Most parents would be cautious about sending their children to a new primary school with no track record.
So Alexandra Primary, which opens only next year, surprised many by holding a ballot in this year's Primary 1 registration. One of the school's draws, said parents and observers, is its principal Madam Chua Bee Lay, the current head of the popular Maha Bodhi School.
Her deputy will be the vice-principal of CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' Primary, Ms Chan Yan Hoon. At West Spring Primary in Bukit Panjang, another new school which opens next year, all its 210 places have been filled.
The school will be helmed by Mrs Jacinta Lim, who has been principal of Yangzheng Primary for six years. Some parents who enrolled their children in the school have noted how Yangzheng's popularity in Serangoon has grown under her watch.
"I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest shown," said Mrs Lim, who added that she hopes to use her experience of leading Yangzheng to "jump-start" the new school, such as by introducing play-based learning initiatives. She also plans to play an active role in thehiring of teachers by handpicking a "committed team" carefully.
These anecdotes underscore how having senior and well-regarded principals can help raise the profile of heartland schools.
The latest shuffle announced last Friday by the Education Ministry saw experienced principals, including Mrs Lim and Madam Chua, appointed to lead schools in the heartland from next year. Others include Mr Richard Lim, principal of Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) for nine years, who will move to Si Ling Primary in Woodlands. Mr Lim previously served as principal of Henry Park Primary for seven years.
In a Facebook post on Sunday night, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said the rotation is one of the ways through which his ministry hopes to make "every school a good school" by transferring and spreading good practices. Parents and observers said the ministry's move will help lesser-known schools level up in terms of standards and visibility.