To help children transition more smoothly to Primary 1, those attending Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens will be given priority to enter the primary school that shares a compound with their kindergarten.
The MOE said this will involve 12 kindergartens as part of a pilot scheme next year, involving children entering Primary 1 in 2019.
Kindergarten children applying for admission to the respective primary school will be eligible under Phase 2A2 of the Primary 1 registration scheme, which currently applies to children whose parents or siblings had studied in the primary school, but had not joined the alumni association.
The change, announced yesterday, puts MOE kindergarten children ahead of those who apply in the next phase, 2B, which gives priority to parent volunteers and those with church or clan links.
The ministry will continue to set aside a minimum of 40 places for phases 2B and 2C. It also said it will provide sufficient school places on a regional basis so that no child will have to travel long distances to his or her primary school.
Schools involved include Riverside Primary, Farrer Park, Punggol Green and West Spring.
Explaining the move, Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said: "MOE always has the child at the centre of its policymaking. It will facilitate the child's learning in a more familiar environment... We hope to enable the child to have a smoother transition to Primary 1."
Will the change lead to more pressure for Primary 1 registration?
MOE assured parents that the planned intake from its kindergartens will be below that of the associated primary school. Parents may also choose another primary school.
But it admitted that "as demand situations differ from year to year, we are unable to predict the demand situation in individual schools and kindergartens".
"The MOE kindergartens are located in areas with upcoming developments and families with young children. We expect healthy demand for these school-based kindergartens as well as the primary schools in that area."
MOE explained that it was making this change to help children have an easier transition to the co-located primary schools as they would remain in a familiar environment.
"With a close partnership between the kindergarten and the primary school, the latter would also be more familiar with the needs of the children, and can more quickly ensure that they have the necessary developmental support when they enter Primary 1."
Currently, about half of MOE kindergarten children register in the associated primary schools. Each kindergarten takes in about 60 to 120 children every year.
When asked if it had considered according the same priority to children attending private kindergartens near primary schools, MOE said its kindergartens come under the purview of primary schools they are co-located with, and the heads and teachers work closely with the primary school teachers. "Private kindergartens do not have similar arrangements," it said.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced in August that MOE will scale up to 50 kindergartens in the next five years.
Following that, MOE announced that it will open 13 new MOE kindergartens in 2019 and 2020 in areas with high demand. All of them will be located in the same compounds as primary schools.
Of the 13, seven will open in 2019, and six in 2020.