SINGAPORE - Eighty-eight schools got more applications than vacancies in Phase 2C of the Primary 1 registration exercise this year - an increase of 11 schools from the 77 last year.
This means 48.6 per cent of all 181 primary schools were oversubscribed in this phase - which is slightly higher than last year's 42.5 per cent.
The data was published on the Ministry of Education's (MOE) website on Friday (Aug 5).
Phase 2C is widely considered to be the most competitive phase of the exercise, as it is open to children who have no prior links to the school.
Children whose parents were alumni or whose siblings are already enrolled in the school applied for a Primary 1 spot in earlier phases.
Phase 2C was revamped this year to increase the number of reserved spots from 20 to 40 to keep primary schools accessible to all children.
On Friday, all but eight schools had more than the 40 reserved places available.
The most oversubscribed school was Princess Elizabeth Primary in Bukit Batok, which received 278 applications for 55 slots, meaning five children are applying for each spot.
Nan Hua Primary in Clementi and Northland Primary in Yishun were also heavily oversubscribed. Nan Hua received 191 applications for 40 places, and Northland received 199 applications for 42 places.
Among the oversubscribed schools, 83 will hold ballots while five will not.
The schools that will not hold ballots are Alexandra Primary School, Jurong West Primary School, Ngee Ann Primary School, Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School and St. Anthony's Primary School.
The Straits Times understands that this may be due to factors such as the citizenship status of the applicants, which could disqualify some pupils and thus, negate the need for a tiebreaker.
Another two schools will hold ballots for permanent residents or PRs as they have reached the MOE cap on the number of PRs, said the MOE website.
The two schools are Opera Estate Primary School and Bukit Timah Primary School.
On average, each oversubscribed school received about 1.82 times more applications than the number of places available.
Associate Professor Jason Tan from the National Institute of Education said the move to increase the number of reserved places in this phase was meant to expand admission opportunities for pupils who are unable to qualify in earlier phases, thus addressing the public concern over schools becoming closed circles.
Referring to alumni who can get their children places in popular schools in the earlier phases, he said: "The new policy is an attempt to reduce the effects of inherited advantage when it comes to Primary 1 admission."
Asked about the results of this year's Phase 2C after the changes, he said there was no consensus on what would make an ideal mix of places across the various phases.
Prof Tan said: "What is the ideal mix for us to assess whether the policy has worked and opportunities have become more equal?
"A better mix means different things across various schools. Some schools have a narrower socio-economic range than others. So opening up places in such schools would probably mean reserving more than 40 places."
Registration for Phase 2C began on July 27 and closed on July 29. Results, including those of the ballots, will be out on Aug 10, the MOE website said.
The next phase - 2C Supplementary - is for any child not registered after 2C, and it opens at 9am on Aug 15.