How to Choose & Register for Primary School in Singapore

byShu Rin Hoe
  • Nov 04, 2020
  • 9 mins

There are a few things to consider when picking a primary school for your child.

Little ones grow up so fast. Before you know it, your child will be 6 and you’ll need to decide which primary school he or she will be going to.

All schools are good schools, the Ministry of Education (MOE) says. Singapore primary schools boast high teaching standards, facilities, and a variety of learning programmes that cultivate students’ interests in the arts, sports, or sciences. 

Despite this, primary school registration in Singapore can feel like a competitive sport, with parents doing things like moving house or committing hours to volunteer service to increase their child’s chances of getting into their desired primary school.


How to Choose a Primary School in Singapore

The good news is that there are other ways to decide which primary school to send your child to. Here are some pragmatic considerations to help you make your choice.


Something to think about is how close your desired primary school is. A shorter distance from the school to your home means lower transport costs and shorter travel time, giving your child more time and energy to do what he or she enjoys. It will also mean less stress for you, as a shorter commute lessens the stress of you being stuck in traffic on the way to work. Lastly, when your child gets old enough to go to school alone, you may feel more at ease knowing that he or she doesn't have to travel so far alone. 

Close proximity to the school of your choice also gives you a slight advantage in the admission process, especially if you live within 1-2 km from the school. Find out more about the schools near your home here.

Secondary school affiliation

Choosing a primary school affiliated with a secondary school can relieve some of the pressure and anxiety from the Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE). 

Generally speaking, students have a better chance at continuing their education at the affiliated secondary school if they meet the school's minimum PSLE results, and indicate the school as their first choice. Of course, having priority does not guarantee admission. Like anything, admission to a secondary school is subject to your PSLE score and the availability of vacancies

Don’t worry if the primary schools near you don’t have secondary school affiliations. As of 2019, 20% vacancies at secondary schools are now reserved for non-affiliated students. So even if your child’s primary school has no school affiliations, he or she still has a chance to attend their secondary school of choice.

Single-sex versus coeducation

Some parents prefer that their kids go to single-sex schools, while some prefer coeducation.

Some parents have preferences about sending their children to single-sex or mixed/coeducational schools. There are plenty of options for both types of primary schools in Singapore. If you have several children of the same or mixed genders, you may find one type of school more advantageous than the other. 

Children with a sibling already studying at the primary school get priority and guaranteed placement when it’s time for them to enter Primary One. That’s because logistics-wise, it's easier for you to send your children to school and fetch them home. Your little ones may also feel more at ease, knowing that his or her sibling is close. This is especially so on the first day of school, which can be quite daunting for your younger child.


Around 80% of students with special needs are able to attend mainstream schools in Singapore. Even if your child has no disabilities, it’s worth seeing if your shortlisted primary schools have facilities and programmes for handicapped children. This shows that the school values inclusion and has made thoughtful plans to embed differently-abled children into mainstream society. 

Your child might thrive in a school that goes the extra mile to create a positive learning environment for all. Attending classes with differently-abled students will also teach your child to get along with those who are different from them, an important life skill that can be transformative when learned at a young age.


For some families, it’s important for their children to attend schools that teach religion and offer values-based education. In these schools, students may be exposed to religious services and songs, and students of the affiliated religion may be offered the chance to attend religious classes or services. These are not compulsory for all students; non-religious families can have their children opt out of religious activities. 

If you’re considering a religiously affiliated school, it’s good to make sure you’re aware of and comfortable with what your child will be exposed to from the start.

Single-session versus double-session schools

You might have heard that a handful of primary schools still offer “double sessions”, while the government is moving to shift all primary schools towards “single sessions”. It’s worth considering what type of session the school offers, as your child’s caregiver needs to be available before and after school hours. 

Single-session schools start class in the morning and end by early afternoon, so that students can participate in a wider range of academic and non-academic activities within the campus. 

Meanwhile, a double-session school caters to two different groups of students at different times of the day. Morning session classes start from early in the day till early afternoon, while afternoon-session classes start after lunch, and end in the evening. 

Your child’s talents and interests

Every school has its own areas of specialisation for co-curricular activities (CCAs), whether its sports, performing arts, or sciences. If a school offers opportunities for your child to excel in something outside academic areas, that's something to pay attention to. This will help your child develop innate talents and skills beyond the classroom, for a truly well-rounded education. 

