Q How does the school posting system work and what else should I consider in selecting a secondary school for my son?
A The Education Ministry announced two years ago that it was reviewing the PSLE scoring system and how it is used for secondary school admission.
But, for now, the old system applies: Students go to the secondary school of their choice based on their aggregate score in the PSLE.
First, students are ranked according to detailed aggregate scores that extend to decimal points.
The No. 1 student is posted to the school on top of his list of six choices. Likewise, the second student and so on, until there are no more vacancies in the school.
Where there are two or more students with the same rounded aggregate score (yes, scores are actually rounded to the nearest whole number) vying for the last place in a school, they will be posted based on their citizenship. Singaporeans get first dibs, followed by permanent residents and international students.
The student who fails to get his top choice will be posted to the next school on his list. If that school is also full, he will be sent to his third-choice school, and so on.
Where there are two or more students with the same rounded aggregate score (yes, scores are actually rounded to the nearest whole number) vying for the last place in a school, they will be posted based on their citizenship.
Singaporeans get first dibs, followed by permanent residents and international students.
If there is still a tie, between two Singaporeans for example, the one with the higher unrounded aggregate score will be posted to the school first. If the two have the same unrounded aggregate score, then posting will be determined by a computerised ballot.
Students who fail to get a place in any of their choice of schools will be posted to one near their home which still has vacancies.
However, they must have met the school's lowest PSLE aggregate. Those still without a school will be posted to one in other postal districts that still has vacancies.
If your son's school has an affiliated secondary school, and he wants to go there, he must indicate it as his first choice. This gives him priority to go there. However, it does not guarantee admission; this is subject to the availability of places.
Some secondary schools may also set extra qualifying criteria for admission from affiliated schools.
For schools offering both Integrated Programme and O-level tracks, affiliation priority will be given only for the O-level track.
Some secondary schools offer special schemes such as the music and art elective programmes. If your child is interested in any of them, do include schools that offer them.
Q What other considerations should parents have?
A Distance is important. Time spent travelling to and from school can be better used to take up sports or co-curricular activities.
Parents are often torn between a more and a less competitive school.
Research has shown that students may actually do better in a less popular - or what researchers term a "less selective" - school.
Research suggests that a student's confidence depends not only on his own accomplishments, but also on the relative accomplishments of his classmates and schoolmates. This means students who view themselves as having low or average ability will get a confidence booster if they attend an average-performance school.
The reverse is likely to be the case in a high-achieving school.
Parents should consider carefully their child's strengths and weaknesses. Does the child thrive in competition or will his self-esteem be dashed if he goes from being first in class to being last?
Consider also the sports and co-curricular activities a school offers as they are crucial to the development of character and soft skills such as communication and teamwork in children.
In the end, instead of aiming for a top school, parents should pick one that will help bring out the best in the child, be it in academic work, sports or the arts.
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