based on talent and outstanding achievements in a particular area.
Here are five things you need to do to help your child manage the DSA process.
1. Ensure your child's talents match the choice secondary school's niche area
The aim of the DSA programme is to provide kids with an opportunity to demonstrate a more diverse range of achievements and talents in seeking admission to a secondary school, going beyond just the PSLE score.
Some secondary schools have a niche area, be it in academic achievements, sports or in other aspects like character development and leadership or music. You would need to scout for a school that offers DSA based on your child’s strengths or talents.
For example, if your child excels in badminton and has participated in zonal or national level badminton tournaments, then try for DSA(Sports) at schools like Saint Joseph’s Institution (SJI) or Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) Secondary.
If your child is exceptionally talented in drama, he may apply to Xinmin Secondary School or Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) (Barker), through the DSA programme.
2. Get records organised and ready for DSA application
The school of your choice would need you to support your DSA application with some evidence of your child's abilities. The supporting documents that you would need to submit for DSA to the school of choice would depend on the school and the type of DSA programme your child is applying for.
Generally, if your child is applying for DSA-Instructional Programme, or DSA(IP), which is based on your child’s exceptional academic achievements in a particular subject, then he would most likely be required to submit his Primary 4 and 5 End-of-Year examination results, as well as his results for the Primary 6 Mid-Year examinations.
In addition, he may need to submit documents showing participation in national competitions. For example, if your child has an aptitude for Mathematics and is applying for DSA (IP), he may need to produce records of his participation in the Maths Olympiad competitions.
Similarly, if your child is applying for DSA based on his strong leadership ability, then records of his holding key leadership positions like Head Prefect have to be included. Testimonials from the school and recommendation letters from his primary school teachers would also boost his chances.
If your child is not in Primary 6 yet, it would be a good idea to find a way to keep certificates and records of your child’s achievements in an organised manner, so that you can access it easily when it is time to apply for DSA. It would also be wise to ask his primary school teacher early in the PSLE year to help to write a letter of recommendation for your child as teachers would be very busy during the DSA application period, accommodating requests for letters from many parents!
What is the next step if your child is shortlisted after the first round of selection? Find out on the next page.
3. Prepare your child for selection process
If your child is shortlisted upon submission of the required documents, he would be asked to go to the school for further screening. This typically happens between 1 July to 31 August, although this could differ from school to school.
If your child is applying for DSA (Sports), he could be required to attend trials where he would be assessed on his skill in the chosen sport. For DSA (IP), your child may need to attend a General Ability Test (GAT) - only if he is not in the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) - to assess his intellectual potential and even attend an interview with the selection panel.
Some enrichment centres offer training for DSA interviews to boost children's confidence. You may consider sending your child to such centres if you think it is necessary for his preparation.
4. Discuss with your child if he decides to accept offer
If your child is successful in the DSA testing, he would receive notification that he is on the “Confirmed” or “Waiting List” of the school in October. It is then up to your child to indicate whether he would accep the offer.
If your child has offers from more than one school, though, he would have to think carefully and make a good decision. Your child would be issued a School Preference Form by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and he would have to indicate his DSA choices (up to three schools), in order of preference.
This form would usually be sent to your child in October after schools have decided on the students they would like to take in through the DSA exercise. Your child would be given notification of his final DSA-Sec school allocation, in November, together with his PSLE results.
What you would need to take note here is that once your child indicates acceptance of offer from the secondary school, and the school notifies him that he has been accepted, he cannot change his mind once the PSLE results are released. Correspondingly, the school too would accept your child even if his PSLE scores are below the school’s cut-off aggregate score.
5. Help your child handle rejection
After going through selection trials and multiple interviews, your child could be in a situation where he is not selected for DSA in any school. It is important for you, therefore, to prepare your child for this possibility.
You can tell him that such exposure to the process is beneficial for him, as he may pick up some skills like interview skills and learn to be resilient too. You can also tell him that even if he is not selected for DSA to his school of choice, he still has a chance to get accepted by working hard for his PSLE exams.
In addition, there are many other schools in Singapore that would be suitable for him and develop his potential.
The DSA application deadline this year varies from school to school, although most DSA applications end on 1 July 2015. If you have yet to apply for DSA for your Primary 6 child or if you are keen to find out more about DSA selection criteria for your younger child, scour through the websites of different schools and talk to students and parents of students from the schools of choice to find out more.
Would you encourage your child to apply for DSA? Share your thoughts with us here.