Wednesday 1 July 2015

All schools are good schools?

Next week, we'll be embracing the milestone of registering Jazz for P1. For being an advantage point in phase 2A, we're pretty much cool about it. Though with a slight chance of being balloted out, I reckon it's a breezier phase than 2C.

We had very much wanted to apply in a 2B phase, but got turned down for applying to parent volunteer (PV) in a school within 2km, 2 years ago. 

I need to confess, I'm not very much close of a proximity to our 2A choice, but we aren't at 2 extreme ends of the Island too. It's not an easy decision, but I am probably not in sync with what government affirms that all schools are good schools. In my view, some schools are better.

So yeap, I've got an advantage to a school that's not too near, but looking very attractive. I know I've compromised distance, but I like the contained risk this phase gives us.

Then I will further confess, my alma mater is a girls' school. Jare will be another whole new challenge for us. We did make a little sound decision in here. Jazz doesn't do enrichment out of home, and doesn't have a strong foothold in academics. But I feel that my alma mater will give Jazz good opportunities to stretch her abilities in terms of academics and programmes.

I'm not sure if my alma mater is an elite school, but it is rather popular. I don't exactly know how parents define elite now, since MOE decided to stop announcing where top students came from.

In my alma mater, where I spent of big part of my childhood growing up, I've been very grateful to my then teachers and principal who made memorable footprints in my life. I know decades have past, and what needs to change has to change. I only hope Jazz will enjoy the best of her school days in there.

Work hard and play hard.

Most of our friends or stories we know aren't exactly calm about enrollment. If they aren't in the 2A phase, they are probably parent volunteering in schools, with a handful who joins clan and being a community leader, and several who would buy home near a potential school. The various ways that would give them a better footing to the school they set heart in. If all schools are affirmly good schools, this trend would dissolve.

Good on those who've got an attractive alma mater close to home and even more cool for those who eye a school nearby with no balloting history. We would love to be in an attractive school that's close to home as well. But set no heart within the schools near us, other than the school which rejected our PV. I didn't anticipate that. I ran out of time and was prompted to fall on plan 2A, the almost stress free phase that will save us from luck struggles. Vying for a seat in 2B or 2C isn't exactly like lucky draw, where it's easier to stay cool for not bagging anything.

I then begin to marvel at how MOE give tips on choosing a school base on:
  • Distance and
  • What programme your child is interested in?

Distance - Definitely a bonus if 2A is near my home. If not, even if there's an attractive school just next to me, do I get a good chance in? Distance is a definitely a good selection criteria, but it isn't gonna give you any good chance to the popular schools near you among many others within 1km. Staying within 1km is an advantage, but still, a risk of balloting. I will say, go for it, but manage expectations. I know how some people dislike playing with chances. PV together with the advantage of staying within 1km will definitely up their chances. 

Some areas, just don't have attractive schools within 1km. And if parents were to look beyond 1km, there's only diminishing hope. It's our unique identity when we say Singaporeans shift to get a better footing into primary schools.

And of course, if you are easy and alright with ANY schools near home, whether elite, popular, neighbourhood or new, your child will definitely get a placement not too far from home. Distance should then be your highest weight in selection. 

Or how about this? Prepare your battle early! To all couples tying the knot, buy a home near your alma mater (if you like that school) or a school you would want your future kids to be in. Before you know it, you're a parent of a 6 year old. Or you might need to do this, ask your partner which school they are from before getting attached.

Programmes - Oh, you know what, I think swimming in school A is excellent and badminton in school B is outstanding, but what? No good chance of entering at all! With most, no chance of being selected as a parent volunteer and some schools are phasing out the acceptance of volunteers too (I like this move). Looking at programmes slim my options after risk assessment and only brings me to the schools not within my options.

In reality, academics is what most parents are looking out for. And most times, our child make do with the CCA options in school, rather than choosing the niche a school offers, with no chance of getting in.

It's not exactly viable to fall on these criteria if you aren't exactly bo chap about school hunting, because they might fail you. But of course, these will be most useful tips for the choices of school you've selected without strong competition.

The hard truth at our P1 enrollment is that, multiple options aren't exactly on our hand. You want, but you can't, you volunteer, but not chosen or guaranteed. I will say, one's best bet would be the 2A phase. It looks like in generations to come, this phase will stay. And of course, if your school's at Jurong and you're staying at Pasir ris, it really is a serious matter for consideration. Or perhaps, shifting is an easier decision.

Some mention, go for open houses. Yes, do visit, if you think your options are highly possible with these schools. And if you've noticed, open houses rarely includes popular schools. That's one brilliant way to help skew parents to the least popular options.

Every family has different schooling decisions, what sounds comfortable to you, may sound insane to others. After all, we know our battles best. We know our risk tolerance at the different phases of registrations. Picture yourself into the various phases (which should usually fall into 2 categories, unless your alma mater is no more around) and checklist your most comfortable decision.

A big part helps when we learn to manage expectations. After calculating your risk level, how will you handle news of being balloted out? I may be in 2A, but I'm also preparing for a 2C phase if there's any balloting. Not one that I hope to activate, but I'm trying to manage expectation.

Unfortunately, that's how our system has shaped us on school enrollment. It's inevitable stress especially when you're not really alright with settling in ANY school. When I received news of my rejected PV 2 years ago. I felt a sudden lost!

The reality of preparing and enrolling our kids into a preferred primary school would be:
1. Send your PV request into various schools. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
2. In your PV form, you need to stand out from the many submitted. Input a unique skill or talent you think the school will benefit. That's what I've belatedly learnt about.
3. Assess your child. Will he survive the stress in elite schools? We know our child best.
4. What is your expectation of your child in an elite school and mediocre school? Being an average in an elite might send him topping in a mediocre school, and vice versa.
5. Settling in a decision that gives you peace and comfort.
6. Manage expectations. Know your battles once you've assessed the risk level in each phase.
7. If the school isn't exactly nearby, set a routine to buy more sleep! I'm looking to Mummy taxi Jazz in exchange for more sleep. It's by God's grace that we still have a car. Thankful too, that Singapore is indeed a little red dot.

Best of luck to all comrades sailing on the same P1 registration boat as us. I wish that you will get a choice of your desired school. In midst of stress, remember to enjoy the process too!


  1. I agree with you that not all gd schools are gd schools. I strongly believe that! Haha ...
    In terms of skills required in PV, it is not the uniqueness that count, basing on my PV experience. It's the availablility (in this case freelancers, SAHM/Ds, outdoor Sales personnel win hands down). Most of the time, schools need the extra pairs of hands and eyes for logistic/administrative matters.

  2. Hi Lil bookworm, nice seeing you here! Oh really, hmm... I did indicate I was a Sahm. Great knowing that, It will definitely be most useful if I plan to PV for my boy. I will double highlight that. Ha.


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