Starting from the 2014 Primary One (P1) Registration Exercise, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has reserved 40 places in every school for registrants in Phases 2B and 2C. This is to ensure that our schools, especially the popular ones, remain open to children with no prior connections to the school. As a result of this change, four schools balloted in Phase 2A2 this year, but without the reservation of places in Phase 2B and 2C, there would have been fewer than 40 places in each of these schools open to students without prior connections to the school. In addition, without this 40 reserved places policy, some schools may in the future run the risk of not having any access at Phase 2B and 2C.

Home-school distance is already one key consideration during the allocation of P1 places, with priority for those who live within 1km of the school, followed by those who live between 1km and 2km from the school. As the number of children seeking admission in a particular year and the population in the area change, we seek parents’ understanding that even as we attempt to plan the location of schools and the number of vacancies carefully, it is not always possible to meet the changing number of students who will register in a particular school in a particular year. In addition, there needs to be a critical mass of students in an area before it is feasible for us to start a new school. But there will be sufficient places in schools that are within a reasonable distance of their homes. Our assessment is that the current criteria have met the needs of most parents well, and making further changes at this point would not be meaningful.

What is most important is that every pupil receives a good quality and holistic education, regardless of which school he or she attends. Therefore, we have been resourcing all our schools with well-trained teachers, high-quality education facilities and rigorous school programmes and will continue to do so. This is part of our commitment to make every school a good school, so that we can meet the educational needs of all children in Singapore.

Our ground feedback has been that the recent changes in our primary one registration framework and our outreach to parents on the programmes of schools in their neighbourhood have been met with good response from parents. We are pleased to see more parents taking the time to visit schools during open houses and to understand the programmes of the schools. They take the effort to see for themselves the quality of education provided in these schools. So let us continue our efforts in this direction.