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Primary 1 for local schools - Phase 3 registration

Discuss various schooling options for your children here.
martyr mum
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Primary 1 for local schools - Phase 3 registration

Postby martyr mum » Mon, 09 Jan 2012 10:11 am

Hello everyone,
Happy new year.

Looking for some insights to P1 registration for non-PR/non-Citizens route, ie Phase 3.

My son is turning 5 this year, which means, we will have to register him for P1 come June 2013. The latest Phase 3 exercise has just completed and I read with great interest that Phase 3 now has balloting, and that even in this phase, the demand had outstripped the supply in many schools (eg, Cantonement Primary, as in MetroGuy's latest post).

I had assumed by the time Phase 3 came along, most citizens and PRs would have secured one of their choices (1st, 2nd or 3rd) and everyone else will choose from what's "left-over". I can only conclude that this phase has more foreigners than ever before in Phase 3 history.

So now I've got ants in my pants and concerned about our options in Phase 3.

We are hoping to enrol him in a school nearby. We are not focussed on the popular schools deemed top-tier by citizens.

I cannot imagine putting him on a long commute (we did try that route, when we could not get him into ANY nursery nearby!!) and that experience told us, never again.

Our catchment area is Bukit Merah, and citizens/PRs are keen on Radis Mas and Gan Eng Seng or Zhagde - neither which we are keen on, prefering to steer away from "academic-focus" schools (I could be wrong here). That leaves us with Cantonement (oversubscribed in 2011 balloting).

Not sure what else will be left over for Phase 3, as competition for those above mentioned schools is tremendous.

I am reaching out particularly to boffenl who seems to have up-to-date insights into primary schooling (*waves hello*).

If anyone else can lend some insights into Phase 3 specifically, I would be most thankful.

Many thanks.

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Postby boffenl » Mon, 09 Jan 2012 11:05 am

Hi, I'm waving back! :)

I think you're going into this process in the right mind-set. We didn't enroll our daughter into a top school, but a neighborhood school and couldn't be happier! You do have some time to "worry", but I think with the expanding schools they will be mitigating some of the crush for those non-citizens and-PR's choosing to send their kids to a local school.

I have not heard of anyone who was denied a spot at a local school. Of the three I know of in the most recent Phase 3 exercise, they all received spots at schools within 2.5km of their homes. It does require you to be on-top of your choices, so around December this year you should start visiting schools so you'll know where would make sense for your little person.

I think you've hit the nail on the head with " the demand had outstripped the supply in many schools " the point is IN MANY SCHOOLS--- these being the popular schools with locals. But there are spots at local schools for all kids, they just might not be at the top schools.

I'd encourage you to become involved at whatever school your little person enrolls in--you can be an active advocate for him and others too.

Good luck!

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Postby martyr mum » Tue, 10 Jan 2012 9:49 am

Hello Boffenl,

Thanks for your reply, much appreciated.

I do believe there's sufficient spots, just a matter of which school and where. The "where" part is the one we're concerned with. In our catchment area, all the schools seem oversubscribed. Our concern is having to send him further afield, which is something we're hoping to avoid.

But I guess there really is nothing we can do about that. I know you've said many times before, becoming a PR helps with the application, but having 2 boys... we're not certain if we should be the ones making that decision now, for them. We have no family or ties to SG, so not sure how long we'll be here for. It's all very dependent on the nature of my husband's work.

So that is another decision we're pondering.

In any case, how is your daughter getting on with her MT, Mandarin? Am I right to assume that we're all supposed to give the MT a go (unless you opt out from the start to do a foreign language, eg German or French), and then re-evaluate when the child is in P3?

Are you still able to ask for an exemption at P3 level? Neither of us can speak or read Mandarin to save our lives, and we don't speak it at home either. I'm just not sure subjecting him to a language that we are unable to help him with, is fair.

As usual, I welcome all thoughts and feedback. Much appreciated.

Have a good day.

