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How to select the BEST secondary school for your child

When it comes to choosing the ideal secondary school, many of us look to school rankings and PSLE cut-off points. Children will be in the midst of adolescence and will be growing into teenagers by the time they enter secondary school. Their time in secondary school will have a huge impact in shaping their characters, personalities and may play a pivotal role in shaping their life choices. To help you select the BEST secondary school for your child, here are five things for you to consider:

Five things to consider when selecting a secondary school

1. Child’s personality, strengths and interests

Opt for schools with an environment, ethos and culture that best suit your child’s personality and learning style. Many schools have distinctive programmes that help nurture their strengths and interests.

2. Affiliation

There are 27 secondary schools affiliated to primary schools through links to religious and clan associations. This allows your child to study there with a lower cut-off score (provided you selected the affiliated school as your first choice)

3. Academic fit

It would be ideal to select a school that fits your child’s academic ability so that they will not struggle under the pressure of not being able to cope. Under the new secondary school streaming changes starting from 2020, 25 secondary schools will also offer full subject-based banding. This means students can take subjects at a higher or lower level, depending on their ability.

4. Academic Route

Some children are more suited to the more structured framework of the GCE O levels, while those who are better at self-directed learning might prefer the Integrated Programme. The IP scheme is right for your child if they can adapt fast and easily to new learning styles and are disciplined enough.

5. Distance

This might seem like an oft-overlooked point, but the distance between school and home matters. Your children will be spending longer hours in school in secondary school compared to primary school, so choosing one that’s closer to home will reduce travel time and fatigue.

3 things for you to do now!

To get you started, here are some actionable steps to help you select the BEST secondary school for your child:

1. Talk to them

Having an honest conversation is an important first step. Broach the topic with them so that your child can spend some time thinking about their interests. Keep the discussion open and stress that this is a decision you can make together.

2. Understand your child’s strengths and interests

Whilst in primary school, your child would have been exposed to a very broad range of learning opportunities ranging from academic pursuits to sports, music and even the arts. Find out what they enjoyed doing and would like to continue pursuing.

3. Find out about schools

Reading up on the programmes offered by schools will help you to match possible schools with your child’s interests and strengths. A helpful tool for this would be Schoolfinder, which will help you search for suitable schools based on criteria like distance, programmes and CCAs. Additionally, you should also visit schools during their open house to let both you and your child experience what it would be like to attend that school. Click here for a list of secondary school open house dates.

A secondary school education is about the total development of your child, beyond what they can achieve academically. Regardless of the school they go to, their total development should be the prime focus. Encourage them to look forward to the schooling experience because education is a lifelong journey.


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