Saw this article on the straits times today (am going to copy and paste the entire thing cause I think you’d otherwise need ST accounts to view the whole article)
MOE relooking Primary 1 registration scheme
The Ministry of Education is understood to be studying how to improve the Primary 1 registration scheme, which has been criticised for giving too much priority to children with connections to the school.
It revealed the move in a letter to a school administration manager, who wrote to it late last year suggesting changes to the scheme.
In the ministry’s letter, made public in an online teachers’ forum, an official said the ministry was ‘studying various options to improve the P1 registration framework’.
How it currently works
Phase 1: For a child who has a sibling currently in the school. All children registered under this phase will be given places in the schools of their choice.
Phase 2A(1): For a child whose parent is a former pupil of the school and has joined the alumni association, or is a member of the school’s advisory committee.
Phase 2A(2): For a child whose parent is a staff member of the school, or whose parent or sibling has studied there. At the end of Phase 2A(2), half of the remaining places in schools will be allocated for Phase 2B and the other half for Phase 2C.
Phase 2B: For a child whose parent is a volunteer and has put in at least 40 hours of voluntary service to the school or who is a member of the church or clan association connected with it. This phase also applies to a child whose parent is an active community leader.
Phase 2C: For a child who is ineligible for or unsuccessful in earlier phases.
Phase 3: For a child who is not a Singapore citizen or a permanent resident.
If there are excess applications during each phase, admissions are then made based on how close the child lives to the school. Children living within a 1km radius of the school are given priority, followed by those within 2km.
If there is balloting in any of the phases, Singaporeans will get two ballot slips while permanent residents get one.
She also said any changes may take some time to be studied and implemented, as suggestions from various groups would have to be considered carefully.
She added that the scheme aims to allocate school places according to a set of fair and transparent criteria that are in the child’s educational interests.
Asked about this on Wednesday, the ministry said it reviews the P1 registration framework regularly, taking into consideration public feedback.
A spokesman added that the system was last changed in 2010 to give Singaporean citizens priority over permanent residents. The Primary 1 registration scheme underwent a major revamp in 1999 to give greater priority to parents who are active in schools.
Former students who joined their schools’ alumni associations were given priority over other old boys and girls when it came to getting their children into the school. Parent volunteers had to serve a minimum of 40 hours to qualify.
There are six phases in the registration process, with siblings of children already in a school getting top priority. Next come the children of alumni, parent volunteers or those with church or clan connections.
They are followed by all Singaporeans and permanent residents, with non-citizens last in the pecking order. If any phase is oversubscribed, priority is given to those who live nearby.
Parents have complained that the later stages often end up with more applicants than available places.
Last year, close to half of Singapore’s 173 primary schools had to hold ballots and there were children who could not get into schools near their homes.
Others have complained that the scheme is unfairly weighted in favour of alumni – some of whom may not play an active role in the school – and those with church or clan connections.
Some parents want more places allocated to Phase 2C, for those without any ties to the school. Others want the ministry to stop giving priority to any group, and open all places to a ballot.
But the loudest calls have been to give priority to children living closest to the school of their choice.
Two years ago, two MPs raised this suggestion in Parliament, saying that they knew of children who could not get into schools very near their homes.
At the time, the ministry said it would not change the rule as those who live within 1km of the school are already given priority. It said guaranteeing places to those who live very close by would place unnecessary constraints on the system.
Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, on Wednesday agreed that the phase prioritising alumni does not distinguish between parents who contribute to the school and those who are ‘sleeping members’ who merely joined the alumni association.
‘That’s something that the ministry should look at to make it a fairer system,’ he said.
Six out of eight parents interviewed on Wednesday supported any move to review the scheme.
Business executive Zachary Teo, 40, said he moved to Serangoon North to be close to popular Rosyth School, but he was not sure that his two children would get in.
‘It will be ridiculous if I can’t get a place at Rosyth and have to send my son by school bus to a school in Ang Mo Kio or Hougang,’ he said.
Can’t quite seem to grasp the concept of parents volunteering at a school so that their children will get a spot in it. Or moving to Serangoon North just so your kids can go to rosyth. All mind-blowing facts, that real people actually do! When I graduated from rosyth I was pretty sure that if I had kids, they would go there. Now that is a big ‘if’ to begin with, but I checked the rosyth webpage to see what they had to say about all this and the P1 Registration statistics show that they don’t start balloting in the phase I would be applicable for, i.e. 2A2 (of which there is a pretty substantial pool of applicants compared to 2A1, that is, parents who are alumni but can’t be bothered/are not that desperate to be parent volunteers lol). It’s crazy! In Phase 2B, parents join the school as a parent volunteer without even having children in the school or being alum! They have nothing better to do? No wonder that enlightened chinese dude said 在新加坡狗比人多, a sentiment I completely agree with.
Ultimately I really only want to send my kid there because of the great memories I had there and friendships that were forged for life. But I don’t think the school really matters in things like these. If you’re bright, you’re bright, and if you’re not, well, no one can polish a turd.