SINGAPORE – About 250 to 300 parents and Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) alumni attended a townhall session on Wednesday evening, held to address concerns about ACS (Primary)’s relocation from Barker Road to Tengah.
Questions ranged from whether the school’s move would mean fewer places for their sons, and if the school’s character would change when it starts to take in girls. Some ACS (Primary) alumni asked if they could get alumni priority for their children to enrol in ACS (Junior) – which is nearby, in Newton – if they did not want to travel to Tengah.
The 1½-hour-long session, which was held by the ACS board of governors and the ACS Old Boys’ Association at ACS (Primary)’s Barker Road campus, was not open to the media.
It was held in the wake of the recent announcement that ACS (Primary) would move to Tengah in 2030, and accept girls for the first time, as part of efforts by the school to cater to the wider population.
Speaking to the media after the townhall, Mr Richard Seow, chairman of ACS’ board of governors, said: “I think some people wanted to have single-sex schools. We basically told them that to get to Tengah, we needed to address the needs for Tengah, which are for co-ed schools. And that was part of the agreement with the Ministry of Education that we would actually go co-ed.
“The central location that we have today is a church property, so we’re not moving from Barker Road. A lot of the feedback was why don’t we have more schools, and we’ll give that feedback back to MOE.”
He added: “Over the years, the school culture really has changed. Girls have come in at the upper levels; the schools have moved to different areas. But I think the ACS spirit continues to be actually very strong.”
Mr Lock Wai Han, president of the ACS Old Boys’ Association, said: “We’ve come a long way from 13 boys to a 10,000-strong student population. This ACS spirit will not change over the next couple of years simply because we’re moving to a new location or bringing more girls into the school.”
Fund-raising efforts and facility upgrading will continue to meet the immediate needs of existing students, he added.
ACS alumni should not worry too much about not having enough places for their children, said Mr Lock.
“We are already creating more places for alumni by introducing female students into the school. This will benefit a large population of alumni.
“Certainly going forward, we want to be able to create more places for both boys and girls... whether boys will be edged out in favour of girls, I think that’s too early to say. History has shown us there are generally sufficient places for our alumni in our schools, and we will strive with the enhanced population in the schools to be able to continue to meet their needs.”
The relocated ACS (Primary) will start operations in 2030 with a larger capacity of 11 Primary 1 classes, up from the current eight. This translates into 330 places for both boys and girls, compared with the current intake of 240 boys at the Barker Road site.
The school in Tengah will be located together with a new special education (Sped) school for pupils with autism spectrum disorder who can access the national curriculum. The Sped school will be run by the Methodist Welfare Services, in partnership with ACS.
Mr Seow said parents and alumni have responded positively to the setting up of the Sped school and are eager to share their expertise or offer help.