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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 7 Apr 2006

Easier for returning Singaporean children to re-enter local schools


Returning Children Placement

Parliamentary Replies - 3 Apr 2006
Dr Amy Khor Lean Suan, MP for Hong Kah GRC
To ask the Minister for Education
(a) how many children of returning Singaporeans seek placement in primary and secondary schools each year for the last five years; and
(b) whether steps are being taken to make it easier for these Singaporeans to place their children in schools.
The number of returning Singaporean children seeking the Ministry¡¯s assistance for placement into our schools had remained fairly constant at about 130 cases for primary schools and about 115 cases for secondary schools each year from 2001 to 2004.
Last year, more students chose to return to Singapore and enter our schools. The number increased to about 220 cases for primary schools and 210 cases for secondary schools in 2005.
Currently, MOE has in place a number of measures to help Singaporean children who are overseas or returning home find a suitable place in our schools.
For a start, we help returning Singaporean children entering primary one the following year to participate in the annual Primary One Registration Exercise at the same time as other local Singaporeans. They need not be physically in Singapore.
The parents can either appoint a proxy to register on their behalf or they can indicate their choices to MOE and we will act on their behalf.
Once the child is registered with a school, they can apply for Leave of Absence Scheme if they are not returning to Singapore in time to start school the following year.
We will reserve the child¡¯s place in that school until the child returns to Singapore.
Similarly, students who are in secondary school but need to leave Singapore can have their places reserved for their return under the Leave of Absence Scheme.
For Singaporean children who have not participated in the Primary 1 registration or have not had a place reserved for them, the Ministry provides a one-stop service by helping them identify schools with vacancies near their home.
The child would then have to sit for and pass the school¡¯s placement test. The test enables the school to know if the child has the required education level to fit into the school cohort, and also enables the school to determine the appropriate level the child should be placed into.
However, this does mean that returning Singaporean children often have to approach a few schools and to sit for several school-based placement tests. This mechanism can be improved.
Improved Mechanism
MOE will put in place three improvements to make re-entry into the local education system friendlier.
This will give Singaporeans who work abroad more reassurance and help encourage citizens to venture abroad, knowing that it will not be a problem for their children to re-enter our schools.
The admission of returning Singaporeans will also enrich the school environment, and benefit all our students.
First, at the primary school level, MOE will do away with the need for placement tests for returning Singaporean children seeking placement.
Instead MOE will identify a primary school nearest to their home with vacancies and offer a place to the child. We will implement this by the middle of this year.
With this system, parents will no longer need to go around searching for a primary school place. However, parents will still have the flexibility to seek school places for their children on their own, if they wish.
Second, at the secondary school level, MOE will also do away with the need for returning Singaporean children to sit for multiple school-based tests.
Instead, MOE will develop a Centralised Placement Test (CPT) to provide a common yardstick. MOE will conduct a posting exercise to allocate returning Singaporean children to schools, based on their school choices and their results in the CPT, subject to available vacancies.
As with primary schools, parents and students will have the flexibility to seek admission to any other schools, if they are not keen on accepting the places allocated to them by MOE.
In such cases, a student will be evaluated separately by the school he approaches, based on his CPT results as well as any other merit-based criteria set by the school.
Third, MOE will allow secondary schools to admit a small number of returning Singaporean students, over and above their planned capacity.
This is to recognise that Singaporean children who are overseas are unable to seek admission at the same time as those who are in Singapore and thus may miss out on attending a school of their choice, even though they are well-qualified to do so.
This change will not reduce the chances for students in Singapore to get into the school of their choice as there will be no reduction in the number of school places available to them as a result of this change. Instead, we will allow for a few additional places to cater to the needs of returning Singaporeans. All students will still be admitted on merit.
Details of the CPT and the posting system will be announced later.
With these new measures, Singaporeans will find it easier to return and re-integrate into our schools. Further, in addition to these improved local school admission procedures, families who have been overseas for some time also continue to have the option of seeking approval for admission to a foreign school in Singapore.

Source: News Release 3 Apr 2006

Related Article:

     -  Easier for returning Singaporeans to go back to our schools

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