How to Choose a Secondary School After PSLE
From preparing for exams at the beginning of the year to knowing your child’s PSLE T-score aggregate during the result release day, the emotions experienced by parent and child is akin to those while taking a roller coaster ride. There are highs and lows during the journey.
No matter how your child’s results turn up to be, as long as he is eligible for secondary school, you and your child will have to plan for the next phase of education after PSLE – Choosing a secondary school under the Secondary 1 (S1) Posting Exercise.
If your child has been successfully allocated a secondary school place through DSA, he can only participate in the S1 Posting Exercise if he is eligible to opt for Third Language and/or Course Option. For example, Exp/N(A) or N(A)/N(T).
As mentioned in one of our earlier articles, What is PSLE T-Score and How it Affects Your Child, the priority to gain admission into the school of one’s choice is based on the PSLE T-Score aggregate.
The higher the T-score of your child, the higher the chance of your child to be successfully posted into the school of his/her choice.
However, note that this is going to change when the new PSLE scoring system kicks in by 2021. Read the article New PSLE Scoring System – Achievement Levels for more details.
Basically, your child will be posted to a secondary school based on three criteria: his PSLE results, his choice of schools and the vacancies available in the schools.
Do make good use of the 7 calendar days starting from the release of PSLE results to shortlist the 6 secondary schools in preferential order.
To start with, here are some useful tips to kickstart the process of shortlisting the ideal secondary schools for your child.
Tip 1 – Always Discuss with Your Child
Do not make decisions on your own without discussing with your child. Ultimately, your child is the one who will be studying in the new school, not you.
Initially, many students will select schools that their good friends have shortlisted too. You can let your child voice out the schools he or she is interested in first and then offer advice from a parent’s perspective.
The key here is to discuss and give advice along the way. When your child is given respect, some autonomy and advice, he or she can make wiser and willing choices that are more aligned with yours.
Tip 2 – Know Your Child’s Personality, Learning Style, Strengths and Interests
Different schools offer their own unique programmes which maximise the potential of different individuals.
Do look at the schools holistically, based on the environment, programmes offered, niche CCA, culture, style of learning and ethos to decide if they suit your child’s personality, learning style, strengths and interests.
For example, SAP schools have a rich Chinese culture while schools like ACS do not.
If your child comes from a dominantly Chinese-speaking background or is more comfortable with Chinese culture for example, do consider if he can adapt well to a particular school’s culture.
Tip 3 – Know the PSLE Aggregate Ranges of Schools for the Previous Year
Out of the 6 choices, it is important to select the majority of the schools with aggregate ranges, stated for the previous year, within which your child’s T-score aggregate falls in. Be realistic!
This is especially true for the first or second choice. Do not waste any precious opportunity by prioritizing schools with aggregate ranges that are much higher than your child’s T-score.
The aggregate range serves as an approximate guide of how high your child’s chances are in getting into the school.
It also helps your child to select a school whereby the students admitted have around the same academic standard as your child.
In this way, your child will be able to fit into the school academically.
For cases in which the child’s PSLE T-score is only a few points outside the aggregate range of a preferred school, I have seen parents asking their children’s teachers for testimonials to boost the chances of getting into the schools.
Tip 4 – Distance between School and Home
Unless you have a family car to chauffeur your child daily, you might want to consider schools that are nearer your home so that commuting time can be reduced.
The number of hours spent in secondary schools can be longer than in primary schools and fatigue can affect your child’s learning.
Tip 5 – Find Out More about the Schools
As mentioned in Tip 2, it is vital to find out if the culture of the school, programmes, CCAs offered and so on suit your child.
Other than academic factors, there are other areas to consider if your child can fit in well or if his potential can be maximised.
The best way to find out more about the different secondary schools is to visit the schools during Open House. Nothing beats having first-hand experience of the school.
Alternatively, you can also pore through “Choosing Your Secondary Schools booklet” or visit schools’ websites to find out more details about each school.
Below are some other factors that you might want to consider:
Affiliated SchoolsStudents of primary schools which are affiliated to secondary schools might have some priority or lower cut-off point for admission.
Special Assistance Plan (SAP) SchoolsIf your child has a good PSLE T-score, is strong in Mother Tongue and appreciates the Chinese culture, SAP schools will be good options which nurture students to be proficient in both the English and Chinese Language.
Programmes and schemes offeredThere are various programmes and schemes offered in different secondary schools. For example, third Languages, Music or Art Elective Programme, Applied Subjects, etc.
Special Needs SchoolsThese schools have specialised facilities and/or resources to support students with special needs. For example, physical disabilities, hearing loss, visual impairment, and mild special educational needs such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder [ASD], Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD] and Dyslexia).
O levels or Integrated Programme (IP)Some schools offer both the O levels and IP programmes. If your child is a self-directed learner, he might want to consider the Integrated Programme that leads to the A levels or other diplomas directly by skipping the O Levels. If not, he can also choose the more structured framework of the O levels.
Specialised schoolsIf your child has a specific talent or potential in certain fields (aesthetics, sports, Math or Science) and you would like him or her to develop in that direction, you can consider the School of the Arts (SOTA), the Singapore Sports School or the School of Science and Technology (SST).
I hope that the above mentioned tips can help your child and you to make a wiser decision. Remember to think through carefully before submitting your choice of schools via the S1 option form. The key is to choose schools that fit and can maximise the potential of your child.
About the Author
Mr. Ng Yeo Heng has over a decade of experience in teaching upper primary Math and Science in local schools. He has a post-graduate diploma in education from NIE and has a wealth of experience in marking PSLE Science and Math papers. When not teaching or working on OwlSmart, he enjoys watching soccer and supports Liverpool football team.