With so many different primary schools in Singapore, it’s pretty normal for parents to be confused when it comes to choosing an ideal school for their young ones. But, even with more primary schools trying to stand-out from the rest, here are the ten important factors you should be looking at when deciding on a school for your little ones.
Over the years, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of neighbourhood schools with students who have produced top Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results. That being said, it is worthwhile for parents to take a look at the top-scoring neighbourhood schools other than the schools known for their academic-strength and capabilities. Heartland schools which did well in PSLE in recent years include Rulang Primary School whose top student scored an aggregate of 283 in 2011 and Yishun Primary School – with the top student clinching a score of 275.
- Mother Tongue Languages
While most primary schools offer the three main languages – Chinese, Malay and Tamil which cater to the majority, students who fall under the Non-Indian Tamil Languages programme often need to travel to another school for their second language classes. But, for languages like Hindi and Punjabi, there are schools like Cedar Primary School and Tanjong Katong Primary School which offer the lessons in-house under the In School Parallel Programme. So be sure to check out what Mother Tongue languages the schools provide as it could save you and your child a whole lot of hassle.
The distance of the school is also crucial as most parents would rather send their child to a school that is relatively near their home to save time on the travelling as well as to save on school transport cost. One such parent is Elisa Teo who chose to send her son to a school that is just two bus stops away from their home. “Distance was an important factor me because I did not want my son to spend so much time travelling to and fro every day.”However, there are also some parents such as Christine Won who wouldn’t mind the distance as they strongly feel about the school. “I chose to enroll my children in an elite primary school. Even though the school was far away, I felt it was worth it because it is what can give them a head-start in life.”
- Student Care Centres
Student Care centres have been on the rise lately, with the Ministry of Education aiming to bring the number up to 70 by 2014. Run by trained professionals, these school-based student care centres go above and beyond to provide more than just a holistic before and after-school care. “We have activities that would not only strengthen physical strength but also those that would aid them intellectually. We also play team-building games which would encourage students to work together,” shares Mastura, a student care teacher at a primary school.
Parents who prefer to kill two birds with one stone should consider primary schools that are affiliated to secondary schools as they tend to have a higher guarantee for your child’s admission into the next education phase. In fact, popular schools such as the CHIJ primary schools Anglo Chinese School even have affiliations right up till junior college.Another form of affiliation which you could possibly consider falls under the Phase 1 and Phase 2A2 of the primary school registration process. Phase 1 being a sibling currently studying in your preferred choice of school while Phase 2A2 is open to parents who were ex-students of that school.
- Co-Curricular Activities
Edgefield Primary School, for instance, is the only primary school in Singapore to offer triathlon as a Co-Curricular Activity (CCA). Additionally, Hougang Primary School not only has a rock-climbing CCA and a rock wall in the school premises – the school even initiated the first primary level climbing competition better known as the National Inter-Primary School Climbing Championship. If your child has a particular interest in sports, spend some time browsing through the different schools which offer the respective CCA as that’ll drive your child’s motivation and excel to do well in school, knowing that he can develop his interest and talent in the field he enjoys.
To date, there are a total of 190 schools that offer niches of excellence. The range of niches varies from sports, uniformed groups, aesthetics to information and communications technology (ICT), character education, and environment education.
Creating a buzz since its inception in 2007, more and more FutureSchools are looking into different ways to engage learning through the use of ICT. For example, Nan Chiau Primary School promotes its Seamless Learning experience where students make use of a smartphone to enhance their exploring and learning while Catholic High School (Primary) and Fengshan Primary School focuses on sports like volleyball and netball respectively.
- Special Needs
Apart from having at least one Allied Educator (Learning and Behavioural Support) [AEDs(LBS)] in all primary schools to guide and aid children with mild special educational needs, the Ministry of Education has also stepped up initiatives to incorporate a school-based dyslexia remediation in 20 primary schools islandwide to provide more support to this group of students. But, besides dyslexia, schools such as Greenridge Primary School also offer special needs to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
- School Facilities
Facilities are also something you should consider as it will not only enhance your child’s learning but may also be ideal should your little one have a strong interest or talent in music or sports. For example, it is impressive to know that the facilities in Frontier Primary School includes an indoor sports hall, synthetic turf field, music studio, dance studio, band room as well as a school library with a mini-stage for drama performances. It has been reported that the school is also working on an eco-garden where learning can take place outside the classroom – definitely suitable if your child find it hard to concentrate in class all day.
- Canteen Food
Back in the day, canteen food only always consisted of our traditional and local dishes. But with passing time, more canteens today are offering a variety of cuisines like Japanese and Western dishes. What’s more, there has also been an increase of primary schools that have jumped on the bandwagon to promote lifelong healthy eating from an early age. An example is Wellington Primary School who offers healthier food served in bento sets to its students. “Becoming more aware of healthier food options also allows them [students] to bring the message of healthy eating back home to their parents,” shared Evelyn Lee, the Vice Principal of the school in an interview.
[EDIT] The P1 Registration 2018 will run according to the different phases from 29 June to 28 August 2017. For more details, please click here.