Choosing a new secondary school can be an exciting yet stressful activity. As your child begins another chapter of their life, you may be looking at their options for secondary schools and wondering how to pick the perfect one. Don’t worry, many of the students at our mathematics tuition centre have faced the same difficulties before. We’ve consolidated this list of pointers to help you choose the right secondary school for your child!
Not all subjects are offered in every school. If your child is interested in taking certain subjects, such as music, art, design and technology, food and nutrition, or other less common ones, you may need to look at which schools offer them.
Even for “regular” subjects, some schools may also not offer subject options such as pure sciences, triple sciences, triple humanities, or certain humanities. As such, it is a good idea to review the subject list when looking at your child’s options for secondary schools.
Similarly, most schools offer only a selection of CCAs and enrichment programmes. Some schools are known for their award-winning sports teams, while others are renowned for their arts societies, and yet others have been alma maters of great leaders. Since almost every student is expected to participate in a CCA while they are in secondary school, you might as well look at the list of available CCAs with your child and decide which ones to go for.
Didn’t score high enough to get into your child’s secondary school of choice? Not to worry – your child can still register under the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme. The application is done before your child takes the PSLE, and is based on a talent or skill. For example, if your child has been actively playing for the school’s tennis team, they may be eligible to apply for DSA with their skill in tennis. A wide range of talents can be applicable for DSA, including sports, performing arts, public speaking, leadership, uniformed groups, or even being especially good in a certain subject. Some of our students managed to get a DSA placing with the skills they learned from our primary math tuition in Singapore!
If your child is accepted under DSA, they will be guaranteed a placement in a particular secondary school. However, this comes with a catch – your child will typically be expected to join the secondary school’s CCA for the skill they got accepted for, or take the subject they applied to DSA with. The idea is that the school accepts a student who may not have met the minimum PSLE score requirement, but has a particular skill or talent they can use to contribute to the school.
Many students wish to attend the school of their dreams, but is it worth the inconvenience and reduced sleep if the school is very far away? These days, commute in Singapore isn’t much of a problem, but the distance to school is something for you and your child to consider, depending on how far away the school is and how early your child may need to wake up to make it to school on time. It’s worth noting that secondary schools tend to have longer hours than primary schools – add a CCA and your child may be spending most of the day in school and coming home near dinnertime, then having to wake up early for the next school day. As such, some students may prefer a secondary school closer to their home. Alternatively, you can also find a school close to somewhere your child will frequent, such as a mathematics tuition centre.
A little lower on our list is the PSLE T-score criterion, which has become less of a deciding factor in choosing a secondary school. Traditionally, students were restricted by their PSLE T-scores to a selected number of secondary schools based on the cut-off scores. More prestigious schools would only accept the top percentage of the cohort, so the higher the T-score, the more choices your child would have. A lower score meant a lower likelihood of getting into your child’s preferred school, especially if the cut-off score was higher than your child’s PSLE score. Lots of emphasis was placed on attaining the highest score, leading to primary math tuition in Singapore becoming mainstream. Students were given a handbook with each school’s cut-off points for the previous year for a rough idea of each school’s minimum score.
However, from January 2021 onwards, the T-score system has been discontinued and replaced with Achievement Levels (ALs). With a wider band of scoring, it is more likely for multiple students to achieve the same PSLE score. Secondary school posting is done in order of scores, so this is something you and your child will need to keep in mind. Of course, it is always best