Thursday 4 April 2024

DSA for secondary schools - To apply, or not?

What is Direct School Admission (DSA-Sec)?

Primary 6 students seeking admission to certain secondary schools based on their talent in sports, Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs) and specific academic areas. 

When many asked if we would DSA (Direct School Admission) our daughter 3 years ago, during her P6 year, I replied, 'maybe Not' or 'Unlikely'. She was, and is still doing Rhythmic gymnastics. When it was during the DSA period in May, I did so for the daughter! I've learnt to not leave out this option especially when it's a sport they are determined to commit through the next 4 years in secondary. 

Last year, when friends asked if we would DSA the son, I took on a less humble opinion that we will go for it. We were determined to do so for a few reasons:

Peace of mind
I will not deny that having a DSA spot secured gives a peace of mind. Not that your child does not have to work hard, but stress level can be largely reduced. 

School Choices
It doesn't have to be the top school choices, but we had wanted one that the son will thrive and possibly do well in a not too bad secondary school.

Inconsistent academics
The son demonstrated very inconsistent results in his p5 and p6 years. I got worried, and felt that a DSA offer would relieve us much. That being said, do assess your child's academic ability, and plan to DSA into the schools that matches his/her caliber. 

Secondary CCA option
CCA options in secondary is not as liberal as it is in primary school. The number of intake for each sport is capped at a firm number in many schools. They do not take in recreational players. That is, schools only have the resources and vacancies for competitive players, with NSG (National School Games) in mind. With this in place, it's only natural that the team begins their selection of team members during DSA. Any leftover spots, if any, will be opened to students who trialed for the CCA during school's CCA trial week. 

Here's our story with the son. 
We applied to 3 schools, went for 3 trials, did 2 interviews, but was offered 0. One school even took the approach to text us on our interest level before an interview came up. That was when we felt hope. But after all the interviews closed, we heard through the grapevine that spots for most schools have been verbally offered. We received no phone call. I continued holding onto hope until the written confirmations came. That was when we knew we had zero offer confirmed. I was disheartened, but not devastated. Perhaps, we were not well prep enough during the interview. Wait, how did it feel like I'm the one going through these?! I mean of course, DSA is just another role in the PSLE journey, all is not done deal if no offer comes. One day, while driving, God comforted me. He reminded me about on holding onto faith and hope until the very end, and that it's not the end. But... "that was the end." I debated within.

Of course, I told the son, not that he's not a good player, but that badminton is an extremely competitive sport with better players out there. Let me front you this, badminton is an extremely popular sport for DSA. But if that is what your child loves, so be it and trial for it! Passion over everything else. 

Here's the sequel. The day he received his PSLE results, he did better than we all expected! Which means, he had a wider school options than we had initially narrowed. We shortlisted listed schools that offer badminton as CCA, as well as, finding out if they have allocated vacancies for talents who did not DSA. We knew this meant a chance, even if it was a very slim one. We managed our expectations while firming on our first school choice. That year, many schools' cut off points were adjusted down, a lower AL score was required for most schools. It wasn't one we expected, but we're glad to be allocated the first school choice.  

Photo credit: Singapore Swimming Club
During the first parents meet session in school earlier this year, we were informed that badminton had 7 spots. And through word of mouth, the son found out that there were only 2 spots given to talented students during the trial. Possibly the DSA spots offered, but not taken. My heart sank. I mean if my son was that talented, he would have been accepted through DSA. Ironically, this is the school that he didn't make it through, to the interview. 

In the name of hope and determination, he went for the trial. And of course, you should cast the net wider by going for other CCA trials, which he did. Lo and behold, he made it through the trial and was shortlisted to join their team! It was a smashing journey to emerge as top 2 among the 70 students whom came for trial. We celebrated and learnt the true meaning of holding onto faith and hope till the very end. We're very thankful for this ordeal and the son had learnt so much through it.
And of course, how he ranks among those who have gotten in via DSA, or whether he eventually gets to play at the NSG (National School Games) will be another story to tell. There are two levels in C division games, secondary 1 and 2. In the game of badminton, the whole of C division requires only 7 players. Which translates that, there will definitely be some as reserves sitting by the bench. This is one that parents need to manage expectations on. 

So, to DSA or not? I will say unless you are ready to not get your most desired CCA, you should give it a go! And of course, one should know what DSA entails, as well as the commitment involved once accepted.

To all P6-ers this year, all the best in your DSA decision and journey! 

1 comment :

  1. Your sentiments resonated with me. I feel that DSA is not a good system at all. It just makes every thing so much more competitive! Why so stress..why can't kids just enjoy the sports they want. Sianz much. But we do what we can and GOD will plan and His plan is always the best. So I always use this favorite quote of mine. You will bloom where God plants you - DSA or not.


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