Half of spots in popular heartland schools may be taken

Parents hoping to secure a place in popular neighbourhood schools for their children can expect up to half of the places on offer to be filled after the first phase of Primary 1 registration.

This is because more and more parents, instead of aiming for a brand- name institution at a later phase, are opting for the convenience and increasing quality of heartland schools.

This year's Primary 1 registration exercise kicks off next week with Phase 1, which guarantees a place for siblings of children already enrolled in a school.

Going by previous years, a third of the 40,000 places will be taken up by the end of this phase. But when it comes to popular neighbourhood schools, such as Sengkang's North Vista Primary and West Grove Primary in Jurong West, the number can be as high as 50 per cent.

Last year, 118 spots at North Vista Primary - more than half the 210 vacancies - were filled in Phase 1, up from 70 out of 270 in the year before.

At West Grove Primary, 138 of 270 spots were taken up last year, compared with 111 the previous year.

Parents such as Madam Mary Sim, 38, point to their growing confidence in neighbourhood schools and convenience as the biggest pull factors.

Madam Sim, who intends to enrol her son Darren in North Vista which her elder child attends, said: "My husband was an old boy of Anglo-Chinese School so I can put my son there.

"But it doesn't make sense as it is a long bus ride away from our home in Hougang. Besides, my daughter can keep an eye on my younger son at North Vista."

Housewife Chee Yunn Tyan, 33, plans to enrol her second son in Pei Chun Public School in Toa Payoh in Phase 1.

She said having both children in the same school will be easier, given that she plans on going back to work.

Unity Primary principal Jasmail Singh Gill said that in the last four years, she has noticed more spots being taken up in Phase 1. Last year, the Choa Chu Kang school had over 40 per cent of its places taken up in this phase.

"It shows that parents believe in what we're doing - providing a holistic education for their children," she said.

Phase 1 guarantees children who apply under it a place in their school of choice. Other phases may involve balloting if there are more applications than places left.

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