Primary 1 registration is a nail-biting time for kiasu parents islandwide—especially those who don’t want their kid to end up in some neighbourhood primary school, and insist that they go to schools that are affiliated to elite secondary schools.
Other than the kiasu parents who do grassroots work in order to get priority primary 1 registration, there are those who go as far as to purchase property near these so-called good schools so their kids can get in more easily.
But is sending your kid to an elite primary school really worth all this time and money? Here are some factors parents might want to consider.
Ease of getting into an affiliated secondary school
Elite primary schools that are affiliated to a secondary school give kids a higher chance of getting into the latter. In fact, the cut off point for students from affiliated schools can be as many as 40 points lower. This means that some of the kids who get into elite schools from an affiliated primary school would be going to neighbourhood schools if they had gone to a non-affiliated primary school.
Higher academic standards
Let’s forget about the “every school is a good school” slogan for a moment. While we’re not saying elite primary schools necessarily provide a more positive environment for their students, they do tend to have higher academic standards. Just take a look at the sample PSLE prelim papers of, say, RGPS and it’s obvious the schools are under pressure to produce top scorers. For kids who can’t keep up, this isn’t exactly a good thing.
Elite primary schools are also mostly populated by kids from an upper middle class, English-speaking background, which means the children tend to be surrounded by others who are relatively fluent in the language. This can be advantageous for a pupil’s linguistic development.
Better networking opportunities
Due to the fact that elite school populations have more pupils with upper middle class backgrounds, some parents send their kids to such schools in order to ensure they’re mixing with the “right” company and building a valuable network that will help them later on in life.
Frankly speaking, this is probably more applicable in secondary school and JC than it is in primary school. In elite primary schools, most of the kids tend to move on to the affiliated secondary school, and don’t tend to keep in contact with those who leave for other schools. So a lot hinges on whether a child moves on to the affiliated secondary school.
It’s the family environment, not the primary school, that matters most
Some parents think that if their kids get into a “good” school full of smart, well-behaved kids, the exemplariness of their classmates will somehow rub off on them. Well, sorry to break it to you, but at primary school level the most important factor is still family environment.
A child born to well-educated parents who have strong language skills and create a conducive home not just for study but also for creativity and curiosity will come out on top of a child from a disruptive home, no matter which primary school either goes to. It’s also worth noting that there are many PSLE top scorers from neighbourhood primary schools.
Closer to home
Elite primary schools tend to have students who live all over, some coming from as far as Johor Bahru on the yellow bas sekolah. Because it’s a so-called good school, parents are willing to make their kids suffer a longer commute, even if it means waking up at freaking 4am.
On the other hand, those who simply send their kids to the nearest primary school to their home don’t need to worry about transport as their kids can walk to school or take the bus a few stops. More sleep, more time = happy kid.
After the PSLE, when students are sorted into secondary schools according to their PSLE scores, diversity takes a big hit, as all the high-scoring students get lumped together into elite schools, while those who don’t perform as well are sorted into streams.
But at primary school level, the student body at neighbourhood schools is still fairly diverse, with pupils from all types of family backgrounds. By contrast, elite primary schools tend to be display a lot less diversity, with a sometimes overwhelmingly upper middle class student body.
Those parents who think it’s more important for their children to get to know people from all walks of life would do well to send them to neighbourhood primary schools. You’re also less likely to be asked by your kid why he’s the only one in the class without an iPhone.
The competition can be fierce at elite primary schools. Many of these kids’ parents can afford to send them for tons of tuition, and extracurriculars like piano and tennis are very common. Even CCAs tend to be more competitive, as top primary schools often try to groom their students for competitions.
In addition, many elite primary schools have the habit of setting exam papers that are much more difficult than PSLE standard. Kiasu parents think this will help their kids do better academically, but those who can’t keep up can end up suffering debilitating stress and might end up doing even worse in the PSLE.
Do you want your kids to go to an elite primary school? Tell us why or why not in the comments!