Research associate Madam Audrey Ong, 33, heaved a sigh of relief when she found out yesterday that no balloting will be needed at River Valley Primary School.
The mother of two had volunteered at the school for a year, sorting books in the library about thrice a week, and chaperoning pupils when they went on excursions.
All this was done in the hope of getting her son, who starts Primary 1 next year, a place in the school. River Valley Primary is within 2km of their home.
The school had all 42 places available for Phase 2B of the Primary 1 registration exercise taken up when the phase ended yesterday.
Phase 2B gives priority to children whose parents have put in at least 40 hours of volunteer work in the school. Active community leaders or parents of a relevant church or clan can also apply during this phase.
But not all parents were as lucky as Madam Ong.
At the close of Phase 2B, 30 schools had received more applications than the number of places available. At this time last year, there were 31 oversubscribed schools.
Ai Tong Primary in Bishan had 25 applicants vying for just eight spots, while Hong Wen School in Towner Road had 72 applicants going for 51 places.
A handful of neighbourhood schools were also sought after. One of these was Canberra Primary in Sembawang, which had 72 applicants vying for 63 places.
Parents who opted for these schools may have to go through a ballot on Friday to secure places for their children.
But 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.
Hong Wen principal Ngoh Choon Ho said the school sent out 64 letters this year to parent volunteers who were qualified to apply under Phase 2B.
"We made it clear to them from the start that when you join as a volunteer, it is so that you can know more about the school... not to guarantee a place here for your child," he said.
A parent who wanted to be known only as Madam Chang, 41, registered her daughter at Fairfield Methodist School in Dover Road yesterday. The school is affiliated to the church she attends with her family. It had 19 vacancies but received 50 applications.
"Looking at the numbers, I think we have a slim chance of getting it," said the financial analyst, who will consider alternatives like Pei Hwa Presbyterian in Toh Yi or Bukit Timah Primary, which are both located near her home.
The next phase, 2C, which starts next Tuesday, is open to those who are not registered in any schools yet.
Additional reporting by Stacey Chia