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How I chose my child’s Secondary school

15 Oct 2019

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Six parents share their thoughts on how they and their kids go about shortlisting their Secondary school.

Now that the PSLE has ended, the next step is selecting the kind of Secondary school that works for your child. Do they have niche programmes in STEM? A focus on the humanities, music or coding? There are many choices. We asked some parents how they pick their options.

Education is a learning journey. Even though my son could make it to the Express stream after PSLE, we decided to enrol him into N(A) in Saint Andrew’s Secondary. I had a discussion with him and we felt that this school would provide a more well-rounded education that focuses not only on academic results, but character building, which is equally important as it shapes us to be who we are, morally, for life.

  • Triston, father of Yueyi, Sec 3 

Choosing a secondary school is like house hunting – there must be a ‘feel good’ factor. Open houses are useful because my son found that he did not actually like some of the schools he had shortlisted. It is important for a child to decide for himself and choose a school he likes, as he will be spending the next four years of his life there. We also took location, CCAs and school culture into consideration.

  • Angel, mother of Ace, Sec 2

I want my child’s education to go beyond just academics. Applying through the DSA will develop my daughter’s musical abilities and help her enjoy a lifelong passion for the arts. The school we choose must provide a holistic environment where she will not just learn, but also grow and play.

  • Dennis, father of Cadee, P6

I look at whether the school’s CCA programme has a strong focus on STEM and coding, and whether the CCA clubs encourage the students to challenge themselves by taking part in competitions. Proximity [to our home] is also important, as well as its academic excellence.

  • Andy, father of Brandon, P6

I told my children they should travel no longer than one hour to their schools. I also created a framework to summarise the CCAs and curriculum formats of select schools, so they can visualise the options and make their own choices based on data. Don’t angst over the ‘best option’. Just go with the flow once a decision is made and make the best out of it.

  • Sanjay, father of Aesha, Sec 1 and Jay, Sec 2

What does the expert say?

Will your child thrive as a big fish in a small pond or vice versa? If a child is ‘stretched’ during the PSLE, he becomes a ‘puffer fish’ and may not be able to sustain in a high-performing environment. Look at performance in the context of potential and consider the child’s personality, strengths and interests. If the child is not happy in the school, he might take diminished responsibility and start blaming the parents. Parents should take the opportunity to have good conversations with their kids to understand them and allow them to have a personal stake in decision-making. 

  • Dr Yvonne Lek, psychotherapist and parent