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Singapore

Primary 1 places reserved for Phase 2C will double to 40, changes include revised priority for alumni members

The changes will apply from the 2022 Primary 1 registration exercise.

SINGAPORE: The number of places reserved under Phase 2C of the Primary 1 registration exercise will double from 20 to 40 from next year.

Phase 2B will continue to have 20 reserved places, while Phase 2A1 and 2A2 will be combined into a single phase. 

Announcing this on Thursday (Sep 9), the Ministry of Education (MOE) said it is committed to ensuring that mainstream schools remain accessible to children of all backgrounds, "while preserving strong ties to
the community and culture that our schools have built up over the years".

MOE had announced earlier this year that it will review the registration framework to possibly increase the number of places available under Phase 2C. 

The changes will apply from the 2022 registration exercise, for children who are starting Primary 1 in 2023.

MORE PLACES IN PHASE 2C

Phase 2C, for children with no ties to a school, is usually the most competitive phase. Priority is distance-based, given first to Singaporeans living within 1km of the school. 

In this year's registration exercise, 64 schools - or about one in three schools - went to ballot in Phase 2C for Singaporeans living within 1km of the school, said MOE. This is an increase from one in four schools in the 2014 registration exercise. 

Phase 2B, which is for children of parent volunteers or parents affiliated to the related church or clan, will continue to have 20 reserved places. 

This means that with the new framework, there will be a total of 60 places set aside in each school for Phase 2B and 2C at the start of the Primary 1 registration exercise.

If there are vacancies left from earlier phases, one-third will be allocated to Phase 2B and two-thirds to Phase 2C. 

The increase in Phase 2C slots will “especially benefit” about half of the 64 primary schools that went to ballot in the 2021 registration exercise, said MOE, as these schools had 40 or fewer applicants in this phase. 

“The P1 registration framework has a long legacy. Many stakeholders are involved and they all hold diverse views. If there is one clear conclusion from our review, it is that there’s really no perfect option that will satisfy everyone, because simply giving more places for one group means fewer places for another group,” said the ministry at a media briefing on Thursday. 

“In that sense, the P1 exercise is a zero-sum exercise.” 

COMBINED PHASE 2A

From the 2022 registration exercise, Phases 2A1 and 2A2 will be combined into a single Phase 2A, MOE announced. 

Phase 2A1 was for children whose parents are alumni of the school and had joined the alumni association as a member not later than Jun 30 of the year before the Primary 1 registration. Children whose parents are a member of the school advisory or management committee also fall under this phase. 

Phase 2A2 was for children whose parents or siblings previously studied in the school, or whose parents are staff members of the school. Children from the MOE Kindergarten located within the primary school also qualify to register under this phase. 

Explaining the decision to combine the two phases, MOE noted that the priority for alumni members in Phase 2A1 was introduced in the 1999 Primary 1 registration exercise “to encourage stronger alumni and community support” for schools.

“Over time, more stakeholders such as former students and alumni associations have been actively contributing in their own ways to the schools. It is timely to review the fine differentiation of priority between stakeholders in Phases 2A1 and 2A2,” the ministry said in its press release. 

With more reserved places in Phase 2C, there will be fewer places in the earlier phases, said MOE.

"We expect that several schools would end up with relatively few or even no places left for Phase 2A2 registrants, if we continue to maintain the differentiation of priority between Phase 2A1 and Phase 2A2 registrants," it added.

The move will also “better achieve” the objective of providing priority admission to MOE Kindergarten children, the media release stated. 

The ministry studied this “very carefully”, MOE added at the briefing.

“We need to understand the implications that will happen when we double the Phase 2C reserved places. And the impact would be particularly hard on Phase 2A2 registrants with quite a number of schools going straight from Phase 2A1 to 2B. Essentially, they skip Phase 2A2 because there will be zero vacancies in Phase 2A2 for these schools,” the ministry said. 

“This means that the Phase 2A2 group won't get to exercise their priority at all. We felt that the right thing to do is therefore to merge Phase 2A1 and 2A2 into a single merged Phase 2A. This will spread out the impact a little bit more equitably, and it is also a small step to try to simplify our P1 registration framework from seven phases to six phases.” 

HOME-SCHOOL DISTANCE 

The Education Ministry will also update how it calculates home-school distance, which is used as a tie-breaker in each phase when a school has more applicants than places. The three categories are: Within 1km of the school, within 1km to 2km of the school and outside 2km of the school. 

The distance is currently calculated from a single reference point based on the school’s original building layout, to the child’s registered address, even if the current school building layout has changed significantly, said MOE. 

From 2022, home-school distance will be calculated based on the school land boundary, or any point on the boundary around the school to the child’s registered address. 

The school land boundary is “much less likely” to change over time. This change will result in a “slightly larger coverage” of residential addresses within 1km and 2km for all primary schools, said the Education Ministry. 

“We believe this is a fairer way to draw these lines, but we are mindful that this change will potentially lead to slightly more registrants, roughly about 10 per cent more registrants on average, recategorised from a further home-school distance to a nearer home-school distance category,” said MOE at the briefing on Thursday. 

“To alleviate any concerns over there being slightly more competition for places in the more popular schools for each home-school distance category, we therefore felt that it would be helpful to time this home-school distance change with the doubling of Phase 2C reserved places.” 

Most parents and children applying to primary schools will not be affected by the changes, and some may find themselves now nearer to the school, said MOE in the press release. 

But for three primary schools - Cedar Primary School, Maris Stella High School (primary section) and Marymount Convent School - some applicants will be shifted to a further distance category. 

This is because the original reference points are outside the school land boundary due to “significant” past upgrading or rebuilding works, alongside school boundary changes, said the Education Ministry. 

This affected group will be allowed to retain their original home-school distance for the 2022 Primary 1 registration exercise as a one-off arrangement, it added. 

Commenting on the changes, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the Primary 1 registration framework has to balance “various considerations”, which include giving children convenient access to a school near their homes, keeping the society open and inclusive, as well as recognising the efforts of the community like school alumni.

“As our society evolves, we will have to fine-tune the registration framework to balance these considerations. In recent years, we’ve observed that the number of students that can access a school near their homes without affiliation has declined,” Mr Chan added. 

“We hope that all of us will support these changes to ensure that our schools remain accessible, open and inclusive.” 

Source: CNA/hw(gs)

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