Selecting a secondary school - grades and other considerations

Lynne Tan, an ex-secondary school teacher, contributed this series to provide parents another perspective to selecting a school for their child. She is currently working as a consultant in one of Singapore’s leading character development consultancy firms.

AS YOU HEAVE a sigh of relief and are about to get ready to attack the spa after the long-drawn PSLE preparation with your child, you are hijacked!

The neighbour you bumped into this morning has managed to create some anxiety by showing you the to-do list for secondary school selection followed by her endless advice on the must-dos should the child not achieve the T-score required. Yes, it looks to you the beginning of a new round to more stress!

It is every parent’s desire to have their child placed in the ‘best’ or ‘top’ school. What then constitutes a top school given Singapore’s worldwide recognition for its educational infrastructure? While the path to tertiary education is getting more challenging in Singapore, have you ever considered that the neighbourhood school that your friends shy away from could just possibly help your child attain a seat in the desired varsity if he so demonstrates his will to work hard and is supported appropriately?

'Top’ schools

The scramble to get into a top school is strictly based on academic performance. The posting process based on data provided at various sections on the MOE site would have made your selection rather straightforward. Just focus on the grades and match it to the school’s historical T-score cut-off point. Of course, there is the Direct School Admission Programme (DSA) which has increasingly become an important helpline to students who are more able in the fields of the sports and arts. Still, this is also based on performance. The fundamental principle remains unchanged – only the best will win!

Other considerations

Then again, is winning only determined by the grades alone? Could we have over-simplified the school selection process, by reducing considerations of the impact of the environment, its influences on the child over a season especially the times when he is most vulnerable?

In this multipart feature, we deal with a few key factors on school selection normally not shared or spoken about but in our view, important considerations nonetheless, as the selected school will play a critical influence on a crucial period of your child’s development.

Related articles

School selection - Culture
School selection - Principal’s management style
School selection - Teacher development

Direct School Admission (DSA-Sec): Building areas of excellence

Open house in secondary schools