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Postby boffenl » Tue, 10 Jan 2012 11:20 pm

You're right martyr mum--if we had a son versus a daughter, I'm not sure we would have made the PR choice for him either.

As for mother tongue, her new Mandarin teacher took her aside on Monday with a Phillipina classmate and asked them both to have their parents apply for an exemption. :) So, I'm assuming we can still get the exemption. I've been hoping for a miracle, but we're most like your case, neither my husband or I speak Mandarin. And we haven't had a miracle--so better bow down to "pressure" and apply for the exemption.

The teacher told her that that nothing will change--she'll still have to attend classes and take the tests. We'll see, when she brings home the form I'll pst and let everyone know about the process.

We did think about changing at the very beginning since my husband speaks three other languages fluently and any of those three would have worked. BUT, when else will she have such an emmersion opportunity? Going on five years it's been an amazing chance for her.

Good luck with your choices!

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Postby martyr mum » Wed, 11 Jan 2012 9:43 am

Hello Boffenl,

Yes, so you see our predicament with having 2 x Y-chromosomes!

The thing with 2 sons, when it comes to the younger one's turn for P1, we'll be going through another Phase 3 exercise again. No shoo-in, despite a sibling in the school, as that privilege rightfully belongs to citizens/PRs.

Some friends have advised us to just take the PR-route, but they have no sons, so I don't think they quite appreciate our situation, despite their well-meaning advice.

Thank you for sharing about the MT exemption. I think most schools now expect you to give MT a go, and will re-evaluate the situation when the child is in P3.

I don't see much point in taking any of the other foreign languages either. As you pointed out, language is best learned through exposure and immersion (we don't speak any of the foreign language either!). With Mandarin, the primary schooling system can offer that experience.

With an exemption though, the Mandarin won't count towards your daughter's PSLE results, is this correct? But she will still sit for tests and term exams?

How does she feel about an exemption?

Wouldn't trade my sons for any other girls, but all these worry is doing my head in!

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Postby fushiav » Wed, 11 Jan 2012 10:19 pm

Hi martyrmum,

Just to say we have enrolled our son in P1 last August and he has just started class last week in Queenstown Primary school. The whole process was a little bit stressful I admit, but so far it has worked out ok! One invaluable tool is a website called kiasuparents - once you have registered (it's free), you can get access to all the stats about vacancies at each stage of the process for each school, area by area and this for the past 3 years, so that you can see a trend, if a school is becoming more and more popular and vice versa. They also update it almost on a daily basis once the registration process has started. You can also get access to parents'forum for each school so you get a bit of an insight. There are also things like school's psle results etc.. Unfortunately the webiste does not provide information on which schools got oversubscribed in phase 3 but i am sure you can get that info from MOE.

By the way we have found the MOE to be very helpful on the phone whenever we had any question on the system or process.

Once you have identified schools that you might consider and which typically have some places available in phase 3, go and visit them as boffenl said. generally you only get a quick tour of the canteen and the sportsground, but the staff is generally friendly and you can ask questions, so that it gives you a feel for the place. Also make sure you go to their open days (I think most schools have theirs in May or June) as you get the meet the pupils and the teachers.

Oh and it may be early but you might want to make sure you have all the registration documentation ready in time (we realised a month before the process that our son did not have all the jabs needed - you need to gather all the immunisation records for instance...)

One piece of advice is to consider as many schools as you can stretch to geographically and get to know the schools before the registration process starts, as the schools available on the P3 registration day may not be the one you were looking for.

As the P3 phase is no longer a first come first serve process, i think it pays to wait until the afternoon - we called all the schools at lunch time to check how they were filling up, and ruled out for us schools which were definitely going get into ballotting.

There are very few Singaporeans or PRs in phase 3 - the bulk of phase 3 applicants would be expats, not just Caucasians but in fact the majority comes from other Asian countries (quite a few from China, Korea, Phillipines and Vietnam.

