BALLOTING in the latest stage of Primary 1 registration ended yesterday with 86 schools filling more than half of their available places.
Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), for instance, has 30 out of 240 spots left, while Singapore Chinese Girls' Primary School has 28 out of 200 places remaining.
They are among nine popular schools - such as Ai Tong and Catholic High in Bishan, Radin Mas Primary in Bukit Merah, and Rosyth in Serangoon - that have more than 80 per cent of their total places for next year's intake snapped up.
Twenty-eight out of 187 primary schools were oversubscribed and had to hold a ballot under Phase 2B - the fourth of seven registration stages - for children whose parents are school volunteers, grassroots leaders, or have church or clan links.
The 40 hours spent volunteering at Hong Wen School paid off for Mr Alan Liew when his six-year-old daughter got a place after yesterday's ballot. The school in Bendeemer had 56 children vying for 47 spots.
"There were so many people inside the balloting area, parents and even grandparents," said Mr Liew, a 38-year-old trader.
"In the last year, my wife and I did various activities like helping children cross the road, putting on makeup for pupils' performances and helping out at the school's Sports Day.
"As we did volunteer work at the school, we found out more about it and we like its focus on Chinese values. It's also within 1km of our home," he said.
Many other parents, however, had their hopes dashed.
One father, who declined to be named, was disappointed when his daughter failed to get a place at Kong Hwa School, where 43 children were vying for 33 spots.
"My wife and I did almost 100 hours of volunteer work at the school, which is about 200m away from our home, and it's really wasted," he said. "There were two sets of twins at the ballot, and they took up two extra seats. The system is unfair; they should just open up two more slots instead of depriving another two children from other families of a place in the school."
This year, parents hoping to clinch a spot in hot favourites such as Henry Park Primary in the next stage, Phase 2C, may stand a greater chance because of a new rule that ensures more places for children in the later stages.
Phase 2C, which starts next Wednesday, is for children with no ties to the schools.
The rule introduced by the Education Ministry this year requires all primary schools to reserve 40 places to be split equally in Phases 2B and 2C.
This has resulted in more spots in some popular schools. For instance, Henry Park Primary, which had only eight vacancies under Phase 2C last year, has 21 slots this year.
Ai Tong, which had seven spots under the same phase last year, has 30 this year.
CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School and Nan Hua Primary have 20 and 21 places respectively for Phase 2C this year, up from 12 and 15 last year.
Phase 2C is known as the most competitive round as it is open to the most number of children - those ineligible under the four earlier phases, which are for those with connections to a particular school.
Last year, 90 schools held a ballot at this stage.
This article was first published on Jul 26, 2014.
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