Now that junior’s grades are out, we have tips on how to help him pick the right secondary school…


So, you are tempted to single-handedly choose a secondary school for your child based on his aggregate score. Don’t ― because you should involve him in the decision-making process. After all, this is where he’ll be spend the next four to five years of his life and possibly nurture a circle of life-long friends.

When you’re discussing the options with your child, make it a point to note his strengths and weaknesses and reaffirm his hopes and ambition for his future ― it’s way more important than his score. The Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Secondary School Education Booklet has useful pointers you can use in your convo with your kiddo:

*What are the programmes and schemes available in the school?

*What are the school’s strengths?

*Will he be studying among peers with similar PSLE scores?

Entering secondary school also marks your tween’s transition — and dealing with puberty — from big kid to teen. Having the right circle of friends can critically impact his character and values. During this time, he is likely to become more protective of his privacy and start to rebel against your rules, so the last thing he needs is to be surrounded by unsavoury or bad influences.

During this time, he is likely to become more protective of his privacy and start to rebel against your rules, so the last thing he needs is to be surrounded by unsavoury or bad influences.

Therefore, it’s crucial to pick the right secondary school. Besides looking into his scores, you can also consider:

Proficiency levels Based on their PSLE results, your child will be placed in one of three streams — Express, Normal (Academic) (N/A) or Normal (Technical) (N/T). Express- and N/T-stream students complete their secondary school education in four years and the N/A-stream in five years. During the course of their secondary school education, your child will have opportunities to switch from the N/A and N/T streams to Express through school examinations. So, you shouldn’t force your child to enter a stream where he may find himself struggling to keep up, study-wise, with his peers.

Affiliated schools If your child’s primary school is affiliated to the secondary school, the entry scores will be lower for him. Each affiliate will have a set of criteria your child must meet — other than aggregate scores — in order to qualify for admission. However, in order to enter the affiliated school, your child must indicate it as his first choice, even though this doesn’t guarantee admission either.

Special Assistance Plan (SAP) Schools These institutions nurture students to be proficient bilinguals — in the English and Chinese languages. As long as your child has attempted both English and Chinese languages in the PSLE, he will be eligible to apply for SAP schools. Admission is based on the school’s cut-off points for the year, which range from 235 to 279.

Find out what other considerations you need to make…next!



School environment Try looking for schools that have similar features as junior’s current primary school. If your child is already in a mission school, remaining in one will ensure that your kiddo is exposed to the same set of beliefs and values throughout his secondary school years. But if he goes from a single-sex school to a co-ed school, this will mean a bigger adjustment for your child. His current schoolmates also won’t be able to help your child settle into a new environment and he might lose contact with them.

Distance from home The shorter the distance, the less time he needs to spend commuting and he’ll be less tired. Or check if the school has conducive spaces that he can study in after school.

Co-curricular activities If your child possesses talents outside of academics — in the arts, music or sports — picking the right school will allow him to boost that set of skills. Refer to the school’s websites to find out if they have won any, say, performing arts prizes in competitions like the Singapore Youth Festival. Incidentally, it is compulsory for your child will to sign up for a co-curricular activity in secondary school. Student interest groups and societies allow junior to interact with like-minded individuals ― making the transition a less painful.

Also, sticking to a mission school, if your child is already in one, will ensure your kiddo is exposed to the same set of beliefs and values throughout his secondary school years.


Your child’s special needs Some secondary schools house specialised facilities to support educational needs like Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and dyslexia. So, do check if the secondary school offers resources that can support your child’s physical, hearing or visual impairments. Some secondary schools have Allied Educators — counsellors who are trained to provide learning and behavioural support. They will work with teachers to provide the necessary support to integrate your child into the school’s environment.

Specialised programmes Again, it is vital to play to your child’s strengths and passions. Admission to any of these programmes is subject to meeting the criteria. Check to see if your child’s school of choice offers:

*Higher Mother Tongue Language Course An advanced programme in your child’s mother tongue.

*Third Language Programme Choose from languages like French, German or Arabic, among others.

*Mother Tongue Language B If junior is not as adept at Mother Tongue, he can do a simpler Mother Tongue Language programme.

*Music Elective Programme A course in the theoretical and practical studies of music.

*Art Elective Programme Covers the theoretical and historical studies of art. The emphasis is on creative processes.

*Integrated Programme These schools offer a six-year academic programme, which allows your child to get into a Junior College or attain relevant diplomas like the International Baccalaureate or one from NUS High School. Instead of taking the “O” levels, students will attempt the “A” Level Exams at the end of the course. There will also be vacancies to admit suitable students in Secondary Three.

Your child should receive his posting results on 21 December 2016 and must report to the designated secondary school for registration on 22 December 2016.

Read on to learn what you can do if he isn’t accepted into his school of choice…



Junior can only contest the posting results if he meets the cut-off points for the stream in his school of choice. You will need to go to that specific school to submit an appeal form. The principal or vice-principal of that school may invite you and your child to come for an interview to decide if your child is suitable for the school. Such appeals will only be successful if the school still has vacancies.

On its website, the MOE has indicated that it will only consider appeals for a transfer to another school after you child receives his posting results if he or she has:

*Serious medical conditions like chronic heart conditions or kidney problems;

*Dyslexia and Autism Spectrum Disorder; or

*Physical disabilities, requiring wheelchairs or crutches.

These appeals are subjected to the availability of vacancies. Your child will still have to attend lessons at the school he is posted to, pending the outcome of their transfer applications.

Photos: iStock

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