I’m not going to lie. Registering your child for Primary 1 is a tricky needle to thread if you are Singaporean. For non-Singaporeans, the process is confusing and overwhelming in the extreme. There have been moments where the relatively straightforward process of registering a child at an international school in exchange for an extortionate amount of money has had appeal. I owe my Singaporean friends–especially K and P–a huge debt of gratitude for explaining things to me and providing a great deal of moral support. Once this is over we’re getting the biggest bottle of wine ever made to toast our survival and successful registration of our daughters in Primary 1.
- The process has undergone changes in 2013 and 2014, so you’ll need to read the MOE page for the most up to date information.
- This process is addressing registering a Primary 1 child ONLY. I don’t know anything about registering an older child–talk to the MOE
- This is my experience–yours may differ
The most important thing you need to understand before you can think about registering your child is that there are phases. Which phase you register in will impact where your child can attend school. If you are an expat who does not hold PR, you are in Phase 3. Period. Even if it is your second/third/etc child in the SG school system. I’m saying this now to get it out of the way.
Phases of Registration
Phase 1–Siblings of current students
- This only applies to you if you are a citizen or PR with a child already in a Singaporean Public School.
- It is only applicable if you want your second/third/etc child to attend the same school. There are some single sex schools, so if your older child is at a boys school, your daughter is out of luck.
Phase 2(a) 1–Will not apply to you
- This is for children of alumni of the primary school who are members of the alumni association and for children of members of the School Advisory/Management Association.
Phase 2(a)2–Will not apply to you
- Younger siblings of former students at that primary school (ex–if kid #1 is in secondary school when kid #2 is enrolling in P1)
- Children of alumni who aren’t members of the alumni association
- Children of teachers at that school
Phase 2B–Children of volunteers/members of the church/endorsed community leaders
- If you are a PR, you may apply to be a volunteer at your primary school of choice when your child is in K1 and complete 40 (some schools require 80) hours of volunteer service between July 1 of the K1 year and July 1 of the K2 year. You must have already been accepted by July 1 of the K1 year or you will not be eligible. Keep in mind that this may not ensure your child a place and you may still end up balloting (see below)
- Some public schools are religious and affiliated with a specific church. I’m an atheist, so you’ll need to talk to your church to find out if this applies to you.
- I don’t know what an endorsed community leader is, but I suspect that PR’s don’t get endorsed for this
Phase 2C—This is where most PR’s will fall
- Whatever seats aren’t taken up in the earlier phases are released in phase 2C. As of 2014, every school must hold back 40 seats for phase 2C
- The priority order for seats are
- Singaporeans who live less than 1km from the school according to OneMap
- Singaporeans who live between 1 and 2 km from the school according to OneMap
- All other Singaporean Citizens
- Permanent Residents who live less than 1km from the school according to OneMap
- Permanent Residents who live between 1 and 2 km from the school according to OneMap
- All other Permanent Residents in Singapore
Phase 2C supplementary–For Citizens and PR’s who have failed to secure a seat prior to this and still need one.
- If you applied to a school in 2C that held balloting and you did not get a seat, this is your second chance. Order of priority is as above.
Phase 3–For Expats who do not hold PR and want their children to attend a Singapore Public School
The tool used to determine your distance from a school is OneMap.
Enter your address in the box to zero in on your building. Keep zoomed in on your building–you’ll need that in a minute.
Click on Services, then School Query.
It will give you a question mark–drag it and click on your building. The map will then zoom out and give you all the schools in 1 and 2 km. This is the way the MOE will determine where your home is in relation to the schools you’re applying to.
You’ve seen me mention balloting several times now. If a school has more applicants than available seats (oversubscribed), they will conduct a lottery (balloting) for those seats.
School A has 50 available seats
- SC within 1 km–10 applicants
- SC within 2 km–15 applicants
- SC outside 2 km–10 applicants
- PR within 1 km–10 applicants
- PR within 2 km–20 applicants
- PR outside 2 km–10 applicantsExample…Your school has 50 seats.
There are 75 applicants for 50 seats.
- Citizens make up 35 of the 75 applicants, and will all be admitted.
There are 15 seats for the PR applicants.
- The 10 PR applicants within 1km will all be admitted
This leaves 5 seats for 30 applicants. The school is now oversubscribed and will conduct balloting
- The 20 applicants who are PR’s living between 1 and 2km will be entered into a lottery and 5 will be given seats. The other 15 will be rejected and have to find another school
- The 10 applicants who are PR’s living outside 2 km will be rejected.