Parents and school principals welcomed the changes in the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme, with one saying it would help to "democratise schools beyond the usual names".
Evergreen Secondary School principal Carol Lim said: "The public will be encouraged to learn the skills and strengths of all schools, not just certain schools that have built certain names in certain areas."
Mrs Lim said it would be good for everyone to be more curious of schools in the neighbourhood.
"They can appreciate that every school is a growing and good school," she added.
Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng yesterday announced the expansion of DSA places in secondary schools, the removing of general academic tests and streamlining of DSA applications.
Tanjong Katong Girls' School principal Mary Seah said the expansion has sent a "strong message" for students to pursue their dreams and non-academic talents "without fear".
Queensway Secondary School principal Benjamin Lui felt the changes "reflected the move away from merely looking at academic achievement".
Madam Choo Pheh Fun, 44, was happy to hear the changes as she is planning for her son, 10, to enter secondary school through DSA in sports.
She said: "I am glad more places are reserved for students to qualify through DSA. This may encourage parents to develop their children in other areas instead of solely academics."
The mother of three said her daughters, aged 13 and 15, entered secondary school through DSA in gymnastics, and her son is trying out different sports to find a niche he can use for DSA.
"It is a good thing because there are more places for DSA students... But parents may also become more competitive and push their children to excel in sports because there are more places," she said.
Changes to affiliation in schools
Non-affiliated students hoping to enter affiliated schools will soon stand a higher chance.
From the 2019 Secondary 1 Posting Exercise, 20 per cent of places for each course in affiliated schools will be reserved for students with no affiliation, said Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng. He was responding to Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Mr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) in Parliament yesterday.
Currently, 27 secondary schools offer pupils from affiliated primary schools priority in Secondary 1 posting, provided they list the school as their first choice. This is to foster a strong school spirit and tradition.
Setting aside a fifth of places annually would "strike a balance between recognising affiliation and ensuring open access for all students", he said.
Pastor Dev Menon, 38, whose eight-year-old son is in Saint Andrew's Junior School, hopes to enrol him in Saint Andrew's Secondary School. He is not worried by the increase in places for non-affiliates because "80 per cent of places for affiliated students is still pretty high".
Read also: Academic ability tests to be scrapped
This article was first published on March 8, 2017.
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