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Greater flexibility in school admission system


The Ministry of Education will be making the following revisions to the secondary and junior college (JC) school admission system, to support a more flexible and broad-based education system:

a.  From 2005 onwards, the current conditions on Autonomous Schools' (AS) and Independent Schools' (IS) discretion on admissions will be lifted. The current cap of 5% and 10% of their Sec 1 enrolment will remain for such discretionary places.

b.  From 2006 onwards,

i.      The proportion of discretionary places for AS and IS will be increased to 10% and 20% respectively;

ii.      Discretion will be extended to other mainstream secondary schools that are able to develop niches of excellence, for up to 5% of their Sec 1 enrolment;

iii.      Discretion will also be extended to all JCs not offering the Integrated Programme, for up to 10% of their JC1 intake; and iv. Sec 1 and JC1 admissions will adopt a two-stage process, where students are selected for discretionary places based on school-based criteria first, before the central posting exercises.

These changes were announced by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ag Minister for Education, at the Committee of Supply Debate 2004.

The refinements to the school admissions system will encourage students who wish to put effort into activities they have a passion for or talent in, and not give them up early because they do not count for admission. School admission will however continue to be based on merit.

Based on a survey conducted earlier this year with over 1,200 parents, teachers and ex-students, more than 90% of each of these groups felt that we should send stronger signals to students on the importance of all-round development. The vast majority supported broadening schools' admission criteria to recognise special skills and talents aside from examination scores.


The current school admission system at the secondary and JC levels is merit-based. However, it is currently focused on single measures of academic merit - PSLE T-score for placement in secondary schools and 'O' level aggregate score for JCs1 . There is scope to give schools greater flexibility in student admission, so as to allow a more diverse range of student achievements and talents to be recognised.






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18 March 2004