SINGAPORE - Despite measures to take the heat off demand for popular primary schools here, 31 were still oversubscribed when phase 2B of the Primary 1 registration exercise ended on Tuesday.
The Education Ministry had introduced a new rule this year where all primary schools had to reserve 40 places, split equally between phases 2B and 2C, before the registration exercise began. Phase 2C, which considers home-school distance, is meant for children with no ties to the primary schools.
The new rule was meant to cool the demand at the more popular primary schools, some of which had fewer than 20 spots available for phases 2B and 2C last year.
Last year, there were 30 oversubscribed schools when phase 2B, meant for children of school volunteers, active grassroots leaders, or have church or clan affiliations, closed. Twenty-four schools had to go through a ballot.
The oversubscribed schools this year include hot favourites Ai Tong Primary, CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls' School, Methodist Girls' School, Tao Nan School, and Fairfield Methodist School.
Fairfield Methodist School was the most oversubscribed school on Tuesday, with 51 children vying for 29 spots.
But Henry Park Primary, which had the hottest demand last year with only 13 places available for phases 2B and 2C, will not face a ballot now. It had 22 children registering for exactly 22 spots. This is the first time since 2011 that the school will not go through a ballot in this phase.
Mr Terry Ng was glad to secure a place for his daughter at Ngee Ann Primary, which had 35 children registering for 49 spots. The father of two had spent 40 hours volunteering there in the last year - as librarian, traffic marshal and helping out with school camps.
"Ngee Ann is getting popular in recent years, but it doesn't usually have balloting because it's beside Tao Nan, which gets all the limelight," said the 36-year-old regular in the Singapore Armed Forces.
"I believe that my daughter can do well in an above-average school with good parent support."
The Education Ministry will announce schools requiring a ballot on Wednesday.
Not all oversubscribed schools need to conduct balloting. If a school has 30 vacancies and exactly 30 Singaporean children living within 1km of the school apply for it, no balloting will be needed. Other applicants who live farther will not be admitted. In this phase, Singaporeans are given priority over Permanent Residents.