Half of schools still have P1 places

A sign directing parents to the primary one registration phase 2c at South View Primary School on Aug 6, 2013. Around half of Singapore's primary schools still have spots available for the upcoming registration phase that starts on Tuesday. -- S
A sign directing parents to the primary one registration phase 2c at South View Primary School on Aug 6, 2013. Around half of Singapore's primary schools still have spots available for the upcoming registration phase that starts on Tuesday. -- ST PHOTO:  MARK CHEONG

Many with vacancies in next phase have innovative programmes

Around half of Singapore's primary schools still have spots available for the upcoming registration phase that starts on Tuesday.

The 91 schools may not be the traditional hot favourites, but many boast innovative programmes and good facilities.

Phase 2C Supplementary is open to Singaporeans and permanent residents who have not secured a school yet.

At Punggol Green Primary, which received its first intake this year, children are taken out of the classroom at least four times a year to learn outdoors at the nearby Punggol Waterway Park.

It still has 132 vacancies.

Bukit Timah Primary, in Lorong Kismis, teaches children how to play at least five musical instruments during their time there and gives them a chance to perform in front of their peers.

A theatre, an outdoor science lab and a herb garden are among a suite of new facilities being offered by Guangyang Primary School in Bishan. The school has 138 spots left for the next phase.

Principals and parents told The Straits Times the fact that some schools still have vacancies is not an indication of teaching quality.

Madam Yazilah Amir, principal of Bukit Timah Primary, said parents pick schools based on their aspirations for their children.

Her school still has 58 vacancies. Others close by include the popular Nanyang Primary and Raffles Girls' Primary - both of which are full.

"Some may want a school that has the Gifted Education Programme, but some may just want a school that is nearby," said Madam Yazilah.

She added that some parents mistakenly think that her school is new. In fact, it was previously known as Bukit Batok Primary, and can trace it roots back to 1959 before it was renamed Bukit Timah Primary School in 2001.

Punggol Green Primary, however, is a new school and its principal Seah Lay Tin said a lower enrolment is to be expected because of this.

"With time, parents would give good feedback about the school," she said. "We also know that the area is going to be quite populated in one or two years' time."

Madam Ng Kuan Yeen, 39, a housewife, enrolled her daughter in Punggol Green Primary last year. "It may be a totally new school with no track record, but it did a lot to engage parents," she said. "We play an important role in educating our kids as well."

Mr Larry Medina, 47, who has a son in Balestier Hill Primary, said that even though popular schools may seem to perform better academically, it is not an accurate reflection of teaching quality

He said: "Many of these have parents who send their kids for a lot of enrichment classes, but the neighbourhood schools draw parents who have a different philosophy towards education; a more holistic philosophy."

Balestier Hill Primary still has 126 vacancies. It is the only school in the Novena area with places still available.

staceyc@sph.com.sg