4 big worries when choosing a secondary school
Find out how to help your child choose the right secondary school after the release of the PSLE results.
The 2014 Primary School Leaving Examination (P.S.L.E) results will be released between 21 and 24 November 2014. Parents and students will then have seven days to apply to their secondary school of choice.
With MOE’s direction of “Every School a Good School”, how do we help our child choose a secondary school?
Should my child attend a “good” school?
How about my alma mater (especially if it is a popular school)?
Are CCA interests really important?
What does my child know at 12?
Here are four of the most common considerations and our recommended approach to them.
Choosing a school with higher cut off points
At the top of the list for parents would be how much to sacrifice or compromise to get their child into the “best” school with a higher cut off point?
The assumption is that a school with a higher cut off point will produce better academic results. That assumption is not always true. If students are overstretched beyond their capability and capacity, they might not perform to the best of their abilities.
The key is “Suitability”. When assessing if a school is suitable for your child, it also means that you are required to know your child well.
Some children enjoy being a big fish in a small pond. Generally they are motivated when they are ahead of their peers and their confidence drives them to want to maintain that lead.
A small fish in a big pond. Some children get complacent when they are the top achievers of their community. They are like the hare, which decides to take a nap while waiting for the tortoise to catch up. If you notice this trait in your child, it may be wiser to choose a school which has a higher cut off point so that he or she will be constantly challenged.
More tips on choosing a secondary school for your child on the next page.
Choosing a school that is near to you
Distance is always a concern. Ideally there would be a suitable school nearby you – but with 162 schools spread across the island, the temptation of a slightly further, “more suitable” school, is always there.
Here are some points to ponder about. How much further are the schools in consideration? Is it in the direction of peak traffic in the morning? Does the MRT reach the schools, or only buses?
Excessive travelling is not recommended as it can be tiring and time wasting. Time is a precious commodity. It can be better spent resting at home, doing their homework, or even playing after they have done their homework. These 3 options are definitely more constructive than travelling.
Choosing a school with a Co-curricular Activity (CCA) of your child’s interest
Ideally, our children can enjoy both the academic and non-academic programmes in school. We would want our children to join a CCA that they are interested in and enjoy.
But the truth is that each school has their own CCA allocation policy. While your child can express their interest in a particular CCA, it does not guarantee that he or she will be assigned to that CCA. The differences in policies is due to a variety of reasons such as funding, number of CCAs and number of students in that cohort and individual school policies.
It might be devastating to a child if he or she choses a school because of a particular CCA, but is not allocated that CCA in the end.
Instead, go through a number of CCAs with your child and help them appreciate the attributes that each CCA helps to hone. It will be good to cover all categories: Sports, Uniform Groups, Clubs & Societies and Arts & Aesthetics.
In doing so, while your child has a preference for a particular CCA, he or she also learns to appreciate the other CCAs. Should they not get their choice CCA, they will still be appreciative of the CCA they are allocated to.
You might find the following quote useful to help them learn.
“There’s no learning in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the learning zone.”
Choosing a school based on its mission, vision and philosophy
Parents sometimes look up a school’s mission, vision and philosophy (MVP) to see if they are aligned with their own personal philosophy. Parents can get a better idea on how the school is achieving it by looking at recent programs held by the school.
For example, Punggol Secondary School’s mission is “to provide pupils with a value-added education and opportunities to acquire knowledge, skills and values to deal confidently with future challenges.”
To help the students “deal confidently with future challenges”, Project Resilience was held in March for the graduating students. It involves a 26 km walk, starting from Changi Coastal Road and ending back at Punggol Secondary School.
You can tell how much impact this programme had on the students through their reflections after the project.
Of course these programmes are scaled down for the lower secondary students, but parents do get insights on how the school is trying to achieve their MVP with its students.
What should I do?
It is never an easy task when it comes to choices, especially one as important as your child’s education. At the end of the day, do not forget that parents also plays an equally important role in their child’s education journey. Regardless of the school, parents need to spend time being involved such as attending the school events, their child’s competition, communicating with their subject teachers, and attending teacher-parents meeting,
After all, we are our children’s first teacher.
What are your biggest worries when it comes to choosing a secondary school for your child? Share with us be leaving a comment below – and check out EduMatter’s Secondary School Directory for the latest cut off points and other information!
Article written by the EduMatters team.