We have asked the school about the exemption for chinese, apparently it is not automatically granted when asked, they advised us to wait and see how our son is doing, and if his results are bad in Chinese but ok in other subjects, to apply for an exemption. I'd like him to continue to attend the classes in any event, as it would be invaluable language to have.

That's all for now but feel free to ask questions, happy to answer if i can!

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Postby boffenl » Thu, 12 Jan 2012 1:24 pm

+1 I loved your reply!

My daughter gave me the exemption form (Form 2 MOE). It's pretty standard--with a very small section for your "reason" for wanting the exemption. But there is a huge section (2 pages) to fill out if your child has a learning disability and you want an exemption.

I'm working on a seperate sheet of paper with our reason for exemption. Best to let them know as much as possible I figure.

Yes, her scores in Mandarin will not be reported or counted for PSLE. I need to do some research on how or if this is even an issue. They've been talking to the kids about JC's and university, which is awesome. The more you talk to kids about higher education the more likely they will be successful and graduate.

Good luck!

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Postby martyr mum » Mon, 06 Feb 2012 1:20 pm

Hello,
Been a crazy month, with sick kids. Happy Lunar New Year!

Boffenl,
How did the exemption process go? Have you had an answer?

I'm curious, about the foreign languages (we don't speak any of them either!), are the children tested at PSLE level?

Who monitors their progress in the foreign language? Are they supposed to seat for term papers, as I presume, they would for the Mother Tongue?

I can't seem to find any answers on the foreign language!

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Postby martyr mum » Mon, 06 Feb 2012 1:21 pm

Fushiav,
Thank you for taking the time and sharing your experience, much appreciated.

How is your child settling into school so far?

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Postby boffenl » Tue, 14 Feb 2012 1:51 pm

Given other family issues, we held off on the examption process. But, if we go forward I'll let you know.

Glad this forum is helping!

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Postby martyr mum » Tue, 14 Feb 2012 1:53 pm

Hope everything is ok

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Postby fushiav » Mon, 27 Feb 2012 10:55 am

Hi martyrmum, my son has settled quite well in the school thanks. He's coping well with all the subjects, in fact his dad is wondering if he is stretched enough (!). From what I hear, P1 and P2 the pace is relatively slow, but it really starts heating up from P3/P4. He has little homework (perhaps 15min 3 times a week - from what I understand they often give the kids time to complete some of the homework in class, which is a good idea). Being a neighborhood school, enrichment classes do not seem the norm at all amongst the kids, which is great. There is a real emphasis on languages - he has about 10 hours of Chinese, but very little sport (1hour of PE per week). There is also arts and music classes, social science etc so I think the curriculum is actually quite good. So far we are happy with our choice, at that stage if I had to point the negative points it would probably be Singlish (our DS is now bilingual is Singlish after only a couple of months!) and I wished there would be a bit more PE.

Just perhaps a warning regarding the mother tongue exemption - I have met a few parents who apply for the exemption and did not get it on the basis that their children attended a local kindergarten before starting P1 where Chinese was part of the curriculum - in other words, the kids had exposure to Chinese from early on so should have picked it up. I think if the exemption is rejected you may continue to apply for one every year - it may be that the MOE may grant the exemption at the last minute (ie in P6).

We were advised by the school to let our son try it out first so that we can show MOE that he has indeed tried but that his grades are low... I am keen for him to learn Chinese but a bit worried about his Chinese bringing is overall grading down (as there is a lot of weight given to mother tongue). Too early to start worrying about this anyway so will just keep going!

Do you know which local school you would like to child to get into?

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Postby hkml » Fri, 30 Mar 2012 5:31 am

Thanks very much for the valuable information, especially to fushiav, boffenl and martyr mum! My husband and I are also looking to relocate to Singapore with my 2 girls (6 and 3 yr old) from Chicago and I am especially concerned now after I read the recent news from MOE:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/ ... 33/1/.html

Definitely I don't expect we will be getting PR this year so I hope we can find a spot for my elder girl during Phase 3 - if there's any school left at all for foreigner...




