SINGAPORE - Mrs Agnes Chan and her husband are keen to send their daughter to CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School Secondary, and based on her preliminary exam results, she stands a good chance of getting in.
But the new Primary School Leaving Examination scoring system has left them searching for alternatives in case their daughter fails to meet the entry score.
The 37-year-old mother of two said the school was chosen because it is a top school that is known to help students do well academically.
It is also close to their home in Yio Chu Kang.
Mrs Chan, a former teacher, said: "In between preparing my daughter for the exams, my husband and I are poring over the secondary schools list.
"Under the old scoring system, my daughter had a good chance of getting a place in St Nicholas. Under the new system though, we are not sure.
"Will there be more ties for places in schools? And although MOE has given indicative entry scores based on last year's data, we are wondering if they likely to change."
On Oct 30, Mrs Chan and other parents with questions about the new scoring system will have the opportunity to put their questions to Mr Sng Chern Wei, who is the Ministry of Education's deputy director-general of education (Curriculum).
The online event - organised by ST Smart Parenting, the education and parenting site launched by The Straits Times last year - aims to help parents understand how the new PSLE scoring system could impact secondary school postings this year.
Parents with questions on whether popular schools are likely to see more competition this year and if more students are likely to tie for places, among other things, are encouraged to send in their questions before the session.
ST senior education correspondent Sandra Davie will moderate the event.
There will also be breakout sessions held online by 10 schools.
They are: Raffles Institution, Nanyang Girls' High School, Anderson Secondary School, CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh), Temasek Junior College, Queenstown Secondary School, Pasir Ris Crest Secondary School, Swiss Cottage Secondary School, Nan Chiau High School and Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary).
Parents are advised to sign up for these sessions, even if their children are not aiming to secure a place in these schools.
This is because principals will be talking about the different pathways and programmes that secondary schools offer and also give advice on how to prepare their children for secondary school education.
Raffles Institution principal Frederick Yeo, as well as Temasek Junior College principal Low Ay Nar will talk about the popular Integrated Programme (IP) and which students will benefit most from it.
And Nanyang Girls' High principal Ng Chuen-Yin and Nan Chiau High principal Siau Fong Fui will explain how Special Assistance Plan schools nurture bilingual and bicultural Singaporeans.
Heads of other popular secondary schools such as Anderson Secondary and Swiss Cottage Secondary will highlight school programmes and why some students, despite being able to enter the IP schools, choose to come to their schools for the O-level track.
Ms Davie said with the new scoring system, parents need to consider the choices carefully for their children.
"The secondary school system offers many more choices - specialised schools, the four-year O-level track , the six-year integrated programme track, different finishing exams - the A levels, the International Baccalaureate, and schools with interesting CCAs and niche programmes. But it also means that students and parents and have a harder time weighing those choices," she said.
She added that most parents try and get their children into "the best secondary school" they can get into based on their aggregate score. But, she said parents should consider other aspects.
"They should be looking at the student clubs, sports and the niche programmes that schools have. They should be looking for a school that will help their child discover where their interests and talents lie, how the child learns best, what motivates them to go in-depth in a field. In short, a school that will help them flourish."
Ms Davie said parents can look forward to more such events organised by ST Smart Parenting to help their children navigate the system and make more informed decisions. In the works are a young readers' festival, a university fair and the annual ST Education Forum.
Registration is free for the PSLE event. To sign up, parents can go to this website.