You can start by looking for schools with excellence awards in areas that your child is interested in. Do note that some CCAs will incur extra expenditure (albeit subsidised) for training, costumes, equipment, instruments, or school trips. 

Take into account your child

Singapore Primary School Registration 2020

After you’ve discussed and made your primary school of choice, it’s time to prepare your documents and get ready for primary school registration.  

When can you start registering your child? Registrations for 2020 are now closed and the dates for 2021 have yet to be announces, but here’s a quick overview to the primary school registration phases from the MOE for the year 2020 as reference. It’s important to know what phase to register your child in, because you can only register your child in one school per phase. Multiple applications for the same school at different phases will not be accepted.

Phase Eligibility Additional Documents Required Date of Registration  Date of Results
Phase 1 You have another child currently studying at your preferred school   1 - 2 July 2020  
Phase 2A(1)
  • You are an alumnus of your preferred school, and have signed up as a member of the alumni association not later than 30 June 2019
  • You are a member of the Advisory or Management Committee of your preferred school
  • Scanned copies of the school report book that clearly shows your spouse's or your name and the primary school, OR your Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) certificate.
  • A letter from the alumni association certifying the status and date joined as an alumni member (the join date should not be later than 30 June 2019)
  • If you are a member of the School Advisory or Management Committee, the school which you are registered for may also request you to submit relevant documents certifying that either you or your spouse is a member
7 July 2020 13 July 2020
Phase 2A(2)
  • You had previously studied in your preferred school, but have not joined the alumni association
  • Another one of your children previously studied in your preferred school
  • You are a staff member of the school
  • Your child is currently a student in the MOE Kindergarten under the purview of and located within the preferred school
  • Scanned copies of the school report book that clearly shows your spouse's or your name and the primary school, OR your Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) certificate.
  • Birth certificate of older child as proof of relationship 
14 - 15 July 2020 22 July 2020
Phase 2B
  • You completed 40 hours of volunteer work between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.
  • You are a member endorsed by the church or clan directly connected to the school
  • You are endorsed as an active community leader
  • A letter of endorsement by the church or clan directly connected to the school
  • A letter of eligibility from the People's Association for being an endorsed active community leader.
23 - 24 July 2020 30 July 2020
Phase 2C If your child is eligible for P1 and not yet registered in a primary school.   3 - 5 August 2020 17 August 2020
Phase 2C Supplementary If your child is eligible for P1 and not yet registered in a primary school after Phase 2C   19 - 20 August 2020 31 August 2020

How to register your child for primary school in 2020

Before anything else, prepare the following:

  1. Child's full name
  2. Child's birth certificate number
  3. Child's date of birth
  4. Address for registration
  5. Email address
  6. Contact details
  7. Your child’s immunisation records (needed after the P1 Registration Exercise)

The table above also lists down additional documents needed for phases 2A1, 2A2, and 2AB.

As with many things in 2020, primary school registration is going to be different. There will not be any in-person registrations at schools to minimise contact among the public and to ensure safe distancing measures. 

For Phase 1 registrations, you need to email the completed application form and submit the necessary documents to the school directly. Your older child studying at the school will give you details on how to register his or her younger sibling during this phase.

For all other phases, your need to complete the registration online through:

  • An online form (Phases 2A1, 2A2, and 2B)
  • The Primary One Internet System (P1-IS) (Phases 2C or 2C Supplementary)

You’ll receive an SMS about the result of your primary school application at noon of the phase’s results announcement day. Good luck!

Prepare for primary school costs with a savings plan

Fortunately, Singaporean parents don’t have to worry about expensive school fees. Primary school is free for Singapore citizens, while Permanent Residents pay $205/month in 2020

However, extracurricular activities, enrichment classes, tuition, and other out-of-classroom educational experiences have costs that need to be paid out-of-pocket. Start preparing for these with a savings plan like Gro Saver Flex, a customisable savings plan that allows you to choose your premium and policy terms, so you can meet the financial needs of your child's education.

It is also good to prepare for financial costs that might come from injuries your child may sustain during extracurricular activities, especially if they join a sports team. Personal accident insurance covers medical expenses for injuries due to accidents, and a plan like PA Assurance gives children a 40% discount on premiums if at least one parent is insured under the same policy. 

As your child embarks on this new chapter in life, find out more on how you can support his/her education.


Important Notes:
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. 

Tags: Education
Shu Rin Hoe is a business writer with over nine years of experience in writing, spanning lifestyle, travel, health and wellness and finance.

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