"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children." ~ Charles R. Swindoll, The Strong Family

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Postby nanay » Tue, 09 Apr 2013 11:26 am

hi fushiav,

how are your kids doing in their Mandarin classes?

my dd is currently in Primary 1 at CHIJ Upper Bukit Timah and is struggling with Han Yu Pinyin (I didnt enroll her in any enrichment classes thats why)..

so now am trying to catch up..
I love my dd
Visit our blog:
http://kidslearnchinesesg.wordpress.com/

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Postby Nhunguyen » Mon, 20 May 2013 9:40 pm

fushiav wrote:Hi martyrmum,

Just to say we have enrolled our son in P1 last August and he has just started class last week in Queenstown Primary school. The whole process was a little bit stressful I admit, but so far it has worked out ok! One invaluable tool is a website called kiasuparents - once you have registered (it's free), you can get access to all the stats about vacancies at each stage of the process for each school, area by area and this for the past 3 years, so that you can see a trend, if a school is becoming more and more popular and vice versa. They also update it almost on a daily basis once the registration process has started. You can also get access to parents'forum for each school so you get a bit of an insight. There are also things like school's psle results etc.. Unfortunately the webiste does not provide information on which schools got oversubscribed in phase 3 but i am sure you can get that info from MOE.

By the way we have found the MOE to be very helpful on the phone whenever we had any question on the system or process.

Once you have identified schools that you might consider and which typically have some places available in phase 3, go and visit them as boffenl said. generally you only get a quick tour of the canteen and the sportsground, but the staff is generally friendly and you can ask questions, so that it gives you a feel for the place. Also make sure you go to their open days (I think most schools have theirs in May or June) as you get the meet the pupils and the teachers.

Oh and it may be early but you might want to make sure you have all the registration documentation ready in time (we realised a month before the process that our son did not have all the jabs needed - you need to gather all the immunisation records for instance...)

One piece of advice is to consider as many schools as you can stretch to geographically and get to know the schools before the registration process starts, as the schools available on the P3 registration day may not be the one you were looking for.

As the P3 phase is no longer a first come first serve process, i think it pays to wait until the afternoon - we called all the schools at lunch time to check how they were filling up, and ruled out for us schools which were definitely going get into ballotting.

There are very few Singaporeans or PRs in phase 3 - the bulk of phase 3 applicants would be expats, not just Caucasians but in fact the majority comes from other Asian countries (quite a few from China, Korea, Phillipines and Vietnam.

We have asked the school about the exemption for chinese, apparently it is not automatically granted when asked, they advised us to wait and see how our son is doing, and if his results are bad in Chinese but ok in other subjects, to apply for an exemption. I'd like him to continue to attend the classes in any event, as it would be invaluable language to have.

That's all for now but feel free to ask questions, happy to answer if i can!


Hi,

My daughter is born in April 2007, and it's time to organize to register her for 2014 Primary school. I am getting nervous just like other expat family that want their children in local school.

We live in Toa Payoh so the best chance for us is First Toa Payoh (not many local think I should put her in that school). I'm looking at Guangyang Pri in Bishan then found out recently that they ballot in Phase 3.

Our lease is expired in April 2014 so worse come to worse we will move to wherever school is available for my daughter. Once she's in, her little brother will be able to get in easily in 2 year time.

Please can you advise me:

1. How many schools can I apply on that day opening for Phase 3?
I spoke to MOE officer this morning, she told me I can apply as many as I want then wait for the result next day. But then I spoke to another expat Mom, she told me we can only apply 1 school, if we're not successful, then we will apply another school later. I'm not sure about this information.

2. I'm looking for school that my little girl doesn't stand out too much (she's mixed but her look is more Western) to avoid bully. Please advise me which local school would best fit her.

3. The government just added 9 more Primary school this year, do you think next year is better? Less competitive?

That's all I have for now. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Thanks so much.


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