Ask Sandra: Q&A on Primary One registration

Q: I am going to register my child in a school under Phase 2A2 next week. However, my first choice is another school, which he qualifies for under Phase 2B. Balloting was conducted at the school of my first choice in Phase 2B in previous years for those living more than 2km away. I intend to register my child under Phase 2A2 first. 

When Phase 2B opens and there is a chance that he can get in without balloting, I intend to withdraw the registration at the earlier school and register him for the second one. Should I do this?

A: Phase 2A2, the third of the seven stages of the Primary 1 registration exercise, is for children whose parents or siblings were former pupils of their school of choice.

The next stage, Phase 2B, is for children whose parents are volunteers at the school and those who have church and clan connections with the school.

A child can be registered in only one school at any point of the Primary 1 registration exercise.

But if you change your mind, you may withdraw an earlier application to register at another school.

However, I would not recommend this. You have to consider the fact that your child has already secured a place in the earlier phase, while he may be subject to balloting at the second school, especially if it is a popular one.

Q: I travel frequently in my job and mixed up the registration dates and phases, and forgot to register my child under Phase 2A1.What should I do?

A: Phase 2A1 is for children whose parents are alumni association members. You will have to register your child in the next stage, Phase 2A2, for children whose parents or siblings were former pupils of their school of choice.

This starts today and ends tomorrow. Your child will participate in the exercise together with the other children who register under the same phase.

No priority will be given to your child even though you are a member of the alumni association while other parents may not be.

Q: I am picking a Christian mission school for my child because I feel it would teach him the correct values. But I also feel that the school should prepare him well for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). How do I check the academic performance of the pupils in a primary school?

A: If PSLE achievements are important to you, ask the school about the number of pupils who made it to the Express and Normal streams. This number points to how well the school's pupils fared in the PSLE.

I would advise you to ask the school head about his educational philosophy and see if it squares with your own views on what is important in education.

It may also be useful to check the worksheets prepared by teachers to see if creativity and independent thinking are encouraged.

If your child is gifted in mathematics or the arts, ask about the school's enrichment programmes in these areas.

Get in touch with the parents' support group and ask its members about their experiences.

Q: I am a full-time working mother and my sister takes care of my daughter. Can I use her home address to register my daughter in the Primary 1 registration exercise?

A: Yes, but a statutory declaration is required. Both you and your husband must be working full time and your sister must not be employed and must be providing full-time care for your daughter.

Children who apply using a statutory declaration and live within 1km or between 1km and 2km of the school of choice have the same chances of getting a place in the school during a ballot as other children of the same citizenship residing within 1km or between 1km and 2km of the school.

Q: I own a house which I rent out. My two children and I currently live with my parents. Which address should I use to register my child for Primary 1?

A: The address used should be your official residential address stated in your identity card.

This address will be used to determine the distance between the home and the school when considering priority in admissions.

Priority is given with the expectation that the family will reside at this address for the duration of the child's primary school studies, as it is for the convenience and interest of the child.

Please note that, this year, a new rule has been introduced for those who gain priority admission to schools based on distance.

They have to live at the address used for registration for at least 30 months from the start of the Primary 1 registration exercise.

Those with a yet-to-be-completed property also have to live at the new address for as long, but this can start only from when they move in and not from the start of the registration exercise, subject to certain limits. The Ministry of Education did not set any specific time period previously.

If this new condition is not met, the ministry may transfer the child to another school.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2015, with the headline 'Ask Sandra'. Print Edition | Subscribe