Good results boost neighbourhood schools' popularity

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Aug 8, 2013

RULANG Primary in Jurong West may not be considered a traditionally branded school like Nanyang Primary. But it has been just as sought after by parents during the ongoing Primary 1 registration exercise.

And it is not the only neighbourhood school parents have been scrambling for.

South View Primary in Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Purmei's Radin Mas Primary have also become top choices.

The reason for their popularity is the quality of their academic results, say parents and principals.

Rulang Primary saw a spike in applications during registration last year after the school produced the country's top Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) student in 2011.

This year, just 39 spots out of 270 were left by the time it came to Phase 2C of registration. For this phase, which is for children without a connection to the school, the school received 88 applications.

Previous phases included those for children who already have siblings in the school, or whose parents are alumni members.

South View, which produced two top PSLE scorers in 2009 and one the year before, received 85 applications during this year's Phase 2C despite having just 49 vacancies left.

The school's principal, Ms Jenny Yeo, said that some parents do consider the programmes and facilities that are on offer.

But she acknowledged that "at the moment, parents still focus mainly on the academic performance of a school".

Parenting website KiasuParents co-founder William Toh believes these neighbourhood schools are in demand due to a good academic track record, which helps them develop their own "brand".

He said: "It's word-of-mouth advertising as parents talk and share stories about the school among themselves or on forums."

Mr Toh added that parents also pay attention to who the principals and vice-principals are. That may explain why Alexandra Primary, which will open next year, has been so popular in this year's Primary 1 registration, he said.

The school in Prince Charles Crescent, which saw 232 children vying for 210 places in Phase 2C, will be helmed by the current principal and vice-principal of Maha Bodhi School and CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' Primary.

These schools have been traditionally popular with parents for their above-average academic results.

Madam Eugenia Chua, 38, a former student of Nam San Primary, the precursor to South View, enrolled her daughter there two years ago as it is near her house and has a consistently good academic record.

"During my time, unless you were from the area, nobody would have heard of the school," said the procurement executive.

"But now, even my friend who lives in Toa Payoh has heard of the school because of the recent good PSLE results."

Radin Mas Primary is another neighbourhood school that is becoming increasingly popular.

Madam Yee, 36, a human resource manager who already has a daughter there, picked it for her son, who starts primary school next year. She said the school has produced pupils with good PSLE scores in the last few years, which boosts her confidence in sending her children back to her alma mater.

She said: "The top PSLE pupil usually has a score above 280, and Radin Mas has a good track record of producing pupils with scores above 270."

Phase 2C - the most competitive portion of the registration exercise - ended on Tuesday, with 90 out of 190 schools conducting a ballot because they were oversubscribed.

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Aug 8, 2013To subscribe to The Straits Times, please go to