SINGAPORE - Come 2030, Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) will be moving from its current Barker Road campus in Newton to Tengah, as part of a major effort by the school to be accessible to as many pupils as possible.
The new ACS Primary, to be located in the up-and-coming Housing Board town in the west of Singapore, will also, from the same year, accept girls for the first time.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced this on Thursday along with plans for the opening and relocation of six schools to meet the growing demand for places from 2026.
Noting that the relocation of ACS Primary is a significant move, the ministry said it had been in discussion with ACS since early 2022 to relocate one of its primary schools to serve the wider community. This followed changes to the Primary 1 registration exercise in the same year to allocate more places to children with no prior links to schools.
The relocated ACS Primary will start operations in 2030 with only new Primary 1 pupils, in other words, those born in 2023. The school will have a larger capacity of 11 Primary 1 classes, up from eight currently.
The school in Tengah will be located together with a new special education (Sped) school for pupils with autism spectrum disorder who can access the national curriculum. The Sped school will be run by Methodist Welfare Services in partnership with ACS.
MOE said at a media briefing on Thursday that pupils at the current Barker Road campus will not need to make the 12km move to Tengah. To minimise disruptions, existing pupils will remain until graduation in Primary 6.
Both school sites – in Barker Road and Tengah – will, for a number of years, be run concurrently. The Barker Road campus will continue to admit only younger male siblings for Primary 1 from 2030, as long as they have an older sibling studying at the same school, for the convenience of families of existing pupils.
At the same time, both male and female siblings of existing ACS Primary pupils will be eligible for Phase 1 priority for Primary 1 registration at the Tengah campus.
The plan is for the original ACS Primary campus to consolidate with ACS (Junior), which is also in Newton, in 2033, before combining their operations at the Barker Road campus, tentatively in 2039.
In a statement on Thursday, Mr Richard Seow, chairman of the ACS board of governors, said: “By relocating ACS(P) to Tengah to serve a new neighbourhood as a co-ed school, the ACS family will serve more students’ educational and co-curricular needs. This achieves a more inclusive educational offering as one of Singapore’s mission schools.”
Special education has been another area that ACS has been mulling over, said Mr Seow.
“We are truly appreciative that our constant discussions with MOE over the years have culminated in this humbling opportunity to serve humanity in a new way,” he said.
“With access to resources and cutting-edge Sped pedagogies, we aim to contribute to the upliftment of special education in Singapore.”
The Sped school, which has not been named, is set to begin operations in 2026 at an interim site that previously housed Chua Chu Kang Secondary School. It will then relocate to its permanent campus in Tengah, tentatively in 2031.
Injecting more diversity
In an internal letter on Thursday to alumni and other stakeholders, ACS said the move to Tengah was the result of a year-long discussion between its board of governors, MOE and government leaders on how it could better serve the community in the heartland and inject more diversity into its student profiles, especially at the Primary 1 intake.
“We now have the opportunity to expand the ACS family to a new residential estate, which is likely to have a diverse population comprising people of varied socio-economic, ethnic and religious backgrounds,” the letter said.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing thanked the Methodist Church, ACS board of governors and alumni for their leadership in serving a wider community in a different geographical area, in the special needs sector and getting ACS (Primary) to become a co-educational school.
Mr Patrick Tay, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, said: “Instead of closing or merging existing schools, I think this is a positive move to move some of these ‘popular’ primary schools, and even Integrated Programme schools concentrated in Bukit Timah, to other parts of Singapore where there is strong demand, with the creation of new towns like Tengah, Punggol, Sengkang, Woodlands and Pasir Ris.”
Alumni like Dr Lam Pin Min, former senior minister of state for transport and health, said in a Facebook post that it was with “mixed feelings” that he received the news, as many of his childhood education memories were from the previous locations of the school.
“In the grand scheme of things, this is a positive move as many more Singaporeans, including daughters of ACS alumnus, will be able to benefit from the same experience I had. In addition, the new Sped school also presents opportunities for ACS students to interact with differently abled peers through learning and playing together,” he added.