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     FrontPage Edition: Sat 26 August 2006

Easier for returning Singaporeans to go back to our schools



Singaporean parents who work abroad can look forward to easier re-entry into the local education system for their children when they return to Singapore, under the Ministry of Education¡¯s (MOE) enhanced school admission framework for returning Singaporean children.
The enhancements were first announced through MOE¡¯s reply to a parliamentary query on 3 Apr 06.
Those involving Secondary and Junior College levels will be implemented with immediate effect, while those involving the Primary levels have already been in effect from mid 2006. Annex A summarises the enhancements.
Placement into Primary Schools
Currently, Singaporean children staying overseas can register for admission to Primary 1 just like other Singaporean children.
After registration, they can apply for leave of absence from the school. A place will be reserved in the school for them until such time when they return to Singapore.
Likewise children who are already studying in our primary schools and who are following their parents overseas may apply for leave of absence and have a place reserved for them in the school.
Under the enhanced school admission framework, returning Singaporean children who are not on the Leave of Absence Scheme (LOA) may approach MOE at any time of the year for assistance to be admitted into a primary school.
MOE will offer returning Singaporean children a place in a primary school nearest to their home with vacancies at the level/s appropriate to their age cohort.
The children will not have to sit for any placement test for admission to primary schools.
However, schools may conduct assessment tests after admission to ascertain the child¡¯s current attainment level and provide the appropriate assistance to help the child settle back into schools.
Returning Singaporean children can choose not to take up the places offered by MOE. If so, they can approach other primary schools directly to seek admission with them, as is the current practice.
MOE will be happy to provide information on vacancies in schools they are interested in. The schools which they choose to approach will continue to have the discretion to decide on whether to accept their application for admission.
Placement into Secondary Schools, Junior Colleges and Millennia Institute
As with current practice, returning Singaporean children seeking admission to secondary schools may do so at any time during the year.
They can either approach the school of their choice directly, or seek assistance from MOE. They can obtain from MOE names of schools with vacancies near their home.
The secondary schools may conduct school-based placement tests to decide whether or not to admit the children based on their performance.
School Placement Exercise for Returning Singaporeans (SPERS)
In addition, MOE will conduct a centralised School Placement Exercise for Returning Singaporeans (SPERS) near the end of the year for any returning Singaporean children who wish to join schools at the beginning of the next academic year.
This will obviate the need for returning Singaporean children seeking admission to take multiple school-based tests with no certainty of getting a place.
SPERS is applicable for Secondary 1, 2, 3, and JC1 levels only as Secondary 4 and JC2 are critical years and returning Singaporean children generally would not re-join at these levels.
SPERS comprises three phases:

(i) Eligibility Phase

(ii) School Option Phase

(iii) School Posting Phase

Eligibility Phase
Under the Eligibility Phase, returning Singaporean children will sit for English and Mathematics papers.
Besides assessing literacy and numeracy skills, the papers will include questions that test reasoning and thinking skills. The use of some non-language based and non-content based items will help minimise the disadvantage currently faced by Singaporean children who would have attended overseas schools with curricula different from Singapore¡¯s.
School Option Phase
Based on their performance, the candidates will then be provided with a list of schools that they are eligible for.
This will ensure that returning Singaporean students are of similar abilities1 as the students in the school that they are admitted to.
The candidates seeking admission to secondary schools (Secondary 1 to 3) will be required to indicate a maximum of six choices.
As the number of returning Singaporean children seeking admission to JCs/MI is usually small, there is no necessity for MOE to conduct a centralised posting exercise, and thus, there will be no School Option Phase for this group.
They will only need to undergo the Eligibility Phase. Thereafter, they can approach any of the JCs/MI that they are eligible for, for direct admission.
School Posting Phase
Secondary schools will admit a small number of returning Singaporean children, over and above their planned capacity, at the School Posting Phase.
This recognises that overseas Singaporean children may have similar abilities as the local cohort in these schools, although they have been away and were thus unable to seek admission into these schools together with other Singaporean children who had taken the PSLE.
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.
The School Posting Phase will take into account the returning Singaporean children¡¯s performance at the Eligibility Phase, their school choices, and the places available in these schools.
In instances where a child may not be successfully posted to any of the schools that he has opted for, MOE will assign him a place in a secondary school with a vacancy and as near to his home as possible.
After receiving their postings, returning Singaporean children will need to complete admission procedures at the school that they had been posted to.
If they choose not to accept the posting, they can still approach another school directly to apply for admission.
The child will be admitted if the school approached is on his school eligibility list and there is a vacancy in the course that he is eligible for. Otherwise, the school has the discretion to assess the child, including setting school-based assessment tests, and decide on whether to admit the child.
1 As students in secondary schools are admitted based on their PSLE performance, the general ability of the student population in different secondary schools would differ.

Source: Press Release 25 Aug 2006

Related Article:
- Easier for returning Singaporean children to re-enter local schools

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